A Big Stack of Mail

I picked up the mail on Monday and there were a stack of 30 new envelopes to check in for the Liberate Your Art postcard swap! With just over two weeks until the swap deadline, the envelopes will be arriving fast and furious from this point on. I’ll pick them up again tomorrow and early next week, to stay on top of check in!

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What do I mean by “check in”? For each envelope that arrives, I open it up and make sure that it has the right number of postcards with a message written on the back, along with stamps and labels. For international participants, I match their envelope up with Paypal payment. I unpackage all items and remove any extra things the envelope – like extra postcards (not required, but accepted with thanks!), bags, paper clips, pieces of paper with email addresses, etc. If there is a problem something, I set the envelope aside to follow up with the sender if I can. For the rest, I put the stamps, labels and postcards back in the envelopes and store them until swap day. It takes some extra time along the way, but this way I know everything is ready to go and there won’t be any problems or surprises when it’s time to swap on March 15!

So what wonderful envelopes have I received this week? Let’s take a look…

We have a new country this year! Woohoo! Cathy from Singapore sent this envelope with a little regional flair:

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And a lovely collage on the back!

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Julia sent this painted mail art from Washington. I loved the subtle little detail of “mail art” written in some of the circles.

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This gorgeous sea-themed envelope arrived from Eric in France. (Hint: He is one of the answers in the Treasure Hunt! Are you participating this year? You have a couple of days left to send in your entry.)

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Hearts arrived from JarieLyn in Nevada. Made me smile!

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These cute arty ladies adorned the front and back of the envelope from Janice in California…

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Patty in Virginia expressed a sentiment that went straight to my heart. Me too, Patty!

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I’ve got mail from Patricia in Washington! I liked how she printed an altered photograph right on the envelope, and I think that’s her, smiling out at me from the stamp!

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Sarah sent me on a beautiful walk in the Georgia woods with her envelope. I loved the imperative on the back, “Liberate your art, people!!!”

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And finally, here are a few postcards that were sent to me as well. It’s always nice to find a few personal notes mixed in with the stack of envelopes. I thought I’d share these as a little preview. Who knows, you might get one of these too, come swap day.

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Not long now, just over two weeks away!

How Silent the Trees

How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only. ~ Mary Oliver



I’ve been on a renewed Mary Oliver kick the last week or so, getting back into her poems after reading a couple of great articles on Brain Pickings. One of the articles included a fabulous interview with Krista Tippett from On Being

So instead of a lot of words from me, how about you listen to the wisdom and beauty of the words of Mary Oliver today? Grab a cup of tea and settle in. It’s worth your time.

Mail Art Extravaganza!

Wow, I think this is the best year for mail art ever! I have been receiving some amazing decorated envelopes for the Liberate Your Art postcard swap this year. To date, 65 envelopes have arrived. We are now in the lull… the early birds are done and the bulk of the participants will mail in the next two weeks. It happens every year!

I got behind on photographing envelopes last week, so this week’s update on the mail art is HUGE. Enjoy the Mail Art Extravaganza!

My address has never looked so good! Kate from Illinois does amazing lettering, which you might expect from someone who’s blog is named KateLetterplay. Don’t you think it’s cool how well her lettering complements the Marsden Hartley art on the stamp?

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Charlotte from Maryland highlights the “Date to Liberate” as March 15 — SWAP DAY!! (By the way, for anyone who lives in Oregon, you are invited to come over and help me stick address labels and stamps on postcards on Swap Day! Contact me if you are interested.)

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Jewels from Michigan has a question on the front of her envelope…

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…and the best answer ever on the back! Yes! This one just makes me smile.

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Patricia from Oregon has a message for you. I agree!

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Laurie from Florida created this gorgeously painted envelope. Can you see the texture? It’s feels lovely to handle! The last few years I’ve been seeing these gorgeous butterfly stamps gracing your envelopes. They always seem like such a beautiful complement to your art! I got curious and did a little bit of research on them. The artist who created all of these butterfly images is Tom Engeman, and you can learn more about him here.

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“The other Kat,” as she identifies herself to me, sent a lovely collage from Virginia. I love the message she added, “Art to be liberated waiting inside.” Soon Kat, soon! (And see, another beautiful butterfly!)

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This envelope from Jan in California is artfully done. I love how the swirls just lead me across the envelope. Such beauty and grace to find in the mail!

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Carol from Washington goes classic, with some ink and stamps. Simple. Effective. Beautiful.

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Speaking of simple, a few swooshes of ink and a hand cancellation make this envelope artful! From Sherry in Alaska, who wrote this great quote on the back of her envelope: Art is intelligence at play! – Albert Einstein.

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Bethany from Florida used washi tape to spell out my favorite initials – “LYA” for “Liberate Your Art.” That’s the abbreviation I personally use in all of my notes and reminders about the postcard swap! Who wants to write out “Liberate Your Art” all the time? LYA, all the way!

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This gorgeous mixed media piece is from Dee in California. Do you guys know how hard it is for me to open some of these envelopes? They are too pretty.

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I opened an envelope from Texas, and was surprised to find it was really from Luis in Mexico! Luis included a letter within the envelope, which explains all of the personal symbolism of the images he chose for the piece. Beautiful!

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And then there was the inside. More mail art waiting to be discovered, along with this postcards. Thanks Luis! Your envelope was an amazing treat.

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Here was something new… Have you ever opened an “envelope” with a seam ripper? I hadn’t, until this one from Donna in New Mexico. It’s a decorated piece of fabric, sewn shut. What a fantastic idea!!

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Do you see what I mean about some of these being too pretty to open? Here was the back of the “envelope.” Or should I call it a pouch?

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I have a thing for stamps, especially ones from abroad, and so Debbie‘s envelope, from the UK, threw me for a loop. At first I thought that “Mailmaker” stamp was a cool arty stamp, but it’s actually the name of her blog. I don’t think it’s a real stamp at all!

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Catherine, another artist from the UK, sent me this one. I love it when I see “par avion” on the envelope, a sign that art has come a long, long way to be liberated.

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What a lovely tree from Mikki in Colorado! Mikki is a ceramics artist, but she reminds us that all you need is a pen and an envelope, and you can create some wonderful mail art.

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And last, but definitely not the least, are these fabulous characters helping Wendy liberate her art from Texas. It’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s the mail!

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Whew! That’s a LOT of mail art, wouldn’t you say. And more on the way! I can’t wait to see what arrives next week.

Stick a Fork in Me…

…I’m done! My iPhone photography manuscript is complete, packaged and ready to send. It will be in the mail today, heading to Amherst Media and the next phase of production.

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Whew, what a project. 24034 words and 270 photo examples and diagrams. And that’s for a small book… It’s only planned to be 128 pages. I can now imagine the work that went into creating some of these larger photography tomes on my bookshelf. I’m glad my project was not that big!

I should feel excited, right? I guess I do. But what I mostly feel is relieved that I made the deadline with a week to spare, and a little bit empty. Every spare moment the last couple of months has been about finishing the book, so having all of that time and mental space freed up at once is somewhat unnerving.

I’ve been keeping a list of projects I need to do “when the book is done.” I guess that starts now.

But first, I think I’m going to go for a hike. The forest is calling me. We’ve had some beautiful weather, and I haven’t had the time to go out hiking until now.

Next, I’ll clean my studio. As you can see, it’s a bit of a mess. Some things just fall by the wayside when a deadline looms near.

And then? It’s like a blank page, waiting for me to fill. I think I might keep it that way, at least for a little while.

More to Liberate Your Art than Postcards!

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The Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap is in full swing! I’ve received 53 envelopes so far, many gorgeously decorated, like this one from Juana in Washington. 42 of the envelopes are from the US, 11 from outside the US: Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, UK, Canada, Australia and France. Exciting!

Don’t you want to join in? You have one more day before I close sign up! Visit the Liberate Your Art page and sign up for the special swap email list via the blue box. All postcards must be received by March 14, 2015 to be included.

It’s time for the Treasure Hunt!

This year I’m adding a “Treasure Hunt” through participant websites, to increase the opportunities for connection with fellow swappers. All of the details will be in the swap update email that arrives in your inbox tomorrow (if you are on the swap email list, that is!). A big thanks to Tammy Wilson for helping me with this! I couldn’t add this fun activity without her.

And there are PRIZES for the winners!! Beautiful pieces of art, donated by a few talented swap participants willing to liberate their art directly to you. Here is what you could win if you finish the Treasure Hunt…


Short striped vase on table Therese Misner
8×8″ acrylic/mixed media abstract titled “Gazing”
 
Sarah-Wiseman-6-cardsSarah Wiseman
Set of six wildlife greeting cards, images of her silk paintings

Christie-Juhasz-Handmade-PouchChristie Juhasz
8.5×5.5″ Handmade vintage and current scrap machine-quilted pouch, fully lined with zipper. She will include a sheet of postcard stamps and some mail art paper ephemera inside. Fun!

Tammy-Wilson-10-NotecardsTammy Wilson
Set of ten note cards from her photography

Rebecca-Hill-EarringsRebecca Hill
A pair of handmade earrings

Marcia-Hill-5-notecardsMarcia Hill
Set of five notecards of her pastel paintings

Linda-Ursin-Mixed-Media-PaintingLinda Ursin
Mixed Media Ladybug painting, 23.9×29.7cm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatricia Lyon-Surrey
2015 Calendar of her Vermont-based photography
Here are a couple of the images inside:
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Aren’t these wonderful? Be sure you are on the swap email list, if you want to participate! All of the instructions will be sent via email.

And now for more mail art…

Here are a few more of the beautiful envelopes I’ve been receiving. When you decorate your envelope, you are making everyone who touches them smile! Isn’t that awesome to think about? All it takes is a little bit of time, and maybe some stamps and ink, like this one from Lynne in Philadephia…

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Or how about a little washi tape, like this one from Lisa in Texas:

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You can get a little fancier, too! I love the stamps that Rinda from California uses, telling me to Do Something Creative Every Day…

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Thank you Rinda, I will do that! The back of her envelope was beautiful too.

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So, what do you think? Do YOU have it in you to brighten the day of everyone who touches an envelope? I think so! Go forth and create some mail art!

Liberating Your Art is about more than just postcards. It’s about bringing art into your life, and the lives of others, in simple ways. Think about what you can do.

A Moment of Convergence

In an artistic life, there are moments when everything comes together: The subject you discover, the piece you create, the audience you find. They all converge and you tap into something special, creating a piece of art that resonates with others.

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That happened last week with this piece, Stillness.

If you ask me, I won’t be able to tell you why this struck a chord. I’m not sure what it is about this image, compared to all of the others I’ve recently created, that connects. I was talking to a friend about it, and she tried to put it into words what resonated for her about this image, “It’s as if I saw something, really saw it, in a different way. You showed it to me that way.”

That sort of caught me off guard. Maybe I’d forgotten and needed to be reminded, but isn’t that what artists do? Artists show us the world with a different point of view. The best pieces of art are the ones that make you stop and think, or better yet, feel something.

It is awesome when that happens with something you create. You feel like you really connected with someone. Maybe tapped into something greater than yourself.

The hard part is, and maybe this is just me, I can’t do it on purpose. I can’t predict which of my work will make that connection. I create, and create, and create, and once in a while things converge. All I can do is that ongoing creation, following the direction my heart and the image wants to go, and the I let it go into the world and see the result.

The thing I do know… If you don’t do this kind or work — creating again and again, practicing, trying new things, and sometimes falling flat on your face — then you won’t ever find these beautiful moments of convergence.

And they, my friend, are totally worth it.