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.
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.
Here is my recent output.
Remember, if you’d like a card mailed to you, email me your address, email@example.com. I will mail internationally.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I will mail internationally. All of these below have been sent, so if you request a card it will be new.
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.
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
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.
After four months of deciding to move, finding a place, selling the other place, moving, trying to settle into our new home…. I have a studio and I’ve finished a tiny bit of art!
This was a plain gray board with only the lettering on it. I bought it for a narrow space in our bathroom in the old house, with the intent of making it colorful, many months ago. The only thing I had done was the pale aqua wash. Turns out it doesn’t quite work in the space I had planned in the new house, but it’s still in the master bath, opposite the toilet, helping start my day on a bright and positive note.
Here is the before:
Chloe felt bad that I wasn’t doing much art, so yesterday she insisted we collaborate. She drew them in Sharpie, and I painted the middle one.
One of the best things about our new home is the studio space. Since I share it with a 10-year-old, it’s not very tidy, but there’s enough room for both of us and I have plenty of storage. (Chloe also has a drawing table in her room, but we keep messy work in the studio.)
As crazy as this fall has been, with adjusting to new beings in my life (updates on my other blog soon) and a trip, I squeezed in the iHanna postcard swap. Fortunately I had a small supply saved, so I had to make only a few. Here’s what was sent out at the end of October.
This was a repeat of a previous card:
I have started receiving cards, so I’ll post them after I’ve received all 10.
Not too much output yet this summer, for the usual reasons. Here’s this week’s work. Apparently I’m into hot colors. Happy July!
The above began as the first version of “Orange, red, purple,” but it wasn’t working so I just played around with images until it became rather whimsical. (I rarely just give up and call a piece a failure–of course there have been some–but I usually try to push through until I get something pleasing or, if all else fails, fun.) I also just realized that each of these four pieces was an attempt to express the same idea, and “Orange, red, purple,” is the closest fulfillment of that vision. Also the simplest and quickest (and last) one. That’s often the way art is. It works best when you quit trying so hard.
Received a nice packet from Honi in New York state, including the scan of a weave, and the dear little purple envelope with butterflies on it and a tiny handmade book inside.
Although the spring rains in Central Texas have not ended our drought, they have kicked the butts of anyone who suffers from allergies, which is just about everyone. So I’ve been in a bit of an artistic drought. Here’s my recent paltry output:
“Code” is second in a series about coded language. I love Gregg shorthand–still remember it after learning it in high school a thousand years ago–and I’m exploring different forms of coded language. The poems fragments say: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (From “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver); “Life has loveliness to sell/buy it and never count the cost,” (From “Barter” by Sara Teasdale); and the last is after the title of a poetry collection I’m reading, “Grab Life by the Throat.” (The title is actually “Catch Life by the Throat,” but I like “Grab” better.)
I’m working on a book of dream poems, possibly to be titled “Skating under the Aurora.” This is the second version of what may be the cover art. It has a way to go yet to capture the dream.
Plus one card received:
I have a surplus of cards to send, so if you would like to find a piece of hand-made original art in your mailbox, email me at email@example.com. International requests are welcome, and I’d love to swap.
The month between mid-March and mid-April was a blur of illness, travel and too little art time. But I’m getting productive again, so here are the latest pieces, plus some I’ve received since the last post:
And cards received:
It’s been almost a year since I got the post card bug, and I still feel like I’ve just begun. Ideas flow into my brain before I go to sleep. I dream ideas. “Palimpsest,” below, came out of a dream of creating “decorated shorthand.” I’m interested in the different ways people communicate, which can be kinds of code. For some it’s a foreign language, or American sign language, or math; for others, literal computer coding language; for me it’s body language, music symbols, Gregg shorthand–learned in high school, still remembered and still useful! Who knew it could also be art?
Haven’t done many exchanges lately, but below is another card received from Honi in New York. She really goes all out with envelopes, something I have yet to get into.
Email me your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to receive a card. International addresses welcome.