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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.

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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.

Art at Last!

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:

Plain plaque with only the aqua wash (it was gray).

Partly done:

Finished:

Tarted up. (Collage, washi tape, acrylic paint)

 

In its place to help start my day.

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.

Art by Chloe and Jill, now hanging on her violet wall. (Acrylic and Sharpie.)

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.)

Studio (that was intended as a utility/mudroom, as far as I can tell). Good natural and artificial light, easy to clean.

Fall Postcard Swap

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.

Beautyberries 2

Beautyberries 2 (water color, marker, paper) – Impression of colors of a beautyberry bush.

Beautyberries (water color, markers) - More realistic view of a beautyberry bush.

Beautyberries (water color, markers) – More realistic impression of a beautyberry bush.

Utah Impressions (water color)

Utah Impressions (water color)

Piscivore (collage)

Piscivore (collage)

There was a face - Kupka (water color) - Homage to the artist František Kupka

There was a face – Kupka (water color) – Homage to the artist František Kupka

Kupka homage in hot colors (marker) - Another nod to Kupka

Kupka homage in hot colors (marker) – Another nod to Kupka

Ice Skating under the Aurora (water color) - Sketch for a future book of dream poetry.

Ice Skating under the Aurora (water color) – Sketch for a future book of dream poetry.

Autumn glow (water , glitter paint)

Autumn glow (water color, glitter paint)

Autumn dreams (water color, glitter paint)

Autumn dreams (water color, glitter paint)

This was a repeat of a previous card:

Eating an Orange (copy of original poem and original pastel drawing)

Eating an Orange (copy of original poem and original pastel drawing)

I have started receiving cards, so I’ll post them after I’ve received all 10.

It must be the heat

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!

Off-Center Boom. Had a scrap piece of round cardboard to play with. (Acrylic, paper, washi tape)

Off-Center Boom. Had a scrap piece of round cardboard to play with. (acrylic, paper, washi tape)

Little Bang (acrylic, paper, washi tape)

Little Bang (acrylic, paper, washi tape)

Orange, red, purple (water color)

Orange, red, purple (water color)

Sailing the Cosmic Sea (water color, collage, stickers, confetti)

Sailing the Cosmic Sea (water color, collage, stickers, confetti)

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.

Image of a weave, from Honi

Image of a weave, from Honi

Little envelope and booklet with tiny "tickets" inside, from Honi.

Little envelope and booklet with tiny “tickets” inside, from Honi.

 

Drought

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 (poem fragments) - monoprint, marker on vellum, paper

Code (poem fragments) – monoprint, marker on vellum, paper

“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.)

Monster Dandelion - monoprint, collage on board

Monster Dandelion – monoprint, collage on board

Faded Honor - computer type on vellum over water color

Faded Honor – computer type on vellum over water color

Place Setting - collage over monoprint on board

Place Setting – collage over monoprint on board

Skating under the Aurora 2 - water color

Skating under the Aurora 2 – water color

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:

"Adirondack Chair," from Honi in New York State

“Adirondack Chair,” from Honi in New York State

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 jillybeanswiggins@gmail.com. International requests are welcome, and I’d love to swap.

Springing Back to Life

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:

Heart of Spring (collage)

Heart of Spring (collage)

Stained glass with brown and gold (markers). Done when I was in the grid phase but overlooked in scanning.

Stained glass with brown and gold (markers). Done when I was in the grid phase but overlooked in scanning.

Strange Golden Creature

Strange Golden Creature (water color, gel crayons). I don’t know what to make of this.

My favorite colors (water color, gel crayons)

My favorite colors (water color, gel crayons)

Windows (markers, cutouts and paper)

Windows (markers, cutouts and paper)

 

Ice Skating under the Aurora (water color). There is a poem to go with this but it's not finished, and I'll probably re-do the art and post on my other blog.

Ice Skating under the Aurora (water color). There is a poem to go with this but it’s not finished, and I may re-do the art and post both on my other blog.

Travel Writer (collage on recycled board). My husband wants me to frame and hang this, so he may get it for his office.

Travel Writer (collage on recycled board). My husband wants me to frame and hang this, so he may get it for his office.

And cards received:

From Dee in South Africa

From Dee in South Africa

Honi in New York State

Honi in New York State

An interesting envelope and stamps from Michelle in Fiji

An interesting envelope and stamps from Michelle in Fiji

 

 

Still in Love

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?

Palimpsest (marker, stickers on vellum) "Decorated shorthand," and playing with overlaid images on vellum.

Palimpsest (marker, stickers on vellum) “Decorated shorthand,” playing with overlaid images on vellum.

 

Cheer Up (water color, water color pencils) Playing with transparency

Cheer Up (water color, water color pencils) Playing with transparency

Make a Wish (collage). The central image came from a birthday card received last year, so I sent this back to the sender.

Make a Wish (collage). The central image came from a birthday card received last year, so I sent this back to the sender.

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fi-yer

I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fi-yer (water color, water color pencils), after a writing workshop about setting your words on fire. My mother used to talk about my brother singing the song when he was little, and I had heard it several times recently. So it honors both the writing teacher and my late brother. I sent it to the teacher.

Spring Will Come (collage). To reassure friends after a dreary winter.

Spring Will Come (collage). To reassure friends after a dreary winter.

Shine Bright Dream Big (mixed media collage--coffee filter, watercolor gel crayons, washi tape, various papers)

Shine Bright Dream Big (mixed media collage–coffee filter, watercolor gel crayons, washi tape, various papers)

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.

Orange is the Happiest Color, by Honi. Love the envelope, too!

Orange is the Happiest Color, by Honi. Love the envelope, too!

Email me your mailing address to jillybeanswiggins@gmail.com if you’d like to receive a card. International addresses welcome.

Having a Blast

Spent much of today working on art! Here are the latest pieces, followed by cards I’ve received recently. I got a little wild with the monoprints, inspired by Kathie M. from Colorado (see below). I even found my old little plexiglas plate from when I took printmaking in about 1987.

Neon Jungle (fabric, acrylic stamped figures)

Neon Jungle (fabric, acrylic stamped figures)

Divine Revelation (monoprint background, colored pencil figure)

Divine Revelation (monoprint background, colored pencil) After doing the background I could “see” Moses, streaming light, and the crowd, so I drew in the figure.

Puzzle (monoprint background, marker puzzle lines)

Puzzle (monoprint background, marker puzzle lines)

Metamorphosis is Messy (acrylic monoprint backgound, collaged critters)

Metamorphosis is Messy (acrylic monoprint background, collaged critters)

Frankenflower, acrylic monoprint background, collaged flower in marker

Frankenflower (acrylic monoprint background, collaged flower in marker)

Original photo, with quote from Lao Tzu

Original photo, with quote from Lao Tzu

 

Original photo with quote from Marcus Aurelius.

Original photo, photoshopped differently, with quote from Marcus Aurelius.

This monoprint from Kathie M. in Colorado inspired me to do the monoprints above.

This monoprint from Kathie M. in Colorado inspired me to do the monoprints above.

A collage from Linda G. in Massachusetts. This cracks me up.

A collage from Linda G. in Massachusetts. This cracks me up.

Another greeting from Catherine in Shropshire.

Another greeting from Catherine in Shropshire.

From Honi in N.Y., the only taste of fall we get in Central Texas.

From Honi in N.Y., the only taste of fall we get in Central Texas.