The following blog post was written a long time ago (fall/winter of 2019) – much earlier in the pandemic that has now turned endemic. I put this post in my blogs draft folder because I needed to take photos to include and soon after began to fall into a rather long lasting mental slump (that I’ll share more about later) that prevented me from returning to it, or this blog, for a really long time. I feel it stands as a good transition between where I was in my last published blog post and where I am now so I am releasing it to share more of how things have been going for me in my long hiatus.
In my last blog post I talked a little bit about how I am working to “refresh my refresh rate“. It has been about 3 months and as a whole I would rate myself as a solid “work in progress” after some additional time has passed. Understanding that my own creative exhaustion was normal helped me revive myself a little bit. I have generally been able to stay in the aforementioned head space but boy has life thrown us a few curves since then. All of this brings me to a small project that I started with my daughter during our quarantine and the holidays – mixed media postcards.
We were feeling so cut off – even more than we had before – and it was important to do something to reach out to our friends and family and share some love. One morning while we were painting with watercolors I decided to cut a bunch of postcard sized pieces of watercolor paper for us to play around with. I started to show my budding artist different techniques with watercolor and ways of mixing colors.
We played around with abstraction and went back and forth with different goals in much the same way as we have in the past. This time I really helped her focus on the difference between having intent and letting go – on embracing non-objective expression by focusing on color, movement, and shape rather than trying to “make a picture“. The central theme was to “observe and respond” to what was happening visually on the paper in front of us. I know, I know – she’s only 8 – but she’s my 8 year old and she already has a foundation built for such discussions (and soaks them up like a sponge).
These simple studies were then continually developed over the next couple of weeks as we would collaboratively or independently add to them. We used stickers and colored pencils and collaged pieces left over from our seed catalog cards. She liked making random marks and scribbling and I loved adding stickers from the “Victorian Sticker Book” (not an affiliated link, I earn nothing by including this). In the end she became a little bored with them and so I finished what remained with some occasional instruction from her. We were both really happy with the postcards when they were all finished.
Making postcards is easy and very manageable even when you do not have a great deal of time, space, materials, energy, etc. They can be stashed in a quart bag with some miscellaneous scraps of collage stuff and thrown in a basket out of the way until you can go back to them. I like to keep a little bag of these with my colored pencils on the table by the couch so that when I take a coffee break or watch a show with the kiddo I can prop up a book on a pillow in my lap and doodle back into them. Its like coloring in a coloring book for me.
The best part of making these postcards, for me, is that I get to see a finished product fairly quickly and explore ideas and random media combinations with a low stress/low commitment format. This scale also adapts well to the constantly shifting school schedule and days off that we experience with public school these days. And then you get to send them to people you love!
Instead of holiday cards this year we sent out “hey, hang in there, the year is coming to an end and hopefully next year will hold better things in store” notes* in what I started to call our pandemic postcards.
And now that the holidays are over and the kiddo is back in school part time I find myself continuing to make pandemic postcards – although this time I am doing them largely on my own. I’ve started too integrate more cut paper and foliage into the mix and I really like the direction these are taking.
*Oh, how silly of me, right? At least I was hopeful. 🙂