Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Jump right in.

I’ve been painting the little cards that I send off in batches of 5 to a nonprofit who distributes them to seniors in Michigan assisted living and nursing home residents, I get attached to almost every painting and it’s hard to put them into envelopes and mail them off. It’s kind of like they are my kids or something.

I need to start working on spring stuff again.

Before I mail them I like to just look at them, and I always take a picture before they go. I’m often surprised that I painted them, but other times it’s painfully clear that I did them, though most of the time I send them on anyway. I know how much it means to get a note in the mail, and most people won’t be offended if the artwork isn’t up to par.

Did these in January for Valentines. I think I did 10 of them.

Because, really, who decides what’s par anyway?

The nonprofit I make these for is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, and it sends cards all across the United States. I work with the Michigan chapter, because that’s where I live. But I know there’s a big chapter in Florida too, as well as smaller groups in the other states.

These just went to the seniors. Sometimes I do images a second time, so some of you might recognize something in here.

They take handmade cards that are donated by individuals and groups, and get them into the hands of people who could really use a smile. Check them out if you make cards and are looking for an outlet for your art. Your art doesn’t have to be watercolor. It can be anything at all, stamping, collage,pencil, anything that will make someone smile.

Still love to do birds.

But I really meant to blog about a tiny bit of branching out that I did. Something a little bigger than the greeting cards I’ve been painting since the pandemic began. This is a 5×7 piece, done from a reference photo I stole from a friend’s Facebook page a couple years ago.

I loved the color of her coat and boots and especially the hat.

I didn’t have enough confidence to try it back then, but I loved it when I saw the image on her page and thought it would make a really lovely painting. It’s her granddaughter, walking among the pines on one of their many adventures up north.

At the beginning of 2022 I began to think about trying to reproduce some version of the image. I always knew I’d mail it to my friend, regardless of how it turned out. It’s the thought that counts. Right?

Might even start to do some summer stuff. Even if there IS 5 inches of snow on the ground today.

But oh the pressure! To do something bigger, something specific to someone. And to do a person, even if it’s just the back of a person! All of those things made it very difficult to start.

These, done last fall, were much easier!

Why is it that we so often don’t want to start, in fear of failing. Of wasting a piece of paper and a little bit of paint? I did a practice painting in my sketch book and it wasn’t bad. So I took a deep breath and just began.

And I’m mostly pretty happy with it. Of course, like any piece, there are things I’d do differently, things I hope no one notices. But that’s true of any piece of art.

And in the end, it fulfilled a number of goals. One was to make my friend smile. Another was for me to try something different. And a third goal was to realize it’s just paper…dont worry, jump in!

From this past Christmas.

Today I encourage you all to take some time for yourself and jump into something you love to do. Or something you’ve always wondered if you’d love.

The experience will make you smile. Guaranteed.


Sending cards in new directions

Since this pandemic became overwhelming, way back in March, I’ve been painting little cards and mailing them off to people.

These were birthday cards.

It started as a little project to keep me occupied, and a way to send smiles to people who were stressed or homebound or lonely or all of those things. I planned on producing and mailing one little painting a day until we were through with all this virus stuff, which would certainly be, I thought, just a few months. At most.

Sympathy, birthday and happy retirement!

I was naïve.

Christmas kept me busy.

Now many many months have passed and I’ve mailed cards to almost everyone in my address book and then some. I stopped painting every day and I didn’t have a plan for what to do next.

The foot went to someone who broke his ankle, and the rose was sent in sympathy to someone who lost a sibling.

And then I happened across a Facebook friend’s post about getting recognition for her 1000th donation of a handmade card to a nonprofit group who in turns sends them to people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes. People who are stressed, homebound and lonely.

A Christmas card based on somebody’s holiday doormat. You know who you are.

The name of the group is Bring Smiles to Seniors and they have two offices, one right here in Michigan, just a few miles from where I live!

More last minute Christmas cards.

I emailed them and after a few messages back and forth I knew I had found a worthy group, people that would find good homes for my little paintings.

One of my favorites, a birthday card.

I’ve done my first group of 5 and sent those off. Now I’m working on my next group. I don’t feel pressure to paint every day, but when I feel like making a little picture I know I have a place to send it.

My first batch of 5 cards sent to make seniors smile.

I know the group is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, but it’s also making me smile. I guess that makes sense, I’m a senior too.

Christmas just kept going.

Some of you may see paintings here that look very much like paintings you’ve received from me. That’s because I’ve started doing some that I’ve done before, don’t look too closely, these might be better than the originals I sent you months ago!

Christmas was fun.

It’s true what they say. Practice does make perfect. Or, in my case, nearly perfect.

Some of these got mailed way after Christmas, but I hope people love them anyway.

There’s no real perfect in art, right? The artist always knows where something didn’t go as planned. Sometimes that makes a picture better, sometimes not so much. But either way, I hope those lonely seniors who get my next bits of art smile.

I think they will.

Moving on from the holidays now.


How to make a note a day

When all this virus stuff started making headlines I talked about using the time to connect with people in ways we haven’t in awhile. I remembered a challenge I once accepted to send a letter a day (or it might have been a letter a week) to someone, and how fun that had been.

And I vowed to do something similar during this crisis.

So I started the end of last week…scrounging through drawers looking for a card…finally finding one and sending it to a friend I haven’t seen in awhile who had surgery recently.

The next day I picked up a couple cards at the grocery store during my toilet paper run, and I’ve mailed those too. But I recognize that not only are buying enough cards to send one a day for the foreseeable future expensive, but I don’t really want to go out and buy anything during this stay at home order we’re living with here in Michigan.

So I took an idea from another friend’s blog, Far Side of Fifty. She makes cards all through the year. I’m sure people love to get them too!

I dug around in my basement bins for my old water color pallet and a pad of paper. I decided I didn’t want to mess around with trying to make a folded card, so I cut the paper into rectangles that will fit inside generic envelopes. Then I looked online to find “easy watercolor pictures’ and saved a bunch that I thought I could do.

And this morning I sat down and made three of them. I’ll write a note on the back, slip each into an envelope and mail them off, day by day.

It was fun to do them, and I hope they’ll be fun to receive. I don’t know how long I can keep this up…but I know I’m set for the next three days!

I hope you have found something fun to do with any spare time you’ve got. I recognize that not everyone has any time to spare during this crazy period. If you have kids at home, or are trying to work full time from home, or are taking care of friends and neighbors on top of your own worries, then you probably don’t have time to make cards and mail letters.

But maybe during an evening or two you can face-time a friend, or give a neighbor a call. I think you’ll be smiling as much as I am when you do.