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Envelope Paintings

OCTOBER 14, 2007
a collage from March 13, 1993
In 1992, after admiring a painting by Friedensreich Hundertwasser done on a folded out envelope, I started a similar project. For the next year, I set aside an hour or two early in the morning to make a completed painting on the inside of an envelope. I subsequently folded and sealed up the paper and mailed them to my wife Stephanie. It was fun to surprise her and she looked forward to getting them. I didn't include any text really, just a date, a title perhaps, and a signature. The goal was to come up with an finished image that I could live with in a set amount of time. I used all kinds of media: ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, collage, stencil and they were done on all sorts of paper. For a while, I was preparing paper beforehand and cutting out the envelope shapes from templates.
June 30, 1993
Early on, the images are affectionate, whimsical and painfully cute. Later, I hit my stride by incorporating a more confident approach to painting. Letting concepts emerge during the painting processes made for more interesting abstract work which later, tapped my need for consistent types of imagery. After about 200 paintings, the process ran its course and by late 1993, the envelope paintings got increasingly ornate and labored. They had stopped surprising me. Periodically, I'd do another one but the fire was not self-sustaining.

In any event, I can't recommend this type of exercise highly enough for any visual artist. It forces one to work through roadblocks and see limitations as a potentially powerful creative asset. Now, I channel a similar energy into and get similar delight from my sketchbooks.
Is it Art? Is it Illustration? Who knows. Is it necessary? Absolutely!
painting from July 17, 1993
Topical: work