Every fall, I join iHanna’s postcard swap. Postcards not only make a wonderful art form, they include writing, and the combination of writing and art is something I cannot resist. Each year, I try to do something that challenges me to think of something interesting to make and fun to receive.
This year, I almost decided to do a follow-up to the last postcard swap and do alcohol ink abstracts. Not different enough. Having been out of the studio during the move and upgrading both places, I felt a little distant from making postcards.
Then I had an idea that sounded interesting–make a large piece of artwork, using color, an image and poetry, cut it into postcard-size pieces and send it out, inviting each card recipient to see the whole piece and how their card fits into the whole piece.
Here’s how I made it:
First, I measured the postcards and marked the size. This became the back of the artwork, so I could cut along the lines when I was done.
Next, I used Dylusion inks to spray some color on the watercolor paper and sprayed water on the ink to blend the colors.
Using a brush, I blended the colors. To add texture, I added strips of paper torn from a book on shamanism.
To soften and blend the colors, I added a bit more ink and then used white ink sprayed in spots to lighten the vibrant colors. Here’s a detail of the violet section.
Then, the whole piece had to dry completely. The next step was to draw a sparrow in the lower right corner and add detail with watercolor markers. Finally, I chose the poem, Christmas Sparrow by Billy Collins and wrote it quickly in dark gray ink. Here’s the piece before I cut it into individual postcards.
I love the idea that people who don’t know each other and will never meet will have different pieces of the same poem, the same idea. It helps me realize how connected we are all, strangers or friends, unknown to each other or enemies.
Each postcards links back to this post, so every recipient can see the whole piece as well as read the poem by clicking on the link above or here.
Billy Collins is one of my favorite modern poets. His books include Aimless Love, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Horoscopes for the Dead, and The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing.