nativity painting blog
Painter's Palette

Nativity Blog: An Interview with Darren Gygi

We are so excited to introduce the Holy Family, the first in a series of Nativity paintings by Darren Gygi.  This beautiful piece compliments so much of our Christmas décorand the graceful lines and vivid brushstrokes on Darren’s rendering of this classic subject makes it a timeless piece that can be displayed year after year.

To celebrate this introduction, we interviewed the artist himself to get his thoughts on his new Nativity.

Q.What made you decide to paint a Nativity?

A. Well, my wife Megan, who comes up with a lot of the ideas for my artwork, has been “strongly suggesting” for the last several years that we create a Nativity for the Home Collection. I was finally convinced, and I’m glad I was.  I’m very happy with the result.

Q. Why did it take several years to convince you to do it?

A. One of my favorite phrases is, “Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.”  Haha. I shared that phrase with Megan numerous times when she suggested a Nativity because I knew that it was going to be a HUGE undertaking.  I think that even she was surprised by how much work went into this!

Q. How is the work required for this painting different than the work required for your other paintings in the Home Collection?

I paint from “life” as much as possible. When I start a painting, I find an item (the subject of the painting) that meets my approval, and then I set it up with the appropriate positioning and lighting. When I paint a piece of fruit, for example, I might go to several grocery stores or fruit stands looking for the “right” piece.  I then spend time deciding which direction the fruit should face in the painting, how the light and shadows should hit it, etc.

But, I knew that painting a Nativity was going to be much more complicated than painting a piece of fruit.  It was a very involved process. I rented some Bible-era costumes and spent several hours with a costumer who coached me on how to dress my models for the Nativity.  I hired models and dressed them as instructed, I built a mock manger, and I created “the scene.”  In fact, I still have the costumes hanging on a clothing rack in my studio—just in case I need to refer back to them.  But as much work as the prep was, the real work began when I started painting.  Most of the Home Collection paintings are a single object (although some have a minimal scene in the background).  This painting has three figures, two animals, detailed clothing, some architecture, AND a background.  It was much more work than a typical Home Collection painting.

Q. Wow! That sounds like a TON of work! You hired models?  Even a baby? 

A. Fortunately, a friend of ours recently had a very cute baby boy, and we used him for our model of the Baby Jesus. He was very cooperative—he even let us wrap him in swaddling clothes without making a fuss.

Q. What was your favorite part about painting the Holy Family?

A. I love painting people. That’s my favorite subject matter.  I don’t get to paint people as often as I’d like, so I’m glad to have had that chance.

Q. What’s next on the horizon?

A. I think I’ll go take a shower. This Nativity has been so much work that I’ve lost track of the days involved. ?

Pick up the first in our lovely Nativity set—available now!