Sunday, January 31, 2016

off topic - ian barnard and chuck close

today i am sharing a quote [below]. you might want to google chuck close if you don't know anything about him. i chose his quote to go with this image. it would be a very nice way to address an envelope. you would need a chunky white paint marker. imagine it in landscape orientation.  chuck close does a lot of giant head shots.

the lettering is by ian barnard

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
-Chuck Close

Saturday, January 30, 2016

flowers for rachael

to make up for the october/halloween envelopes that are still tagging along in january, here are some very early spring flowers

i like how tombo markers dissolve g-tec pens. not as pretty as real watercolor, but so handy.

and technically this is from the desk cleaning pile. maybe it was a bad idea to get rid of that pile. maybe it was full of refreshing change-of-pace material.

Friday, January 29, 2016

rerun friday - stripe variation with flag

here is a variation of the elizabeth that i ran on jan 1st. this one is more elongated and sloppier. while i am not a big fan of flag stamps i'm sure there will always be a flag option so it's probably a good idea to have some stripe ideas on hand.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

exchange from finn (bird on head)

finn, smash and i have an ongoing exchange of bird-on-head mail. finn enclosed a note saying he hoped this was not too gory for my blog. no, it is not, but it is plenty close enough.

the post office worker who added the black Xs must have been super thrilled to be adding to the artwork. and it was serendipitous that it came on the same day i was reading a list of top 10 ideas for art therapy. not than any of us need it, but, i just wanted to see what was on the list. i've done all of them and one of them was:
collaborative art

and A+++++ to finnbadger for his really nice lettering.
super nice. i lurk around the internet and spot some very nice artwork on the envelopes you send. i am so pleased to see how well you are doing as an international mail artist.

BTW, that eyeball hanging out of the bird's mouth looks like a holiday tree ornament. i'm thinking this would be a good beginning on a holiday card - - - -  for ozzy osborn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

desk cleaning - 2 navy flowers

the flowers on these are from the gel pen and colored pencil binge of 2011. they went with the garden of love stamps.

snowflakes and flowers do not go very well and the edges of the stamp on the top one really bother me. i  hope i do not sound like i have lost my marbles - but the two straight edges plus the two zigzag edges are like fingernails on a chalkboard.
anybody else have problems with mismatched edges? it is a frequent problem when you buy books of stamps.

i tried a photo to show all the sparkles. probably just picked up glare.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

[not spooky] tuesday - from miss cathy

did you notice how paul newman is holding the flowers? very clever. the greens in the paper are a perfect color with the stamp. i always liked paul newman movies so i hope i come up with something fun to go with his stamps.

very nice centering, too. i have a really hard time centering

thanks for exchanging again, miss cathy.

Monday, January 25, 2016

inspired by sunday (for alex)

it needs a few more doodads. the white is gel pen and the colors are colored pencil. i really should have sharpened my pencils...but as always, i get really lazy on alex's mail because she is only 2 years old.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

off topic - karli ingersoll

here is someone who seems to be selling a lot of work and the lettering is super naive. it looks like she just started copying things and was not too concerned about seriously studying the traditional styles. there are raging debates among lettering artists about whether this debases traditional calligraphy. i always compare it to the Gees Bend quilts. those ladies just did whatever pleased their eyes and the happiness of the process shines through.

karli's art is very happy and might inspire you to just make letters, be happy, and don't stress.

there are other places on her website to look besides custom lettering.

this artwork could be morphed into an envelope - easily.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

dark green sickles

there's an expression i hear from younger people, "oh, snap" or "oh, snaps" and i have no idea what it means, but i said, "oh, snaps" about this one because i liked the idea of using those sickle shapes on the stamp, but the green is way too heavy for that stamp, so now i have to find another stamp, or set of vintage stamps....
this is from prismacolor swatchbook week. i like the way you get different saturation with the markers. this paper is a nice cotton. during prismacolor testing, it was obvious that the outcome is wildly different on different papers. not that any outcome is better than any other outcome. it's like life. you never know what's going to happen. you just have to try and fix things after they happen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

re-run friday - jeans on the clothesline

this is being written on nov 5, the day after i bought some more of these stamps. i try to avoid the vintage stamp store, but in the midst of a less than perfect day, i found myself driving by and the auto pilot made the turn into the parking lot. then, today, as i am filling up 4-5 months of blog posts, i stumble across this. lucky me...i'm still a big fan of  clotheslines....if you look closely, you will see tiny little details on the blue jeans.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

exchanges from tom & chuck m

these are from the oct exchange. tom (top) has clearly been taking some lessons. or, if he learned all of this on his own he is a wunderkind.

below is chuck m's. i showed this one when he had just the oval and pumpkin. i like his choice of lettering, the rounds all complement each other and tucking the J behind the stem is very nice.

thank you both for exchanging

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

desk cleaning jimi to elizabeth

no recollection of where i was going with these letters. those Es are distinctive, but they don't intrigue me enough to do any more of them. i was happy with the stamp and that pale green. happy to clear the desk.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

spooky tuesday - kathleen

every time i thought i had all the october exchange envelopes posted, i would find more. this one might be the last one. kathleen spent a lot of time drawing that lace by hand. the little words along the edge are wonderful touch. fun stamps. cool lettering.

thanks for participating in the exchange

Monday, January 18, 2016

inspired by mr rapp

my inspiration from yesterday was to just do my version of my favorite font that he has designed.

i should send him a fan letter.

it was the first time i really looked at the snowflakes and tried to draw them and i was surprised at how much fun they were. somehow, i am always thrilled with 5 pointed stars and then lose it when i try to make 6 pointed anything - like 6 petal flowers. but these worked out just fine.

oops, i see that the top snowflake is missing a couple lines at 10 o'clock.

i tucked the street address in above des moines.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

off topic - stephen rapp

if someone took a teddy bear and turned it into a human being it would be Stephen Rapp. i met him at IAMPETH and he is an extremely talented lettering artist. this is one of his fonts. you can see more at

and he had a website, but it might be in transition or expired. it seems like websites are antiques these days. glad i never got around to creating one.

this font is probably my favorite. if i fall on the ice and am in traction and can only plunk on a computer, i'd figure out a way to make envelopes using this font.

and then if you really want to dig, look him up on Behance and check out his Daily Doodle. it shows some pencil sketches progressing to finished art. i won't add a link since some of the words are not exactly the words you'd expect from a teddy bear. so don't go there if you have delicate sensibilities. also Late Night Doodles.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

pink parabolas to carol

another desk cleaning envelope. it had just the border and i had no idea which marker i had used. i grabbed a crayola and it seemed to be a perfect match. they are not  waterproof, so i blended them with a pale pink tombo - also not waterproof. i had the stamp in mind for the O in carol, but it wasn't as strong an O as i had hoped. the space that the L leaves bothers me. but i like the way the Cs, As, and Rs work together. L tends to be a bit of a problem when you are doing pictures. it is hard to substitute a lower case L because it looks like a capitol I.
in general, i find the parabolic lettering to be nearly fool proof. and once again, don't look down on the crayola markers. they are one of the very few inexpensive art supplies that holds their own when mixed with the better art supplies. not archival, but good enough for envelopes.

it would have been better to make the O - and then the L could have a very short cross bar. 20/20 hindsight.

Friday, January 15, 2016

missing exchange envelopes?

if anyone is missing envelopes from the december exchange, please let Jan know. if anyone is late getting theirs sent, please let Jan know. our participation is usually 100% and on time, but we like to know if there are any blips. thanks.

re-run friday - quick(ish) and easy

these two are super easy because you just pencil in the names, large, and geometric. the lines do not have to be straight, so that makes it easy.

the quickness of filling in the details depends on how many colors you use. the top one probably took a little time because i did the colored beads and then went back and outlined each one.

the lower one might have been a little faster. if you did not do a variety of colors, it would be pretty fast. it would be just fine if all the beads were just one or maybe two colors.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

forget-me-nots from smash - exchange

this is one of those stamps that i really love, yet, i have not had much success with any of my ideas. the minute i saw this, i knew that getting out some real art supplies and nice paper was the solution. you probably can't see it on the scan, but there is a tiny bit of sparkle, too.

so pretty

thanks, smash

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

desk cleaning - miss cathy's corn

i never got around to doing much with the vegetable stamps. that little red banner on the stamp could be used in many ways. the lettering is completely guerrilla. there is not one element of it that looks like it is supposed to look. i did do a faint pencil guideline. anyone who thinks they can't letter should just try an outline. there is something about an outline that makes the complete wonkiness seem intentional.

this is a little blah. it needs some bold black somewhere and i'd love to do the address in white on a red background. i might cheat and print out a font and adhere it. drawing it all out would be challenging.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

spooky tuesday - jan and smash

the top one is from jan, bottom from smash. i considered saving these to post in october, but they are both full of ideas that could easily be re-styled for valentine's day.

smash has itty bitties floating around in a clear envelope. and the name might have been written with a ruling writer. it's probably gouache.

jan painted her sky - and rubber stamped the images and colored them in.

thanks for participating in the exchanges
(and all the organizing -jan)

Monday, January 11, 2016

inspired by sunday - using crayola markers

tony, the guest artist yesterday, probably did some roughs. my approach was to just dive in with a fine line pen and that ended up in the waste bin. crayola markers (the kid's markers) are my go-to art supply when something is not working. this is just the first layer. the name and address panel was blocked out with the same Post-It tape i used on the jan 4th envelope. when i peeled the tape, i could see i needed lines. one line was blah. so on the E-X you can see i added a second line.

it is hard to know how much flourishing to add on these types of doodle pages. here it is with some g-tec and colored pencil. the yellow circle is the problem area. there is no point in trying to resolve all the problems with this one. alex is only 2 and  these envelopes are going to be things to entertain her. i'll fill them with stickers and what-not. any envelopes i do for her that are saveworthy will be waiting in a stack to send when she is a bit older.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

off topic - anthony bloch

not an envelope - but an idea that would make a lovely background on an envelope or you could do a square pattern on the left of a rectangular envelope and stack the address on the right, just under the stamp.

if you feel like practicing your flourishing, this would be a way to turn practice into something useful. just do your practice on some envelopes. a while back i showed some silver on navy envelopes where i did just that.

click on the items in the column on the right to see more of his work

here is the blog post of mine that shows flourish practice on envelopes.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

more prisma testing

the prismacolor markers look really nice with the snowflake stamps. then i layered several different gel pens and g-tecs. these envelopes are fun, but nothing new. i did like the tiny little addresses, but will have to do a fake envelope to show how they look. as usual, i am a big fan of a lot of contrast.

the i in LIZ was skinny, so i beefed it up with snowflakes.

using 3 snowflakes for the international exchangers seemed like a good idea. i was sad that i didn't insert something in the envelope to prevent the bleed through.

it's hard to tell if photos or scans will look better. spending a couple hours on each envelope would have been better. but, alas, i do not have that much time any more.

Friday, January 8, 2016

re-run friday - john's caterpillar

this is another one from 2010 and a favorite that i have yet to part with. i should add some more colored pencil to the caterpillars to make them more like the stamp. i recently resisted the temptation to buy another sheet of these stamps. i think there were 20 and you got 20 different insect or bugs. super cool.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

from rehj - oct exchange

i included the message from rehj so you can see how the heart was done. the ouija board is genius. just doing the oija board as the full envelope would be fun. the body she found for edgar is perfect. really nice. i took a break from posting halloween envelopes, but i'm sure the readers will enjoy seeing them, so for a while we will have spooky thursdays or fridays.

thanks for exchanging, rehj

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

dk wednesday - to geri (health tips)

for a while, i will have dk wednesdays. dk stands for desk cleaning.* the orange on this is wimpy because that's how it scanned and it has some fun Gelly Roll Clear Star glitter details.

the tip to notice is the use of three faint lines to help you position your address.

* why not dc? dc stands for district of columbia. dk stands for my brother, keeper of the kleanest desk in the universe.


one more note to the exchangers:
occasionally an exchanger will say or write something to me about being intimidated by the more advanced artists who participate in the exchanges. i assure you, the exchanges are open to everyone and the whole point is to have complete beginners exchanging with people who are more advanced. when i first started exchanging (20+ years ago), i treasured the envelopes i received from people who were light years ahead of me. those examples really inspired me to hone some skills. if the uber-talented artists (UTA) who participate in my exchanges did not want to exchange with beginners, they would not sign up. when a UTA receives a beginner's envelope they don't scowl at it and make snarky remarks...they look at the big picture and see all kinds of things that remind them how much fun it is to exchange mail. so please don't feel like your mail will be anything less than a pleasant surprise - no matter whose name is on the envelope. if you want me to critique your work and make suggestions, just ask. i am always happy to give tips and make suggestions. if you are stressing over the quality of your work, you have missed the point of my blog. it is to experiment and have fun and toss your work out into the world, then sit back and enjoy what shows up in your mailbox.

i just read the official zentangle blog. some nurse -somewhere- ran blood pressure tests before and after people did some zentangling, which is just organized doodling. and the blood pressure dropped by more than what blood pressure meds are able to accomplish. i don't have time to test enveloping, but my gut tells me that if you are puttering on envelopes you will get the same benefit as you would if you were zentangling. so, go forth and be healthy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

january envelope exchange sign up

to the right, another picture of jan and jean working on their envelopes for the january exchange. it is from the getty museum, but i can't find a good link. just go to pinterest and do a search for medieval.


sign up by the 11th. jan will send lists by the 12th
mail your envelopes by the 31st

beginners are most welcome.
no theme, any medium, details (rules) are listed in a tab near the top of the blog
just to the right of the Home tab.

to participate, email   janhardt [at] mchsi [dot] com
your name
your address
your email address (which will not be forwarded to participants)
5 or 10 envelopes (first timers, please do 5)
let Jan know if it is OK with you to have international addresses
(US postage is $1.20 for envelopes to foreign countries)

today's regular post is right below.

spooky [not] tuesday - from alyce and debra

these are not spooky at all, but they came in the october exchange. tuesdays are going to feature envelopes from exchanges.

i try to post all the received ones, but i might miss a few. if i have missed yours, i apologize. i'm only half organized and do not anticipate getting better. this is a blog about brainstorming and chore-avoidance. if you need organizational skills, there are blogs that will help you. but not this blog.
is a popular one - but certainly not the only one.

thanks to alyce and debra for participating. great lettering from both of you and alyce, you know i'm jealous of your copics :-)

Monday, January 4, 2016

inspired by sunday - alex wallpaper flowers

if things go as planned (and they never do) there will be an envelope on monday, inspired by the off-topic on sunday. i used Post-It note tape (see below) to mask off the name and a place for the address. the tape is 1-inch wide, i cut it down to 1/2-inch. i wanted to do something that was faster, so grabbed the prisma color markers. layerd a little pale pink tombo to make the edges of the letters crisper. then filled in with gel pens and g-tecs. when all the space was filled in, i peeled off the tape and looked at it several times before i realized that i had spelled ALEX wrong.  it was amazing how long i had looked at it before i saw the error. oh well. at least i know how to do this really fast. it was a fun envelope to have on my desk to use as a mindless activity to recharge my brain after too much hard thinking. clearly, i have to think extra hard on pretty routine tasks, like spelling fairly short words and names.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

off topic - lex wilson

no relation to my husband, lex wilson has posted many pages from his moleskins. no envelopes, but, i love the idea of filling up the background and leaving the first name empty. and if you like to draw simple loopy flowers, take a look at all the different ways he adds color, dots and additional lines to make each flower unique. maybe there are some repeats...i don't have time to deconstruct and tabulate. just three of these flowers would be enough to make a lovely envelope.

a link to his website

some of his 3D lettering is very cool. it's not something i am even going to attempt unless i fall on the ice and end up in traction for the rest of the winter....and i sincerely hope that doesn't happen.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

the pinterest game (bonus post)

today's regular post is below this one

from time to time there will be a link to a pinterest board (right above) that has a bunch of new-to-me mail art. i surf on pinterest and it is fun to find a board with a bunch of mail art that i have never seen before. i also like to see if they have any of mine or any of the mail done by my penpals, that links to my blog. this one has several from my blog. it also has a ton of new stuff. i could probably fill a couple weeks of posts just reblogging mail off this board. instead, i will send you surfing. i apologize if you do not have a pinterest account.

it was reeeeeeeeally hard to choose just one to post. i chose these two because they are  uber-stealworthy. they are from this blog. you have to go to july 25, 2014 to see these. i left the link to her home page. she seems to be having fun with all kinds of projects, many include lettering.

prisma testing pink and purple

on tuesday, there was a test pattern for my prismacolor markers. this was the second envelope. i had about 6 envelopes left of this variety. so it seemed like a good opportunity to use up some orphans. since alex has morphed into the typical little girl who only likes pink and purple, i figured i try to make her happy. too bad i had to mix those stamps and i did not want to annoy the canadians by putting them flush left. the details are sparkle gel pens - something else that little girls like. but the point was to see where i could go with the color combinations.

on second look, i wish i had put the hearts in the corner.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Google is making a change to blogger. Maybe.

This is a new post written on Jan 1, 2016. I just read a post on another blog that said Google was changing the way they allow people to interact with Blogger - Blogspot which is where I run this blog. As I understand it if you want to be notified of a new blog post you have to have a Google account which might mean Gmail. Also - there are readers who send me emails telling me that they are unable to leave comments. I think you will have to have a Gmail account to leave comments. Maybe not. I really have no idea how this all works. I know there are people who do not want to have any kind of Google or Gmail account. That may prevent you from easy interaction with the blog. Google is the easiest place for me to blog so I have chosen to be friends with them and while that may cause problems for some readers I do not see any realistic alternative. I am pretty sure it will be easy to just read the blog as usual.
Happy New Year.

happy new year - planning ahead with taras makar and elizabeth

elizabeth w sent this link because she knew i would love it. the peacock series was such a fun part of 2014. this peacock is in the animal calligraphy section in this group of images by taras makar. i posted this link before - and featured his writing of the word *sheep* to match each of the members of his collection.

as 2016 unfolds, there will be more art from other people. i'll post my own as much as possible, but, i have some obligations and will be away from my computer for approximately 6 weeks. all the jan and feb posts are being written in november of 2015. so they might be *dated* by the time they pop up. i thank everyone who reads, comments and sends things to me, both snail mail and fun links. participation by the readers is most welcome.

 this is a rerun from 2010, the year i started the blog. it has been a favorite and is in the stack of mail i have never sent because i like it too much to part with it. also, she moved from that address and i don't have her new address.