Postcards from my head

Sunday March 6, 2005

Rummaging through one of my desk drawers this morning, I happened upon an unopened pack of fifty plain white ‘economy postcards’. I cannot, try as I may, remember why I bought them. I don’t often send postcards and, when I do, I generally send a picture postcard of wherever I’m staying or living at the time.

So, what to do with them? I was on the point of chucking them in the bin when it occurred to me that they’d make a good project for those five minute paintings and drawings I like to do as a warm-up exercise. Just little pictures, straight from my head. Pick up a pen or a brush and start doodling. They generally turn out to be landscapes, or little boats, sometimes influenced by a glimpse on TV, sometimes by whatever shape the first colour wash takes on as it hits the paper, causing it to crinkle and curl.

“Can I have a corner of the dining table?” I asked as Graham started out on painting the woodwork in the dining room.

“‘Course you can. Coffee first?”

“Strange you should say that…”

And so, armed with a mug of super-brew, I put the first of the fifty cards on my small drawing board, took up a medium sized sable, dabbled it in some cobalt blue, softened it with a touch of indigo, and off I went. I think I’ll have to tape them to the board in future because the card curled immediately the wash hit it. But it was fun, got my juices rolling, and soon enough, certainly within five minutes, a small, wet-in-wet landscape formed. I waited a little while for it to dry, added a few defining strokes with a small brush, and there it was. No masterpiece, but not a bad start. I shall keep at it, one a day, until the pack of cards is exhausted or my interest wanes. Like as not they’ll improve day by day because the head keeps working at the problem long after the brush is put down. You never know what may come of such unlikely beginnings.

The process is rather like that of emptying the mind and penning a haiku before starting on the day’s writing work. And the significance is about on the same level. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t really matter, either way, especially as, at the moment, it’s very unlikely I’ll have time to go on to do anything more serious on an average day.

As a project, it’s well-timed. Things are very quiet round here now as Graham moves determinedly into the final phase of getting the house ready for market. We keep rather strange hours, stay up late, get going late the following day, and find ourselves in real need of a nap in the late afternoon and a comforting movie last thing at night. There ain’t much opportunity for outings, nor for anything more than hovering about, ready to make tea, run errands, hold this, hold that… The general duties of a willing gopher, in other words.

Having a little daily session with brush, pen and card, then, is a good thing for me at the moment. I shall probably name the project ‘Postcards from my head’. I doubt it’s original, but this really isn’t an optimum time for originality.


Stickford, Mar 6,'05
‘Postcards from my head’ No. 1
Need to be a little more careful with tonal values



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