In 2020 my art world and my travel world came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. All of my workshops, exhibitions and art fairs got canceled. I had two major road trips planned to continue my National Park quest – 14 parks in total. I had to cancel both of them. At first I used the unexpected absence of deadlines to delve more deeply into egg tempera. My time was well spent as it further cemented the fact that I love working in egg tempera. I am now working on a series of egg tempera paintings. It is a slow, meditative medium that is really speaking to me, but that is a post for another day. Instead, I started writing postcards to nature.
This past fall, several roads converged in my mind; I began to think of my 2021 goals; boosting my social media presence, finding a creative way to use some of my photography, perhaps a new body of work and finally, to practice my nature writing.
- Goal 1: Boosting my social media presence. I witnessed several artists creating daily year-long projects on Instagram, a series, a hashtag; all projects that were compelling and successful.
- Goal 2: Could a daily social media project utilize my photography as well?
- Goal 3: creating on a new body of work, sifting through my trillions (!) of photos might spark a new series, or find a forgotten treasure of a moment to paint.
- Goal 4: Could a daily Instagram project include some sort of writing?
All my roads met at the middle, a crossroads so to speak, my ‘Postcards to Nature’ project.
It was perfect! I was acutely missing my traveling, what better way to celebrate that than with a format dedicated to destinations! A format that features photographs as well as illustrations. And it made me begin my practice of writing.
Learning how to write…
I even found an online Nature writing at the moment this project was conceived and I jumped on it, seeing it as a sign. I had been keeping a bit of a nature writing journal; keeping notes on nature happenings each day. The postcard project would force me to write about a specific subject or event in around 100 words or less! I’ve actually found that I write about 120 average. I’ve been able to squeeze around 160 words when I write in little tiny postcard writing script, but it’s best if I stick to around 100-120. I am trying my hand at poetry and other types of writing, and I am learning the very necessary art of editing. I am really enjoying the tactile feel of writing with a dip pen and ink.
When January came around, and I had to plan what I would feature on the months cards, I just had to commemorate my trip around California last January. It was created around my Earth Air Water Fire: Balancing on the Edge” exhibit opening in Tracy, California. I sandwiched visiting national parks and wildlife management refuges around the opening.
I was a full time graphic designer before I started painting full time, so the idea of ‘designing’ postcards for each of the parks we visited intrigued me. There will be a few more of those to come over this next year, as I visited nine parks in July 2018. Of course I could probably create a whole year’s worth from my trips to Yellowstone alone. In total, I have visited 34 of the 61 parks so far…
Exploration and experimentation…
The final step also harkens back to my graphic design days. To post on Instagram, I decided to style and curate each card so I set up little mini photo shoots for each of them, shooting both the front and the back, in addition to scanning the actual card. In my graphic design and art director days, one of my favorite things to do was styling and art-directing photo shoots. I also designed the Stamp Series: conserve, preserve and protect, and the cancellation stamp from here at TuckerWoods Farm.
In addition to featuring photographs and creating new cards, I am featuring my art work I’ve already created based upon the places and dates of my travels.
I have a theory about myself, that I lived a previous life as a Victorian naturalist. I have a modern day collection I call my “Cabinet of Curiosities.” I am constantly looking around me when I hike, collecting little natural treasures that I stuff into my pockets: rocks, shells, dried plants, dead leaves, anything that strikes my fancy. And I can’t even begin to talk about all the art supplies I’ve collected. They finally have a true purpose!
The idea of creating postcards based upon my own experiences in nature and travel was, of course, ‘a natural!” It was also a way to showcase my work as a photographer in addition to my art making.
I started writing postcards to nature last December on the solstice, 12•21•20, and I hope to pull it all together with a published book after the project wraps up on 12•21•21 (a very cool number), and I plan on creating some sort of hand-binding to bind the postcards loose, separating them into four ‘books’ for each of the seasons.
As the project is evolving, I am finding it amazingly freeing as I explore different ways of creating the art.
I’m also enjoying corresponding with Nature writing postcards to nature daily. I hope that you will too.