Lena Clark, age 6 1/2, who lives in Saratoga Springs, and Makaela Leader, 11, a Niskayuna resident, this week were named the winners of The Daily Gazette’s 2022 Christmas Coloring Contest.
The girls used their artistic talents to put reds, greens, blues and yellows into a drawing of Santa driving a train over a snow-covered, evergreen-decorated landscape. Both won $100 for their excellent efforts.
“To me, the coloring contest is a throwback to a simpler time in this world,” said Daily Gazette Editor Miles Reed. “It’s like watching ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ or ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ on television. Good vibes. And when you see the names and addresses on the entries, you realize that it’s your community. Our community.”
The contest, which started in 2011, has become a holiday tradition for the newspaper.
“It’s so nice to see when the entries start flowing into the newsroom via the morning mail,” Reed said. “So many colors. It really brightens the room.
“And then of course there are the ones that get hand-delivered by the moms and dads and family friends right to the front desk of the newspaper,” Reed added. “They always want assurances that the submissions will be considered — and they always are! We take great care in that regard.”
Clark won the age 8-and-under division. Judges liked the youngster’s decision to create a midnight blue sky and the precise color strokes utilized by such a young artist. Newspaper editors also praised Clark’s red-and-white peppermint train wheels.
Clark, the daughter of Mia and Shawn Clark, is a first-grader at Division Street Elementary School in Saratoga Springs. She and her family recently moved to Saratoga Springs from Baltimore.
The artist reacted to her victory with squeals of excitement.
“I like coloring,” she said, moments later. “I want to be an artist when I grow up. I like painting and coloring because it makes me feel happy.”
Clark used a sky blue marker to cover the hills in Santa’s scene, giving them a snow-topped appearance. She also used precision and patience to “decorate” the Christmas tree on a hill with yuletide colors. Santa samples a cookie as he drives a train, and Clark colored the sweet snack brown with black specks.
“It’s a chocolate chip cookie,” she said.
The peppermint train wheels reflect Clark’s love of candy. If Santa is reading, her favorites are bubble gum and lollipops.
“I wanted to make Santa’s skin color peach because I don’t have a normal skin color,” Clark said. “I just used a peach.”
Clark, who said she spent about one day on the project, said her favorite holiday character is Frosty the Snowman — she admires the cool one’s recuperative qualities.
Clark said she hopes to use her prize money to next year buy Christmas gifts for her family — siblings Angelo, 8 1/2, James, 5, and Josephine, 3, are all in the fold. She also can offer advice for kids who will be on the color guard team next Christmas.
“Try your best,” she said. “And I hope they color nicely and use all different kinds of colors.”
Leader, a fifth-grader at Hillside Elementary School, said she was surprised to learn she had triumphed in the contest’s division for colorists ages 9 through 12.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Leader, the daughter of Rebecca and Christopher Leader. “This is my third year of entering. I feel like in previous years I didn’t add a lot of detail, but this year I did.”
The judges appreciated Leader’s creative approach. The artist filled the landscape with tiny elves who stack presents, throw snowballs and build a snowman as Santa’s red and green train rolls by. There are also tiny railroad tracks through the hills. Leader also colored peppermint-style train wheels.
The 11-year-old, who used colored pencils, also drew small houses on top of the hill and put snowflakes into her deep blue night sky. A yellow crescent moon is also in the scene.
Leader said she spent a couple weeks on the project, always returning to add extra details. She received some motivation during a recent drawing session with a friend, and picked up additional inspiration from her favorite Christmas movie, “Elf.”
Leader, who favors light blues, teals and purples, said she likes to sketch villages, houses and people. She offered guidance for kids who will enter the 2023 coloring contest.
“I’d tell them to just try your hardest and add as much detail as possible,” she said. “Kind of take the picture they give you and add your own parts to it.”
Leader might be able to advise her brother Owen, 6, for next December’s competition. It could be practice for the future — she hopes to eventually work as an art teacher in an elementary or middle school.
Word has circulated around Hillside that Leader was one of the contest’s champions.
“They were surprised,” she said of classmates, “especially when I said the prize was $100.”
A total of 222 children entered the contest, an increase over the 181 who submitted artwork in 2021.
Judges awarded compliments to other artists.
— Piper Kirkton, 10, of Niskayuna won accolades for her cat-themed artwork. She called it “Cat World” and added feline characters in a variety of poses. Kirkton also included a couple of lovestruck hedgehogs under the mistletoe, installed a smiling snowman and a snowflake-filled sky. “It showed great imagination,” one judge said.
— Several young artists decided to name Santa’s train. Names included “North Pole Express” by Talia Suslak; “Snowman Express” by Alannah Hawkins; “Santa’s Train” by Randi Morris; “Cupid’s Comet” by Lydia Stillito; and “Santa’s Express” by Chase Burke.
— Zoe Oakes of Scotia added a fun twist to her drawing by “hiding” three wrapped Christmas presents in the scene. She challenged the judges with the statement “Can you find 3 presents?”
— Clifton Park resident Kit Early’s drawing was titled “Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland,” adding a youngster and a reindeer. to the scene.
— Kids had fun with the many trees pictured. They colored them with reds, blues, greens, yellows — almost like Popsicles.
Contact Jeff Wilkin at [email protected].
The 25 Coloring Contest runners-up whose work was noticed by the judges
Willa Cintula, Ballston Spa
Carah DiCaprio, Ballston Lake
Kit Early, Clifton Park
Corinne Eckert, Clifton Park
Alannah Hawkins, Schenectady
Daniel Kauffman, Canajoharie
Piper Kirkton, Niskayuna
Veronica Kondrat, Amsterdam
Guinevere Libertucci, Glenville
Levi Lorensen, Fort Johnson
Liv MacIntosh, Glenville
Sheila Marino, Scotia
Randi Morris, Glenville
Brodie Nejman, Rotterdam Junction
Haley Osenko, Niskayuna
Kendall Osenko, Niskayuna
Maggie Rodecker, Burnt Hills
Lydia Shillito, Burnt Hills
Aubrey Stanton, Cobleskill
Kelsey Surin, Schenectady
Valentino Tarantelli, Scotia
Zoey Taylor, Broadalbin
Kennedy Triblet, Niskayuna
Harper Weinhold, Schenectady
Alena Willoughby, Scotia