Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Cardinal

Around this time Jessica was visiting last year and we were able to meet for a day in Traverse City.  We had plans to do a lot, but ended up eating good food and doing a lot of talking.  It was great.  She showed me some cut outs that she planned to turn into cards- this was one!
She writes that she mailed it before heading back to Ghana.  She had a great time in DC for New Year's feeling nourished by time with friends and by the time with family in TC.  Isn't that what the holidays are supposed to be for? Hope yours was!

Monday, December 26, 2011


This card might technically be a savanna but what Jessica wrote about was living in a desert! She was getting ready to leave for a long break in the US and wrote "when I was plotting this card I was about as stressed as possible and in fire fighting/crisis mode" Sounds like a place devoid of life to me! Don't worry about our heroine though, she went on to reflect about having made a lot of progress in one year living in Ghana.  She added that December often makes her nostalgic. I agree, being with family makes memories surface and winter makes us stay inside and slow down.  Both add to the recipe for warm feelings of nostalgia. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Almost cool

Bows are in and ruffles out claimed Lynn a year ago (I could not verify whether this was true from Ghana, but I am taking her word for it). She had just wrapped her 'head around wearing a whole feminine ruffly mess' and then, suddenly, it was so last season and she had to start all over.

Her students, however, were perfectly in sync. Apparently, sophomores wore jeans, while seniors (too cool for school or, in this instance, to get dressed) wore sweats, specifically PINK by Victoria's Secret only. I think we are both glad we missed this trend, although it may be that we were never great at keeping in step in the first place.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Surfin' USA

I couldn't resist the tile because I love the Beach Boys- but, that doesn't have much if anything to do with this post.  Jessica drew this card while thinking about her soon to be brother in law and his surfing company in the Solomon Islands.  Jessica has never been surfing (although recently she did go paragliding!)  She also wrote about staying connected with family that is far away as well as dreams of starting a business.  At the end of her note she asked me what kind of business I might start.  I have often thought about a car wash or a bakery so that I could employ some of my students/or clients who are out of work, without a steady job where can people go in life? I have heard of these types of business being good models for this type of thing. I guess not as exciting as a surfing company, is it? What about you, what type of business would you start if money and risk were not factors? What is your dream?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Slowing the snail

Snail mail just got slower. The New York Times reports that the U.S. Postal Service is closing 252 processing centers and laying off 28,000 employees. Its one day service is all but finished. It seems that our steadfast postal peoples' version of speedy was not quick enough to compete.

Sad news for those of us who love the taste of envelope glue.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Joint account

Lynn is one of a few people (alive?) without a Facebook account. Having been a late joiner myself, I have tried to convince Lynn that it is nice to stay in touch with acquaintances, especially when I am far away. I also pointed out that I wanted her to see pictures I posted. But Lynn is private and was hard to budge so I gave up the nagging and instead found an alternative solution: I gave her my password. This means that every now and then Lynn checks in with the world and with me by logging onto my account (watch out!). And after doing so, she usually reports back on what she discovered. On the back of this card and she exclaims about babies and engagement announcements that friends had posted online that she had not known about. This never fails to make me laugh.

You see, the problem with our love affair with snail mail is that everyone else has moved on. They are blasting things to the world, while we are still sending targeted updates to each other. For us, this joint FB account/pen pal arrangement is the best of both worlds. Lynn gets my news and can spy on the world, while I am updated by Lynn (albeit more slowly). Unfortunately, the one hitch is that if Lynn has news the larger world may miss it. Yes, privacy prevails.

The card, by the way, is cut from a watercolor painting. It did not scan well, but I can vouch for the fact that it is way more beautiful in real life. Come to Ghana and you can see for yourself. :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Locked doors and blooming tea

Although Lynn told me to not read into her lock and key theme, she did mention that sometimes she wishes she could lock her door and close her blinds at work to block distractions. I couldn't agree more, especially now that I am trying to catch up from my time in the States.

Her card also mentions a visit to a tea house serving 'flowering tea' - a dried flower that blooms as it steeps in boiling water. I have a feeling this is not an extreme rarity, but I have not seen it before so I immediately googled it and came up with this.

Seems like a perfect drink to have when you are locked your office catching up from a holiday - or preparing for one!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

This card is fun, last year Jessica drew it right before coming home for Christmas.  This year, she came home for Thanksgiving and spent time in NYC, DC, and TC (her many homes...).  She drew last year's card after being in New York visiting friends.  I laughed went I read she missed being cold! I love that this drawing captures her joy at being back in the States, I can see her favorite things tucked into this imagined scene.  Where are you traveling this year?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A book club report

Lynn wrote in spiral on the back of this card so that I had to spin it like an antique vinyl to decipher it. As I spun the card around, I learned that through drawing this card Lynn found that watercolor paper is not great for color pencils. It is hard to make the color even.

She also reported that she was a member of a book club at long last. They had just finished The Help by Katheryn Stockett, which just happens to be in the theater this month, and were about to read the The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. A choice that Lynn was hesitant about because she had just read, and not particularly enjoyed, Muriel's earlier book, Gourmet Rhapsody.

It is funny to read this again now because The Elegance of a Hedgehog came up in discussion last week. A friend and I were chatting about recent/favorite reads and our reading addictions. I was lamenting that I was having a reading dry spell. For more than a year, I had been taking months to get through a single book, reading only a few pages a night. This is not at all like me at all, I had exclaimed, I am usually a binge reader. It was then that I remembered that The Elegance of a Hedgehog was the last book that I had read cover to cover in a single night. I had planned to read a couple chapters before bed but the sun was threatening to come up before I finished the last page. I only caught a few moments of sleep before work. Not particularly responsible, but perhaps not the worst pleasure to indulge. Lynn, I cannot remember your final review. Did you end up liking the book? What are you reading now?

(Note - I'm in Michigan and have yet to conquer the family scanner so this postcard is especially mini, sorry Pal!) .

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This outline drawing is fun because in Oct of 2010 Jessica was just learning about silly bandz!  Having worked in an elementary school, I had known about the bandz craze for quite a while.  They are really fun! Apparently someone came to Ghana and brought silly bandz in the shape of Sherlock Holmes and Micheal Jackson.  I remember a lot of the time I needed the kids to tell me what their band was supposed to be as some don't jump out at you right away...I'm not sure I would have guessed those two.  Jessica saw some kids on her walk one Sunday and decided to draw up some silly bandz of her own!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Lynn's little dogs have been featured on a few postcards. This is a drawing of Mickey from a picture taken while visiting Lake Michigan. Apparently, he was so excited that he was flying around checking everything out. I totally relate with Mickey. When I hit the beach at home, I cannot help but jump around either. How could we not be thrilled? Who could resist this:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tamale Tree

This is a dot portrait from a photo Jessica took in Tamale.  Sometimes she posts photos of her neighborhood and office which help me to imagine her daily life in Ghana.  Still finding dot drawing therapeutic , Jessica wrote about making time to be creative helped her to add something more than just "de-stressing" to her life.  It was a time for a whole other way of being and thinking.  She sits down two times during a month to utilize postcards as a way of getting in touch with a different part of her life.  My process is more doing batches of postcards at a time, sometimes 4 or more in a day.  It's interesting to me to read about her process and compare it to mine because both of us use these postcards to make time to do art because art is an integral part of our lives. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011


This card reminds me of one Jessica drew at the very beginning of this project, almost three years ago. Then she was visiting Cairo while living in DC. These camels were inspired by a airline magazine (again). Jessica was feeling inspired by the arrival of new staff people and had a wonderful group of summer interns who had just departed. It was nice to hear her upbeat about people and know she was getting some balance in her life in Ghana.  She even noticed that her use of colored pencils showed how much better she was feeling of late!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Finding time to stitch

Ghana has great fabric. Knowing Lynn was sewing, I remember asking Lynn if I should send her some so that she could keep stitching. She laughed at me. Apparently, fabric was not a constraint, but making time to sew was. About a month later I received this postcard from her. Proof that she had fabric and plans. Lynn, were you able to make these plans happen?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Postcards from hell, 2011

Typically you get postcards from warm sunny places with palm trees, coconut drinks and umbrellas. The cards are signs of affection and an easy way for your faraway friends to show off. Very rarely do you get a postcard from the armpits of this world. Too much is brewing there; who has the time or inclination to write? And if they did, how would they fit all they had witnessed and felt on the back of a 3x5 card?

A recent Foreign Policy photo series by Elizabeth Dickerson Postcards from Hell, 2011 takes a stab at this. The combination of striking pictures with short narratives make the series seem postcard-like in an ironic way. Worth a glance, since it is unlikely you are going to find these in a mailbox near you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stockpiles and Seasons

While I stock pile sketches for inspiration, Jessica sometimes stock piles her cards and sends 6-10 at a time.  I get bunches at a time and then catch up with what she wrote on each one.  Unlike me, she doesn't write them all at once!

This card has a summery image of a starfish but really Jessica drew it in the fall.  She wrote about missing seasons in Ghana, and how the Indian summer and leaves changing color were some of her thoughts of autumn. Oddly enough with all her talk of the fall, Jessica spent hers in South Africa where it was actually spring.  She wrote about feeling like a new beginning was happening with the blooms and the energy. It is fall now, again, and for me back to school always makes me feel a renewal.  What about you, do you think of fall as starting again (new things like supplies and new faces, kind of like when you were a kid with back to school) or is it just spring that makes you feel energized and like starting fresh (maybe cleaning and waking up after a long winter)?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Doodles lost

Lynn's discovery of an old sketchbook has been referenced a few times in the last few postings. It seems that the rediscovery of old doodles provided a real source of inspiration. This doodle is a piece cut out from that very same sketch book. I feel lucky to have gotten a corner, even if it means that next time the sketchbook is re-found it will be missing a piece. I like to think that perhaps its finder will come looking for the rest of the puzzle.

On the back, Lynn wrote, "And here is the only fun doodle I found in my sketch book. I like to think of phones like these. We had a rotary phone when I was in elementary school - and now kids have crickets/cellphones! Remember how cell phones exploded after Junior year? Sometimes it even amazes me that you can call me from Ghana. I guess I sound like an eighty year old with all this babble about 'the old days'."

Oh pal, you are my favorite Luddite. And, yes, I owe you a call.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Water color pencils. I had almost forgotten that they existed, and I never understood what to do with them until I received Lynn's card last summer. Lynn clearly knew that these nifty pencils can make clean lines easier. A great attribute, since successful clean lines are a headache for any new water-color student using a brush, or at least this has always been my experience (I know this may mean I need to learn to live in a world without lines; I am working on this. But as my post cards demonstrate, I have a hard time letting go of borders).

Lynn wrote on the card's belly that she had been thinking of picnics. Picnics she had decided were better thought of than to be had. Bugs, ants and heat, resident picnickers, make her prefer to enjoy her sandwich somewhere other than reclining on the lawn. Although I have had my share of lovely park picnics, living in the tropics, where we take all of aforementioned components up a notch, I must say that she may be on to something.

Cheers to the waning days of heat and bugs my pal.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Running is a "Jessica" theme just like Africa.  On this running postcard she announced she was running again!  This was good news for me because I knew that meant she was attempting some work/life balance.  She wrote about the gym where she runs, it was interesting for me because when living abroad I too was a hotel gym member!

Jessica was a big runner in college when we were roommates.  (I may have written here about how I often was dragged on runs/went along willingly only to end up breathlessly in pain after a few minutes).  Jessica had this wonderful running log.  She would write about runs she took and after each date just jot something memorable about that day.  I imagine she started writing in that again, and while running inside meant she wouldn't have to make notes about running past African scenery, she would have ways to remember non-work events.
Enjoy this colorful card!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scratch off cootie catcher

Now isn't that a catchy title?
Last year, Lynn sent me a fantastic birthday gift - a cootie catcher with a scratch off heart.
One pick at a time I got words of wisdom on how to start a new decade:

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. | When planning for a year plant corn. When planning for a decade plant trees. When planning for life train and educate people. | Happy people plan actions, they don't plan results. | Success is often the result of taking a mis-step in the right direction.

A lot of sage advice to mull over, pal; good thing we have a decade to do so.

Monday, August 22, 2011


(a.k.a to continue an African theme...)
The card is such a classic African image.  I love the colored pencil, this one and her next card are just stunning!  

Jessica drew this card after a trip to Kenya to see her former host family.  She hadn't seen them in a decade, but found other than all being a bit older and further along in their careers it was an easy reconnection.  I often wonder about visiting my old host families, but don't live or travel anywhere in their area of the world anymore.  Its been 10 years for me too, and I like to image what my host siblings grew up to become. Any people you used to know that you wonder 'where are they now?' This postcard also is a continuation of our recent 'inspiration' theme.  Jessica was inspired by an in flight magazine.  She wrote to me these are a great resource.  So, I think we have finally found the one purpose for this type of reading material- congrats on that Jess people were never sure what those were for until now :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Los Animales

Jessica drew this little sketch of an animal as she was thinking of Northern Ghana.  That area is quieter and full of nature, so maybe she was channeling its peace into hectic work life? Having just been on Safari myself I can identify him as a Thompson Gazelle or Impala!

She went on to write about turning 30- a transition we've both had lately.  Apparently, Jessica read that the 20's are now emerging adulthood while 30 means you're truly an adult (this has something to do with the brain).  Jessica jokingly says we are both slow to mature, but according to science we're just following normal human development!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Four seasons

Lynn was playing around with common postal pal themes - seasons and trees - when she drew this card. This image does not do her creation justice. By the time she sent this, she was finding herself in the middle of the summer break feeling relatively unproductive except for regular work outs. Aspirations of creating art everyday had not been reached so she wrote that she had looked for inspiration in old drawing pads... which apparently led to little more than a reminder of the ceramics class she had taken with me in our senior year (not a bad thing to remember I must say). Perhaps in hopes of soliciting ideas, she spent the rest of the card asking me about my creative outlets... which in theory was a good strategy except for the fact that by this time I had morphed into a complete workaholic. Not an art inducing activity. Somehow though Lynn pulled through and kept up with her post cards.

Since this week I have been trying to make myself sit down to draw a card after a crazy month, reading this is a good reminder to me that I should not wait for a great source of inspiration. Taking a pause and letting ones mind wander - at last - is likely to be all I can manage and is luckily all that I should need.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flying through time

This blog is getting loopy in very fun ways. A year ago, I blogged about a cut paper postcard I made the year before, reflecting that I would have liked to do something similar but to then lay the cut paper on photo paper to create a cyanotype. A few weeks later, I got this card from Lynn showing me she had tried my idea out. It worked!

In other words this blog post was two years in the making in that it is about a card that was inspired by a blog post that was inspired by a postcard made two years ago...

Friday, July 22, 2011


So this card is of an African image.  Jessica drew it while talking with a friend on Skype, pretty impressive that she did this great drawing at half attention.  Its so detailed the way she's layered the colors!

She wrote on the back, comparing her ideas of West Africa before getting there to the life she'd experienced since arriving.  She had some different ideas than what she ended up seeing.  It was so interesting to me that this was the card I am posting about having just come home from my own Africa experience.  Having just come back from Tanzania I find myself thinking about the same thing.  Tanzania is full of wonderful people, nature, and overall spirit but lacks infrastructure that makes life easier.  People seem to spend so much time doing the basic tasks of survival even in big cities. I know Jessica has a lot of great work going on with her organization and its great to see how she's meeting a true need!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rothko and Yoga

Jessica was inspired by those two things to draw this illustration with a nice color combo!  She asked me how things were wrapping up with school, remember she was hyper and giddy as a child and wishing me and the teachers luck as we corraled the kiddos for the last few weeks of June.  She was just getting back from vacation, or maybe still thinking about one from a few weeks back, while I was starting out my summer break.  I think the restorative theme of this card was good for both of us!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book portraits

Lynn was catching up on cards last June; just as I am now. There are some months that I just cannot keep up. Having read about doing bookshop portraits - a portrait showing only what someone likes to read - on Jane Mount's website, she used our postcard project to take up the challenge. Since Lynn goes to the library regularly, drawing only books she owned was a constraint. However, she made due, including bookends she owned as a child (she loved that they were blue) and 'escape' books that she had enjoyed. It is a fun window into my pal's far away life.

Since I haven't had enough time to do pleasure reading lately, I became a bit nostalgic about escape books re-reading this postcard. Sounds like such a luxury! I am afraid that a book portrait of my current state of being would be a bit too serious. Sigh. Somehow I think Lynn might agree.

School is out for the summer

I missed a card Lynn did last may, so I am posting it now. This 'photo drawing meld' as Lynn called it turned out well. It reminds me of a drawing assignment I received in a high school photography class. We ripped one of the black and white photos we had developed into half and then drew the missing side. Since I had never taken a drawing class (and still haven't!) I remembered not being sure I was up for this. I surprised myself a bit to find that with a little effort I could make the other side of the house I had captured with my camera materialize in pencil form. Makes me want to do this exercise again.

On the underbelly of this card, Lynn wrote about wrapping up the school year for summer. In addition to saying farewell to some retiring teacher friends, she also hosted the school's girls' club End of the Year Party. Apparently, this meant containing 35 girls with a sugar high for a few hours. Wild from all of the pop they drank, they broke out into playing 'America's Got Talent' for an hour. (Somehow reading this, I assume they were drinking red Faygo... I have no idea why.) I have a feeling this made Lynn especially appreciative of the relative silence that came with summer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back to making her art

This was an icebreaker card last year, Jessica had not drawn or been to the post office in a while.  What do you see in this card? Its abstract and fun to imagine what it could be.   Any ideas?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sewn balloon

Last year, Lynn was catching up on a month of card making as school wound down. Her inspiration was coming from all kinds of places, including a sewing site she uses for free patterns. Which makes me think now, have you been sewing lately, pal?

At the time, Lynn was also contemplating a new school and the possibility of purchasing a house. These are big topics for the back of a postcard, and I remember wishing I was closer to her so that we could have chatted about these decisions face-to-face. What fun it would have been to scope out potential houses and to contemplate neighborhoods, landscaping and layouts. Being a postal pal is nice but during formative periods, like last spring, the paper chain seems sadly inadequate.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tech toys and more

Jessica drew me this litte guy and then wrote about being busy at work.  Who is he Jess?
Anyways, she was working a a record breaking speed and feeling recharged by vacation.  She had gotten a cool gift from her dad, tiny speakers that plug into her iTouch.  These fabulous little speakers came from Singapore, she was impressed by the quality from the small size.   Hopefully her music or podcasts helped her to get through the summer where work was doing amazing and interesting projects but keeping her worn out!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Where oh where did April go?

Lynn asked last spring. From the sounds of it, April passed with a flurry of Kentucky Derby and outdoor grilling parties. The weather was nice so Lynn made use of those special first warm days of the year.

This sketch was from a notebook Lynn used for her pottery class at K many years back. Makes sense to me that these seed pods and dragon flies were meant for the kiln since this design would be beautiful as a glaze. I can imagine that if you carved both designs into layers of glaze and wax before firing the end result could be stunning. Another mental note for a time when I am back at the wheel.

Speaking of long lost months and hobbies... Lynn, this card mentions you wanted to start climbing at the gym. Did you ever go?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Links

So sometimes things get us down (and by things, I mean the daily grind, work, getting up early, rainy weather) and we need a little something to pick us up.  This link takes you to a page on a blog which describes all kinds of happy mail.  This blog is about art, mail and friendship- two of which I think are hit right on with the concept of happy mail.  Pictured here is a set of small drawing supplies packaged in a waterbottle and sent to a waiting postal pal. Sending a smile through the USPS is such a fun idea, I wish I had thought of it myself!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Upsidedown (that's good)

This card was drawn by Jessica as she rejuvenated in South Africa with her friend last spring.  But spring north of the equator looks like Fall south of it! Jessica had been living at the equator long enough to enjoy any change in season.  She was also enjoying life's little normalcy's which were a bit easier in Jo-burg, a haircut, new shoes and a cup of coffee. 

Do you think you could live in a place without changes in the seasons? I found it very hard.  While I dislike gray and cold weather, I love the blooming of spring and the colors of fall.  You?

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Blogging a year ago reminded Lynn about 'perspective.' What she meant by this was that she had remembered that when she was eleven she loved watching the Commander Marc program on PBS. He would draw lots of streets along with interconnected pipes to teach roundness via shading. This card was a back to the roots activity not just in its style, but in that the street is loosely based on Lynn's neighborhood growing up (a postcard from the past I never thought I would receive). Since I know that Lynn's family now lives in a new area, I was at first impressed by her memory, but then I began to think about my own childhood street and I feel like I can remember every blade of grass.

Perspective. It is drawing term that makes you step back and think. Have you been practicing this lately, Lynn?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Walks in Ghana

Jessica wrote on this postcard about her recent decompression by walking.  She was working in Tamale on lots of new projects and living out of a hotel which was dizzying at the time.  She found herself walking at night just to get some space.  Along the way, some kids would try to work up the courage to talk with her or stand near here.  She wrote about the kids calling out "salmiga, hello" and then running away again.  (I'm hoping I read the greeting right, Jess correct me here if its not salmiga).  She would try to ignore them, waving is too scary for them I guess.  I'm  also guessing this image is something she has also seen on her walks, or imagines she might.    Can you tell us what Kayao is Jess?  A woman carrying a load on her head is such an African image.  Enjoy her beautiful postcard.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photographer to the Tzar

Winter is coming to an end and spring is in the air in the Midwest - or it should be. It sounds as if winter is reluctant to release its hold this year, since it is late April and I have been receiving pictures of my father's snow filled yard in my inbox. However, snow or no snow, spring break must go on and Lynn recently return from her 'spring' break pilgrimage to the Twin Cities just as she did last year.

While she visiting her parents a year ago, Lynn's mom shared a program with her on the work of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, the photographer to the Tzar who began producing color photographs in 1906. When you look at his images it seems impossible they are real. They feel staged, because we are so used to seeing that period in black and white. Lynn found inspiration in the photos he took while on the silk road and this postcard is from a picture titled, Fabric Merchant. When I look at the photo now, I again wish I could travel to Russia to see how it has developed in the last 100 years and to have a better understanding of the street view that this merchant may have been looking out on to that day. Thank you for the inspiration a year later my pal.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fast and Furious

Jessica sent me both these cards last April, after traveling for three weeks she was back to her work schedule.  Jessica never has much free time with her job, but she was trying to find ways to enjoy what little she had.  She wrote about meeting a friend for concert, trying to connect with a potter and spending time drawing in this park.  Nkrumah Memorial Park is a typical developing world park from what she described, well maintained, fenced off, and full of interesting people watching.  I like the way her sketches are loose and fast while still giving a lot of detail- hope that comes across in the scans of the drawings too. 
  What are you up to in your free time, making any time for being creative? 

Sunday, April 3, 2011


In what seems like a former life, I used to go to SpeakeasyDC's monthly amateur night at any chance I could get. Brave souls would climb on stage to speak their minds, share memories and spill their secrets to the world - telling true stories on stage without notes. Lucky for me, SpeakeasyDC and its NYC sister The Moth have podcasts that scratch my itch from afar. My happy habit of podcast listening led me to Pen Pal, a story by Boris Timanovsky who relives a online pen pal relationship that he brokered and 'managed' for his son. Not only does the story have a good title, it is hilarious and well worth a listen... even if it does not end up being much of promo for pen pal setups.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Save the postcard

I remembered recently, when I found a High Life Magazine in the back corner of my art drawer(smuggled from a trip last fall) that Lynn and I have an ally in British Airways. (Yes, I smuggle airplane magazines now and again. Is it possible to resist global photographic inspiration?) Their October 2010 edition was especially tempting since it contained an article on saving the lost art of postcard writing, which was written to launch an effort to save the post card sending. A corporate initiative I can get behind. In reflecting on postcards, they write:

It was a standard rite of being abroad: a trip to buy a bunch of cards. Stamps had to be bought in tobacconists. Or maybe that was just in France. Then settle into a café to perform two epistolary tasks: the gratification of anxious parents and the annoyance of jealous friends.

This is now nearly a thing of the past. A TripAdvisor survey showed that just 11 per cent of travellers still send postcards home while 60 per cent use text.

Like the ashtray, which faces extinction because of smoking laws, the postcard is a minor art form that struggles to survive. Facebook, email, texting and tweeting have deskilled communications and impoverished our visual culture. But no new medium has ever completely succeeded its predecessor and the easier it becomes to send electronic tosh, the better will be appreciated the charm of a well-written postcard. Generally speaking, the easier it is to communicate, the less art goes into the communication.

Oh no, how sad! Not if Lynn, British Airways or I have anything to do with it. Check out their celebrity postcard bid auction. The opportunity to buy is lost (thanks to my cluttered art drawer, which led me to forget to post this earlier), but the tiny art that was sold still is up and available for viewing. I have posted one by Alice Dellal for inspiration. Lovely.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Tamale

This is a room where Jessica stayed when she visited Tamale the first time for work.  I don't know if she stays here still, but she was there when she drew herself in the room.  Sometimes the daily stuff around you is what you start sketching (perhaps if you are out of ideas).  While usually the ordinary is a bit uninspiring in this case its great because I can see what Jessica is around everyday.  Now that she lives in Ghana its hard for me to imagine sometimes without a visual.  On the back of her card she talked a little about her process, of getting an idea and playing around with a few versions of the drawing before getting something she wants to send me in the mail.  I think it was about this time last year that I started a sketchbook for ideas, it let me practice with things I'd like to draw and keep track of ideas.  Where do you keep your inspiration for your creative pursuits? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bird a la Martha

Yes, this was inspired by Martha herself. Seeking valentine card ideas, Lynn happened upon a MS posting on Victorian birds and viola a plan for a card to her pal. A slight change from her actual valentine card theme last year - 'mechanical pets.' Not really sure what this means, but some how I imagine cut puppies with hinges. No matter, these are perfect snow day activities, especially when combined with a few hours hunkered down with a book called The Swan Thieves.

I have been sorely out of touch my friend. Any recent snow days? What are you reading? Let's hope my month goes out with lamb so we can finally discuss these very important details.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Excuse me, where but can I send my mail?

I had to laugh when I re-read the back of this post card.  Jess told me she had been living in Ghana for a month and she hadn't found her post office yet!  I laughed because of three things that I thought of back when I got the card, and immediately remember now. 

First when you are in a new country, you tend at first to cling to small things you know how to do and can go months without bothering to learn anything new if it isn't essential to your daily life.  (As in find out how to send a letter? Not today thanks, I'm good, I'll just keep talking the bus from this stop here and visiting the corner store that doesn't actually sell cereal which I really would like to eat.)

Second, because when I moved recently I felt oddly attached to my post office and library.  I secretly went back the ones I no longer lived by because I was a bit sad about leaving them. 

Third, I laughed hardest because when I first bought international stamps to start mailing postcards to Jessica in Ghana the post office clerk immediately said "Oh, I know why you want to send letters to Africa.  I had a nice young girl in the other day for the same thing, you are sending letters and papers there so you can adopt a baby.  You know, she got her baby and then boom! she was pregnant with a baby of her own.  You hang in there sweetie!"  Shucks, in a manner of minutes I was no longer a customer, but a hopeful adoptive mother with infertility problems.  Its one of the reasons, perhaps, I should be glad I got to leave that post office behind.  What will she thing when I never come in with an African child?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Quilted post

A quilt inspired card by Lynn that could be a series. Exploring quilt designs, she ended up cutting rather than stitching. Lucky for me. The card mentions that she was just starting to tell that the days were getting longer - it was light until 5pm. A relief because last winter's dark days had felt particularly draining. Lynn, are you starting to see the sun now as well? I am living winter vicariously through you, remember.

As an aside, I went to a 'full service' copy shop to scan my postcard (one reason this post is a week late). It was my first visit, and the first thing I noticed was that the woman at the shop seemed down right mean. Scowls and sucking of teeth without prompting. It took only a few minutes to realize she had no idea how to use the computer or scanner. Poor lady hadn't been properly trained for her job, and there I was tapping my foot. She willingly gave up the mouse when I asked, and moments later I had my postcard scanned. Meanwhile, the other employee, sitting next to her, was clicking clicking clicking away at random on his desktop. No wonder they were cranky. Imagine if you sat at work all day hoping no one asked you for something because you didnt know how to do it. When I left she returned my smile, shyly, as I walked away. Next time we will skip the scowls I am sure.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Zen admist Chaos

I know I wrote before the cliff jumping girl was Jessica's first card mailed from Ghana, but the back of this one says it was her first one drawn there.  Who knows for sure, but both were from pretty early on in her new job there.  She writes that she is into the little dots and that they help to provide moments of zen in the chaos of life there. 

I have been thinking a lot about living abroad this week- not only will I host a Japanese teacher in a month- one of my old haunt Egypt has been on the news.  Its odd to think of a place I lived being the site of something so real and meaningful.  I also think of Jessica, stay safe pal!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Posting my secrets

Last night I found myself telling someone about this blog. Considering that it is always on the back of mind, it is sort of amazing how rarely it comes up. It, in itself, can feel like the most public secret I have. Which is fitting because it started as a way to keep our thoughts underground. Lynn and I began bloging in part because after a year of mailing postcards we each had a pile. Pretty designs on one side and sometimes sordid confessions on the other. My artist mom was dying to take a peek, and I was not sure I wanted our friendship laid out on her kitchen table. So we started a blog. Quite a counter intuitive approach to keeping our friend club to ourselves.

Recently, I have been feeling a bit like our secret blog. Having gotten better at being strategic about keeping my mouth shut and certain thoughts to myself, I am reminded that we are all a bit like postcards. Aren't we? However, this pent up frustration comes out in my art and reinforces my desire to gush gory details to Lynn via snail mail. Now and then I love to draw a mean postcard. It makes me feel better and I know Lynn can take it with a grain of salt - misposted frustrations.

Thus the reason I love PostSecret. It has gotten quite a lot of press, but is worth a visit now and then. In this spirit and since I have neglected to scan Lynn's post card, I have uploaded a recent submission that I sort of adore.

Watch out Lynn. I am going to the post office soon.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Week

This card was written Jessica's first week in her new home and mailed to me from Ghana.  She had lots of positive feelings about her new job and home, and she wrote "I predict I will be gald I made the plunge."  Having moved to new countries before, I remember being impressed she was so positive.  I often felt overwhemeled the first few weeks, so I was glad to hear my friend was doing great.  She wrote, "I feel like I'm living on the edge and making room for opportunity"  Sometimes our cards are snippets of daily life, and sometimes like this one, they are powerful words.  Lets make room for opportunities in our lives!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sewing Machine

This is a drawing of Lynn's grandma's sewing machine. It was old and apparently made the 90 inch seams of her duvet cover feel like they took forever. Lynn wrote that she was glad to back in the modern age after a recent upgrade, which lets her zip along with ease.
Since I have been wanting some new skirts, sewing is something I have been thinking a lot about recently. I dont have time to sew at the moment, but one perk of living in the developing world is that it is easy to get clothes made. All I need to do is dream up a design and buy some fabric - no new machine needed.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

'thank yous'

With the holiday season over, I've been receiving a few lovely thank you notes.  Its always fun to get mail, and while these may not be the most fun to write, they are nice to receive.  Seeing the fun designs of cards made me file away several ideas in my inspiration sketchbook.  I thought I would share two favorites in this photo. 

sources Crane and Co., Laura Brown, and calligraphy via ISLY
What about you, are you still writing thank you notes?  Also, on a semi-related note this Slate article talks about the trouble we all have coming up with intelligent things to say in such notes, give it a read so you can make a good excuse why you didn't thank anyone this year.