5 Good Reasons to Paint Your Own Postcards

By Charlene Brown in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

Have you ever been on a trip where the scenery was so incredible you just HAD to share it with your friends and family back home? You can always buy postcards showing where you’re at, of course, but why not paint them yourself?

The supplies aren’t even hard to come by. Most art supply shops carry packages of 15 to 20 stiff, postcard-sized, watercolour papers that are pre-printed with address lines.

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I recommend taking only one or two brushes and a very limited palette of five or six colours, plus a pencil, a couple of pens, and maybe some fluorescent markers— they’re great for man-made objects and back-lit flowers!

Now here are five reasons why I think painting your own postcards is a good idea:

1. The best reason to paint your own postcards is that painted postcards are more personal. You can tailor the content, and even the colours you use, to the recipient.

When I painted Mt. Kirinyaga, there were all sorts of brilliant possibilities—flame trees, poinsettias, canna lilies—that I could have used to contrast with the desolate moorlands surrounding the extinct volcano.

I selected the purple and orange canna lily foreground for my daughter’s card because those were her high school colours.

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(Months later, she gently reminded me that the school colours had been changed to navy blue and orange because purple and orange together were just too awful).

2. With every recipient, you can also adjust your painting technique or even experiment with new styles based on where you’re at.

For example, in this semi-abstract, partly accidental composition of ‘Mountains of Guilin’ I even used a red signature ‘chop’ (stamp) purchased in Xi’an that has my name in Chinese symbols carved into it.

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This type of experimental postcard isn’t suitable for just anybody, but some will love it.

3. Another reason to paint your own postcards is that many really spectacular places don’t have a good selection of postcards available. Slovenia, which used to be part of Yugoslavia, is a good case in point.

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The postcard above was painted in Triglav National Park, a place that hasn’t yet gotten used to the influx of visitors from Western Europe.

4. You might also want to paint a postcard or two if everything that’s available is the wrong season—perhaps you’re there in the fall, but all the cards on the stands feature cherry blossoms.

And although storm clouds and wind-whipped water are wonderful picture material, I’ve found that they are seldom available in postcard form.

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5. Finally, you can do some very unique things with postcards, like painting a panoramic landscape on a diptych and sending half to each of two friends—of course they’ll have to get together for the full effect.

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The idea of painting a diptych came to me when I realized that a wider than usual format was pretty much required if I wanted to capture everything in a painting of the Standing Stones of Ballymeanoch.

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I needed even more room for the magnificent view of Lake Como and the Alps shown above . . so I painted a triptych on three separate postcards.

If these cards look like fun, they were—and I hope I’ve talked you into giving postcard painting a try the next time you find yourself in a wonderfully paintable place.

Be warned, however, once you’ve sent people these special postcards, they WILL expect more every time you travel!

For more painted postcards from Charlene Brown, please visit her art blog.

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