A Life of Color
One of the things that has influenced my art and jewelry profoundly is my life in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I lived there for more than 20 years and raised my girls there, created community and life long friendships and still go back as often as I can. I recently was working on some new art and got inspired by old Vintage Travel Prints from far locations in a graphic style. I picked a Caribbean Color Palette and started creating my own set of art based on my favorite country.
Turks and Caicos is made up of 8 main islands and 22 smaller ones divided in two groups. The Turks Islands are on the east side of the Turks Islands Passage and the Caicos Islands are on the west side.
My home is located on Providenciales, the most populated of the islands and where the main airport is located. It's home to some of the worlds best beaches and resorts. Grace Bay Beach was the first piece I created which is consistently named one of the Top Vacation spots in the world. I added a Sailboat as I have spent a lot of time on boats in the crystal clear blue water and the local sailing center where my oldest learned to sail is located right on Grace Bay
I also needed to include in my "home beach", Long Bay, on the south side of Providenciales. It's a wonderful Kite boarding beach with steady on shore winds and Shallow water for miles (less than 10 feet deep). There is also a great company that does horseback riding in Long Bay taking the horses into the water. I decided to add some Kite boarders representing Long Bay because we always see the tops of the kites driving home on the ridge.
Next up is North Caicos. North is quiet and full of places to explore inland and deserted beaches. Its definitely worth the ferry ride from Providenciales to explore North and Middle Caicos. Flamingo Pond is located on north and it's always a wonder to see the flocks of Flamingos (which is called a Flamboyance) on the Pond. Flamingos can be found throughout all of the islands and seeing them in flight is a delight.
Driving across the Causeway to Middle Caicos and head to Mudjin Harbor or Bambarra Beach or the Caves. Mudjin Harbor has majestic views and scenery and usually you are the only one around. Crab Fest happens on Bambarra Beach each year and these little land crabs are found throughout.
Next up is South Caicos AKA the Big South which is a quick flight from Provo. This quaint island is home to many sweet donkeys roaming around and has spectacular fishing and diving. A number of boutique hotels have opened recently giving people options to get away from it all. South Caicos is also where Historic regattas of big sailing sloops happened. So I had to include one of the big sloops with it's huge sail!
Over to the Turks Islands, this one is of the historic lighthouse on Grand Turk. Cockburn Town on Grand Turk is the capitol of the country and has a long history which can be explored at the Turks and Caicos National Museum! There is a lot of great diving and history on Grand Turk and it's just a short flight from Provo or a stop from a cruise ship.
Grand Turk and Salt Cay are right next to the Turks Island passage and this is where Humpback Whales migrate South to the Silver Banks to Calf in the Winter. They then head back in Late winter and from January- March you can go on whale watching tours, or even spot them from shore. All of the islands will have whale sightings every year as the Humpbacks all take different routes but Grand Turk and Salt Cay have dedicated whale watching opportunities. This Print is based on an Underwater Photo taken 20+ years ago on a dive where humpback whales popped by to say hello.
The final print in this series is Historical Salt Cay and its' windmills and salt ponds. Salt Cay is the smallest of the main inhabited islands with a small population of around 100 people. Grand Turk and Salt Cay were colonised in the late 1600's as an alternative to Bermuda for Salt production. For more than 250 years Salt was a main component of the economy of The Turks and Caicos. Salt Cay is known for it's quiet life, and great diving.
So there is the collection, It brings me a lot of joy and color and all of these prints can coordinate with each other. They're printed on archival 100% cotton paper with archival inks. Pick one or a few of your favorites!
How to send Care without the Package
Two years ago, when my Oldest was packing to leave for University, I started googling about care package ideas. The internet revealed many ideas that were extensive AND expensive. As I was looking at lists, shopping carts, I started getting emails from a company that would send monthly care packages and add a message from you for a (not small) fee. I stopped and thought about WHY I wanted to send a care package.
I knew I wanted to stay connected with my oldest in this next phase of her life. I didn't want to go overboard, over the top, or seem like I wasn't letting go. I was so excited for her and knew she would be busy and I just wanted to do something a little bit more than a text with an emoji. I mentioned care packages to Grace and she actually said "I don't have a lot of room and I don't need a lot of treats and I can only use so many face masks and that feels over the top really"
I realized the Connection is more important than the package
I found the answer from my past
My Grandmother Elvira was an amazing artist and she hand painted/drew every card I received She did that for every member of the family, and I still have a box of those cards which I cherish. My mom would write simple notes to me when I was at college, sometimes on the back of envelopes of junk mail just to say "Hi" It let me know she was thinking of me without me feeling obligated to write back.
some of my many many cards from my Grandma
And there was my Uncle Marshall who loved travel and was a postman. He always sent postcards. When our family traveled together he would search for postcards with my girls and they would find post offices to mail them to friends. My Uncle would also hand paint cards for the holidays Both of my girls had loads of his postcards on the walls of their rooms and when we traveled, buying postcards to remember the trip and to send to him became a tradition. As I saw Grace packing her postcard collection to put up in her dorm, an idea came together...
Postcards for Grace
I don't like writing like my mom, but I love to paint and I had some watercolor postcards, so I set the intention of sending one postcard a week to Grace. I also have a huge Pinterest board of just quotes I love (you can check it out here), so I would add a quote on the back and one to two sentences along with it. That is how #postcardsforgrace started. I left the first one in an envelope in her dorm room desk drawer while we unpacked and I send one every week she is away. At Christmas her first year she sent me this photo.
When she moved into her apartment her Sophomore year, she decorated her wall with her travel and art postcards and her favorite ones from me, leaving room to add as I send them. Some are funny, some are cute, some have deep quotes but they all mean something to me that I am sharing with her. She bought a box for the ones she doesn't hang up, they don't take up much space and for the cost of a stamp it's the cheapest thing for university I pay!
When I told Grace I was writing a blog post, she smiled as it's something that is between the two of us, but she can share with others as well. I remember a silly song when I was younger that had the line "It's the thought that counts, so give it instead, thoughts don't have to be wrapped at all" I think that's why I enjoy doing this: it's a thought about my daughter that's tangible, not on a device, that she can hold and know.
"Live the Life you Love, Love the life you Live" Bob Marley
Here are some ideas if you want to give it a go:
These are "rough" guidelines for my postcards: figure out what works for you
1. I leave one in the dorm when we drop her off and I send one to arrive every week while she's away.
The card that started it all
2. The painting/drawing doesn't have to be perfect, in fact we've gotten some laughs about a few that are quite bad. (if the art part of this stresses you out, I've listed some other ideas at the end of this)
My attempt to draw our dog and her favorite toy
3. I add a quote on the back, and a couple of sentences usually about something we've chatted about.
4. I always tell her that I love her because parents need to say that as much as we can.
5. I put it in an envelope to mail so it's just her reading it.
6. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT I don't expect her to call me or send some long thank you or commentary about it. I am sending it for me as much as her. She usually sends a snapchat of the envelope when she gets one and I will ask if she's checked mail to let her know one is on the way (we've had some delays and then she'll get 3 in a week)
That's it. It's not hard, it's not expensive, but for me it's giving her something tangible to hold and know I care.
Here are some ideas to start your own Postcard project:
1. You can paint/draw/doodle/use markers. Go abstract and make some colorful lines. Draw stick figures. If you have younger siblings at home have them give it a go. Have a pictionary contest and see if they can figure it out, make them laugh. Write a recipe, your favorite word of the week, Make a square or dot or squiggle and give it an art gallery title. The goal is to connect.
just paint some blobs, lines and circles with your favorite colors
I use Etchr Labs Cold press postcards (cold press is textured, hot press is smooth). You can get a box of 100 for under $40 which will last probably all 4 years. (not sponsored...I just love the quality and price)
If you want to try painting or sketching or drawing, head to YouTube for tutorials on everything (I also love Skillshare). If you want some ideas feel free to check out my Instagram hashtag #postcardsforgrace - I usually include a quote there as well (If you post yours, please tag me or the hashtag! I'd love to see them)
2. If you really don't want to draw then start collecting some postcards that connect you to your student. I have a friend who does a ton of traveling with their student's sport teams and I told her to start finding those quirky or weird spots in the towns they go to and buy some postcards while there. She'll then have them ready to go when college starts.
3. Does you kid love a tv show, movie, comic book...you can get postcards from all of those things with a quick internet search. Or print some things out and make a collage on a postcard.
4. If your student is into fashion, art, sports...you can find postcards at local museums, galleries or online. Do some vintage shopping at antique shops or even look for letterpress companies that do fun things.
5. If quotes are not authentic to you try some of these instead: Corny jokes, Puns, Favorite TV or Movie sayings, Favorite cartoon quotes, Jeopardy or trivia questions on the front and answers on the back. What do you want to tell your student about yourself to connect...
Because it's the thought that really counts!
"Connection is why we're here; It is what gives purpose and meaning to our Lives" -Brene Brown
Here are a few that I've sent over the past two years! the #postcardforgrace on IG shows all of them
After doing the watercolor and ink florals in February, I wanted to continue exploring pen and ink .
With Spring coming, I was ready for flowers and lots of color
I got out my gouache!
Gouache is an Opaque watercolor paint. With traditional watercolor, the paint is transparent allowing the paper or paint underneath to be seen. After drying, both will reactivate when water is added. Gouache can be transparent like watercolors with enough water added so it gives you a lot of flexibility!
Here is a quick comparison
Traditional watercolor is on the left, with Gouache on the right in similar colorways. The Gouache can be transparent like the watercolor but is much more vibrant and opaque in the top of the swatch at full strength.
I am really trying to take time this year to take classes and learning new things. While some are stand alone paid courses and others are quick online free tutorials, I am finding my Skillshare membership has the most value for money for art and tech courses. (And I have no affiliation with them).
Back in February, I saw Ohn Mar Win's course "Organic Expressive Florals with Watercolor and Ink" and put it in my queue. I love following her Instagram feed with fresh illustrations and unique sketchbooks while using all sorts mixed media. I received a Winsor & Newton Calligraphy set and a Phaidon Flower Color Guide for my Birthday in January; I was ready!