Year One with my muses.

In February, Lefty Smudges will be one year old.

It was just one year ago that I thought up that name, and under it, commissioned my first card. A lot has happened to me because of Lefty Smudges this year. A lot has changed for me too.

This past year I developed friendships with three painters (beautiful and talented each). I must tell you about them because I cannot keep writing without writing of them.

How has their friendship changed me? I think differently. Do you know what I mean. I think differently. I have met these men at such a malleable point in my life, the moulding of my mind now contains the possibility of them, and all that they stand for. Art, ideas, integrity, mischief; I met them, they inspired a shift in thought, Lefty Smudges was born. Simple as that. Lefty Smudges is my natural reaction to this world of art, ideas, integrity, and mischief. I’m in it now. There is no going back.

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These men, these artists, are my friends now. We cross paths walking down the street, at gallery openings, our studios, libraries, and in the cafes around town. The conversations are always lively. They are full. They are cathartic. They are encouragement. I feed off them, and they help sustain me. This must be the case for many young artists. Encouragement is key. Mentors are key. There is no other way to thrive.

Lefty Smudges started with one postcard, and one Valentine. This past year I have participated in : 2 festivals, and 2 art events; I have hosted 2 letter-writing workshops; I created, designed, and mailed out 8 card projects; I produced 1 commissioned mail-out.

All together, creating, writing, and mailing out over 200 cards.

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Every one of those cards, every project, every time I have touched pen to paper this year, has been influenced by what I learned from my painter friends:

You can create something beautiful in this world. You can connect people, question them, make them think, make them feel. You can think differently. You can go with your gut. You can follow that strange pull – if you have courage, it will lead you.

To my friends who sustain and inspire me, and believe in Lefty Smudges as much as I do – this past year wouldn’t have happened without you.

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Learning to give out Love.

As Morrie Schwartz once wrote, 

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.

I believe this to be true. (I also believe many other things on this same topic – of Love – but we’ll start with this one sentence).

Learning to give out love. I have been learning this lesson, on a conscience level, for some time now. I try to love everyone. I know, your probably rolling your eyes right now. Well stop. This lesson and the way I have learned to conduct my life due to learning it, makes me courageous. It makes me attractive. It makes the world come alive in the people before me – the struggle, the beauty, the human connection in it all.

Learning to give out Love is a risky business. It opens you up to the most naked form of vulnerability. It requires humility and sacrifice. Those aren’t words we use in our everyday lives, but there are people, everyday, who live lives of humble sacrifice. I try to love them; to think of them when I practice loving.

And now, I know this is a really big jump, but I love Valentine’s day because I have used it as an opportunity to let people in my life know that I love them. I have used Valentine’s day, and the tradition of sending Valentine’s cards as a means of expressing my love to all those that I can think of (and afford to buy stamps for). Family that are far far away, friends that don’t know I think of them as friends (and don’t have any others), lovers that have touched my heart though they may not have stayed in my life, neighbours that make the world that much more colourful and diverse, and my mother. I have sent them all cards of love.

Lefty Smudges’ very first project, the very first time I sent out cards on behalf of others, was for Valentine’s day. This project is very dear to my heart. This project is the one that I am most attached to. For years I have been practicing the art of correspondence and the act of Loving. Valentine’s day cards are the most beautiful cards I will ever make – it’s the Love that does it!

It is my pleasure, and my privilege, to share this year’s Lefty Smudges Valentine’s Day Mail Art Project with you. It is my hope that you will support this project by enabling me to send out ALL the cards to ALL those we love.

I will write again soon, and let you in on the details of the design, the materials, and what a day in my studio, working on these cards, looks like. So come back, and stay in touch.

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Lefty Smudges’ Valentine Card Mail Art Project 2014

An Introduction

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I have been exchanging letters and cards, notes and scraps of paper with poems written upon them, in the mail, with friends, for years. Since childhood. Since…I can remember the first time:
His name was Hughie O’Donnell. Hugh was a friend of my father; A teacher. I had stayed with Hugh and his wife Marguerite for a week when I was eight (my father, being a theatre arts teacher, and taking my mother with him, had gone to New York City with his students). I loved books, and Hugh loved words. It was a magical week in my life.
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After that week was over, Hugh began writing me letters that would be delivered to my grade three class through the school board postal system. Hugh, having MS, no longer had the use of his hands, so these letters were written by a computer that he would speak into. Every letter was accompanied by a book.
It doesn’t matter the circumstance, if you are eight years old, and you have an adult in your life who cares enough about you to write you, and send you books to spark your imagination, it is going to have a lasting, positive effect. Hughie O’Donnell was that adult in my life.
Now, years later, both Hughie and my father have passed away.
Now, years later, I have envelopes upon envelopes stuffed full of letters from friends.
Written correspondence, between my friends and I, has been a most inspiring and innovative Catch-22 in life. I write them, they write me back! They write me, and I return the exchange! My pen pals and I have exchanged secrets and dreams. We have sent post-it notes, Betty Boop sunglasses, and packets of tea. We have written movie scenes, haikus, and pages and pages of questions – answered and left untouched. We have written each other while laying on beaches and sitting in european cafes; we have used typewriters, computers, crayons, and pens to scribble words and pictures, diagrams and love notes.
And so it is, with this history of love and loss, writing and friendship, that I begin Lefty Smudges. It is with years of experience, and armed with tangible, physical evidence of the power of correspondence that I deign to create cards, notes and packages that will keep the art of correspondence alive.
Lefty Smudges will be that friend who always writes. Lefty Smudges will be that friend who always sends the best cards, and the most exciting packages. Lefty Smudges will remember every occasion, and celebrate every moment of Joy. Lefty Smudges will. It will be my pleasure.
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So, have I given you enough information to start a conversation? Have I revealed enough of my artistic aesthetic to incite your curiosity? I do hope so.
This is gonna be good.