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Miscount/Mistakes (Happy Accidents)

Turns out my total count of cards was off. In the five years since I started this, I’ve made more than 250 cards. Here are the most recent:

Métro-Metro (collage)

After “Party in Seattle,” I seem to have started a public transit series. I still have a London Oyster card stashed away, so there may be more. This is the Paris Métro and Capital Metro in Austin.

Float Like a Butterfly (collage)

One of my favorite exercises when I started back to school for an art degree was taking images of totally unrelated objects and combining them in a way that made some sort of compositional or artistic sense. In that first exercise I slapped a Portuguese man-of-war (i.e. sort-of, though not biologically, a purple jellyfish) on top of a croissant. Someone else in the class put a big pickle on an arm of a saguaro cactus. I called this one “Float Like a Butterfly,” but not really after Mohammed Ali. I just liked the title and really enjoyed putting the weird objects together. I’m posting it full size for the details to show.

Pastel Box (collage)

This is literally the palette and part of the wrapper from a box of pastels.

Wonderful Bird (collage)

Since this was another combination of weirdly unrelated objects, I just focused on the pelican and called it “Wonderful Bird,” attributing the title to what I mistakenly thought was a poem by Ogden Nash. So I learned something today: my favorite “Ogden Nash” poem is by Dixon Lanier Merritt.

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill can hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican

After weeks of collage, it’s time for a change in direction. I may go larger; I may go with markers, or paint, or fabric/stitchery. I also have about four knitting projects going. Is there possibly a way to KNIT a postcard? I may try!
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Still on a Roll

After a great start to the school year, I’m keeping up a pace of a card a day in the second week.

Two things are different, and I’m embarrassed to say that as an artist it’s way late for me to come to this:

  1. Soon after I get home from school drop-off I head into the studio and get to work, instead of taking care of laundry or other household chores. In the past, unlike Anne Lamott, who wrote in “Bird by Bird” that she could write with a “corpse in the sink,” I have a low tolerance for dirty dishes. I’m learning to me more like Anne.
  2.  Also for the first time, I can get so absorbed in the work that I lose track of time–the “time of the game,” as my philosophy professor called it, because he said that’s why casinos don’t have clocks. They want people to get lost in the game and forget the time. (I do manage to get to school for pickup, or to appointments, and I don’t go to casinos.)

I’ve kept count of the cards I’ve done since the first swap in 2014, and I’m up to 209. Not great for more than five years, but watch me now! Here’s the current output:

Shuffle #12, Summer Garden (collage)

This is part of the “shuffle” series, using random colors from a Color Aid pack. I sent it to a neighbor who recently had knee surgery to cheer her up.

Terra Sun and Moon (original photo, color aid paper)

The title is for the photo of sun and moon art taken at Terra Arts, outside Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Wiggins Farms

When I bought the watermelon I had to keep the label!

Hand-made (collage with hand-made paper)

 

Floral Dream (collage)

I made this while my cleaning lady was here and she seemed to really like it, so I mailed it to her for a surprise.

Party in Seattle (collage, stamp by Nat Uhing)

Still using the precious faux Australian stamps made by the late Nat Uhing. I think she’d like to see her work still circulating. The ticket is from my Jeopardy! audition trip.

I wonder how long it’ll take me to reach 300! At this pace I should be get there before the holidays.

 

Five School Days, Five Postcards

Now that my granddaughter has gone back to school, the longer days (or earlier starts) have made me more productive. In fact, these are the first cards I’ve made since the spring swap. I hope I keep up this momentum into the school year.

Blue Horizon (collage)

When this collage was done, I decided it needed words. It reminded me of the song “Beyond the Blue Horizon,” so I added “Beyond the blue horizon…waits a beautiful day.” I love that song so much I now want to play it at the start of every day!

Shuffle #10–for Nat (collage)

Part of the “shuffle” series, in which I pull out random colors from a pack of Color-Aid paper and figure out how to make weird color combinations work. The “stamp” was part of a pack made by Nat Uhing, one of my favorite bloggers, who died earlier this year. I will continue to use Nat’s stamps, always thinking of her. The link is to her final post.

It was Good–Cafe Sol (collage)

We ate at this Tex-Mex restaurant in Greenwich in 2013, after straddling the Prime Meridian, and I saved the card. We were longing for margaritas, so we decided to give it a try, ordering nachos and margaritas. We told the server we were from Texas and we had high expectations. And IT WAS GOOD! We gave our compliments to the cook, who, we were told, was from Turkey!

Shuffle #11–Be the Breeze (collage)

Another in the shuffle series, also including one of Nat’s stamps. The little fish windsock is from the package of an actual windsock, and I’ve had a lot of use out of the package (the actual windsock hangs by our pool). The “Welcome to Scotland” card in my last post shows what it looks like.

Trebuchet in the Garden (collage)

I struggled over the title of this one. The main image is from the Crusader Bible, “Saul Destroying the Ammonites,” with a little bit of Monet’s water lily garden in the corner. But that was pretty clunky, so I settled on something shorter. I just liked the colors together, along with the “shuffled” Color Aid paper.

Please plan to come back for shuffles 12 and beyond! This is the process: during the day scraps and odds and ends appear on the art table; I pull images out of my “inventory” of various images I have saved in bins and drawers. I fiddle with them whenever I walk past. (I’m so glad the art table is in an open space I pass often, rather than in an isolated studio over the garage or in the back yard.) During the night the pieces sort of rearrange themselves like iron filings to a magnet. In the morning I move the nascent arrangement into a more coherent composition, then take a photo of it so that I can paste everything in more or less the same place. The finished product will always be slightly different–either by mistake or on purpose.  Happy accidents make art even more fun!

Spring Postcard Swap + Bonus Cards

I’ve been on a roll, and have more than the 10 cards needed for the Spring ihanna swap.

“Shuffle” series came about when I remembered an old pack of Color Aid paper (explained in a recent post). The exercise was so much fun I did nine cards, all based on randomly selecting six or so colors from the pack. I allowed a switch out if two nearly identical colors came up, and allowed myself to just drop out one color. I also added other visual elements to increase the fun. One thing I find interesting is that, for all the “randomness” (I swear I selected the colors from the backside, blindly), there is a lot of consistency in the color palette, with pinks, purples, golds and oranges predominating. My favorite piece is the rainbow koi windsock flying over Inverness.

Here are all the recent cards, 10 of which will go in the mail to Canada, Sweden, Thailand and all over the U.S. in the next day or two.

Shuffle #2: Dots (there is no #1–the first Color Aid shuffle was in the previous post.) (collage)

Shuffle #3: Butterflies (collage)

Shuffle #4: Canyon (collage)

Shuffle #5: Journey (collage)

Shuffle #6: Believe (collage)

Shuffle #7: Rise and Shine

Shuffle #8: Floral (collage)

Shuffle #9: Splash Pad (collage)

Welcome to Scotland (collage)

A Walk on the Pier (collage)

Splash Pad (collage)

And, a fun little wrap-up (I need to take break and do some other things for a while!):

A Crawl on the Pier (collage)

Art days = hens’ teeth

Like almost every retired person I know, I find my days fill up quickly. Appointments, meetings, exercise, household, yard and pool chores, pet care (yes, I have help in all these areas), usually take up most of about four days a week. (That’s not to mention the 12-year-old granddaughter and a husband with a chronic illness.) I also volunteer with two local arts centers, which at least counts as “art.”

So I manage to squeeze in a precious art day now and then. Recent output includes a painting and some postcards. When I finished the painting, I didn’t care for it much, but after it dried I decided it fit nicely in our foyer, with its touches of blue and gold.

The lava lamp is a recent garage sale purchase, for a couple of dollars.

“Bluedrops” – Acrylic, 12″ x 12″

 

I did this photo-collage as a retirement gift for our minister–images from the church’s interior.

Here are postcards since my last post:

“Springtangle” – pens, Prismacolor pencils

Paris from Montparnasse Tower” – original hand-colored black and white photo (taken on our October visit to Paris).

“Spring 2019” – Watercolor and pen (sent to a friend in Canada to brighten her winter days)

 

“Ganesha goes to Bali” – Collage (sent to congratulate a friend on her 100th birthday)

 

“Get Your Feet Wet” – collage, including day and night images of Kerrville’s splash pad.

Finally, I dug out a stashed box of papers I’d almost forgotten about,

Fun with an old friend, Color Aid, a beautiful matte silk-screened paper that comes in more than 200 colors a pack.

and created this collage, limiting myself to only these scraps of (not necessarily harmonious) colors. It turned out better than I expected–sort of an homage to Matisse’s cutouts. (I have seen two exhibits, one at the Hirshhorn in Washington in about 1977*, and a fabulous exhibit at MOMA in New York in 2014.)

“Finding an Old Box of Color Aid,” collage.

* Funny story: I saw the Matisse cutout exhibit with my mother and then-4-year-old daughter. While Mom scoffed that “a kindergartener could do this” and the guards warily eyed the child, I tried to enjoy this incredibly beautiful “kindergarten” art. (Matisse was quite old when he did the cutouts.) Finally my mother offered to take the child out so I could peruse in peace, which I did. When I saw the ’14 show at MOMA, there were school kids on a field trip, enjoying the art immensely. It was wonderful.

 

January ’19 Output

My goal was five postcards a week, but the month was crazy and challenging and I made only five in the whole month (plus one I’m working on, a manipulated photo from Paris that I’m experimenting with hand-coloring; look for that in a later post).

Here’s my 2019 output so far:

Page Torn from a Unicorn’s Library (collage) (given to a friend along with a hand-knit gift)

 

Doodle #26 (Shuttle Art markers)

 

Winter Dawn with Venus, Jupiter and Mars (water color)

 

Zen Tangles Meet New Markers

 

Happy in Water (collage) I am thrilled that this card will be sent to the remote island of Tristan da Cunha, in the South Atlantic, whose inhabitants have requested mail art for a permanent exhibition for island resident and visitors. Isn’t that the coolest thing? I chose this card with its water theme since it’s going to an island.

Postcards for fall 2018 swap

I sent out my 10 postcards for the ihanna swap, but I’ve received only eight. I’m hoping the last two are international and just taking a long time. In the meantime, here are the ones I sent:

Shiny Bubbles – Prismacolor water color pencils

 

Souvenir de Paris – collage with Métro map and ticket.

 

Blues – Prismacolor water color pencils

 

Dreary Saturday Morning – watercolor, collage, washi tape

 

Dreary Saturday – watercolor, collage

 

Paris Métro Maze – collage with Métro maps, tickets, washi tape

 

Autumn Folly – watercolor, stamping

 

The Secret – watercolor, marker, computer type on vellum

 

La Vie en Rose – computer graphic images of Edith Piaf (“Little Sparrow”)

I’ll post the cards from the swap once I’ve received all of them.

Happy holidays! See you in 2019!

 

You Can’t Do It Wrong

One of the many things I love about art is that there are no mistakes and you can’t do it wrong. Sure there are failures, um, projects that don’t work, which can go right into the trash, but it’s all part of the process. Better still there are “happy accidents,” mistakes that enhance the finished product.

When I started doing postcards for swaps, about four years ago, I had no idea what I was going to do or how to do it. But knowing I have a good eye for color and composition, and a degree in art, I figured I’d learn technique as I went along. Much of my early cards were doodles in marker or quick watercolor sketches. Gradually I got into collage, where I had little experience. With a couple of jars of Mod Podge, an X-acto knife, scissors, a ruler and various card stocks and papers–and a whole lot of just playing and seeing what comes about–I’m probably making about half my cards in some sort of collage or mixed media. And it’s still a blast!

A recent card recipient asked me about my process, materials, and what happens in a swap, so rather than reply to her I thought I’d post it here, along with my most recent work. (Good swap info is on ihanna’s site.)

Since we moved into a house with space for a studio, I have a pretty good storage system–drawers, shelves, bins and–best of all, a large work table.

Conveniently located next to the laundry room (where there is additional storage).

Also next to the garage, where I have more shelves and drawers, mostly for sewing, knitting and needlework supplies.

Desk, writing corner, printer, scanner, and laptop for graphics, photoshopping and everything else.

Stacked drawers for papers and other source material.

Work table.

I share the space with a guinea pig, who serenades me with his “oinks” the whole time I’m working. I want to “re-home” him.

Good light and a view of the atrium entry. In the summer I can watch hummingbirds.

I get material everywhere: catalogs are printed on high-quality coated paper so they stand up well to adhesive; I cannibalize postcards and greeting cards; papers and card stock of all types; scrapbooking paper for backgrounds; magazines; calendars; stickers. Some material comes from the scrapbooking department of the craft store, but it’s mostly found objects. My favorite recent find is an empty Chinese cigarette packet–found in front of our house in Central Texas! I don’t know how I’ll use it, but I sure will.

Chinese cigarette packet!

 

Latest piece on the work table.

Here is my recent output.

Peacock in Monet’s Garden (collage, sticker from a Monet art book)

 

Purple Madness (collage, feathers)

 

Can’t Help Myself, I Love Color and Flowers (watercolor, collage, washi tape)

 

Spring Friend (collage, paper, washi tape)

Remember, if you’d like a card mailed to you, email me your address, jillybeanswiggins@gmail.com. I will mail internationally.

Kindness Cards

My log of finished postcards since I began in May, 2014, is at about 150. Not quite the productivity I might like to have, but life keeps getting in the way. (Visit my other blog to find out how.)

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to do at least one kind thing each day. That led to the idea of giving away my postcards, renaming them “Kindness Cards,” and asking the recipients to pass along any act of kindness they can.

I have managed to crank out eight cards this year. I went to a knitting and needle arts retreat last weekend and asked people to sign up for cards, so that got me working on cards as well as knitting! I’m finishing up some knitting projects, re-learning to crochet, and have a couple of stitchery projects at the ready, so there is never an idle moment with these hands.

Here are the 2018 Kindness Cards so far. If you would like to receive a card, email your address to jillybeanswiggins@gmail.com. I will mail internationally. All of these below have been sent, so if you request a card it will be new.

Fresh Colors (collage)

 

Gilt (collage)

 

I (heart) reading (collage and cord)

 

Quilted Happiness (collage, stickers and washi tape)

 

Sea Love (mixed media)

 

Pink on Pink (mixed media)

 

Once Upon a Time (mixed media) (flowers by my granddaughter Chloe)

 

Jamie’s Scrubbies (water color, sparkle gel crayons). A young woman named Jamie was making sparkle scrubbies at the retreat.

I spilled a container of paint water my granddaughter used yesterday (more on her paintings coming up), making it necessary to clean up the art table. After I finished cursing, I took the opportunity to tidy up the area, and realized I had a gold mine of material–images, stickers, maps, paper scraps, etc.–piled up in a basket, so I’m in the process or sorting, organizing, and finding a better place to file/store the material.

Sorting and organizing the goodies. So much fun stuff I had forgotten about, including old postcards, souvenirs from travel, maps and other interesting bits and pieces.

Fall 2017 iHanna swap

Because of our move from Austin to the Texas Hill Country, I didn’t participate in the Spring swap. It’s been so much fun getting back into making postcards. Here are the 10 that went into the mail today, plus one from earlier this year: #diypostcardswap

Birds in a Bush (water color, stamp, washi tape, water-color pencil), to California

 

Caution: tape! (watercolor, washi tape), to Washington state

Strange Golden Creature (mixed media), to Maryland. Never figured out where this guy came from. I added a border of washi tape, not scanned.

 

Parade (water color, washi tape, glitter gel crayon, confetti), to South Carolina

 

Untitled (drips), (watercolor, washi tape), to Ohio

 

“Blue Boat Home,” setting of a Unitarian Universalist hymn (graphic design, manipulated photos), to Ohio. You can listen to the song on YouTube

 

Autumn nap (collage, paper, washi tape), to Florida, where they don’t get autumn

 

Fractals, marker, to California

 

How to Rake Leaves (collage), to Cornwall, England.

 

Skating under the Aurora 2 (water color, glitter water paint), to Fife, Scotland (intended for possible use as the cover for a book of dream poems, a dream that has yet to be realized).

This was not part of the swap, but it’s the only other postcard I’ve made recently and it hasn’t been posted before.

Celebration (collage), to friends in Austin.