Wordless Letters

J Paskchis wordless letter

This post is about my correspondence with Julie Paschkis while I was in London. Apparently, February is International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo), so this will be especially appropriate.

After I had gotten myself settled in and had recovered from the initial shock of moving to another country, I still felt a bit untethered. Printmaking, my artistic comfort zone, had begun to feel tedious and boring, so I intentionally left my printmaking presses behind in Seattle. Now I had a new environment to explore and no reason not to experiment and be inspired.

But sometimes, having so many options becomes overwhelming. Where to start?

I told Julie how I was feeling. She said that when she isn’t sure where to start creatively, she finds it helpful to make something with someone particular in mind, as if she is making a gift for them. I liked that idea. Julie suggested we both send each other a “wordless letter” every week.

This turned out to be a wonderful solution, in so many ways. I found the challenge of describing what I was doing and expressing what I was feeling, without words, to be a very productive means to mine my experiences.

Julie and I have been friends for nearly thirty years. She knows my art. She knows my insecurities and foibles. She is my dear friend. I knew that whatever I sent her would be received openly and without judgement. That was important to me at a time when I was trying new things that I wasn’t necessarily good at. Some weeks I felt more inspired than others. Some weeks I had less time than others. It was all okay.

The practice kept me being creative, even when distractions and excuses not to stay in my workspace were everywhere, and it disciplined me to do so on a regular basis. During the week, I would keep my eyes open for bits and bobs of ephemera to use in my next missive. Often, what I would make for Julie would lead me to create other pieces in a similar vein.

It also kept me in touch with Julie in a different way than texts or FaceTime or even written letters would have done. It was like a conversation of imagery.

All that, and the joy of receiving something in kind every week. A letter is a gift. We don’t get or give them often enough.

These letters are some of my most treasured relics from my two years in London. All in all, I have nearly fifty wordless letters from Julie. The envelopes were also works of art. I have picked some of my favorites to show you here.

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letterJulie sent me this after I told her about a missing teapot from my parents’ home.

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letterArrows were a common theme for me. Julie responded in kind.

J Paschkis - wordless letterJulie and I exchanged squiggles at one point, and then colored them in and sent them back.

J Paschkis - wordless letterSome of the letters were 3-D.

J Paschkis - wordless letterOthers had movable parts!

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letterRose colored glasses to induce optimism.

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letter

J Paschkis - wordless letterThis was a Thank You note from Julie after she and her husband Joe visited us and we took a trip to Amsterdam.

J Paschkis - wordless letterJulie sent me this after I met her in New York for a visit.

J Paschkis - wordless letter A letter for a new year.

J Paschkis - wordless letterAnd this was one of the last letters Julie sent me. It is me, returning to Seattle (the handle on the suitcase goes up and down and the flaps open).

Next week, Julie will share her side of our exchange.

19 responses to “Wordless Letters

  1. I completely & totally LOVE these and absolutely & fervently think you two should make this into a book.

  2. And each one worth way more than 1,000 words. Simply delightful and inspiring.

  3. These are fabulous. I’ve been wanting to see good art for several weeks now, and here it is on line, by friends. Thank you.

  4. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia

    What a rich and fruity friendship you two must have! I can see Julie was amusing herself as well as you, the lucky recipient! This is the polar opposite of the bland emailed greeting card, which requires no more effort than the click of a mouse to send flying through cyber space. It is a digital and dead thing, with a serious charm deficiency – designed for people who are too stingy to buy stamps!
    I bet your postman in London must have smiled at these lavishly illustrated envelopes, as he dropped the letters in your mailbox!
    Julie’s charming work – hand drawn and wordless – was singing a silent song to you. Reminds me of what Picasso said – “To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.” Bliss!

  5. Wow — brilliant idea and what treasures. I agree these and yours should be made into a book :)!

  6. These are wonderful! What joy to make and open. Can’t wait to see yours, Margaret.

  7. This has got to be one of my favorite BATT posts ever. What a wonderful project – and wonderful friendship!

  8. They are treasures indeed, mail evidence of your treasured friend. I loved looking and looking, imagining what joy they brought you.

  9. this is my favorite post ever. what a testement to freindship and creativity. i wish they could be hung as an art show. mmmm. mmmmm mmmmm.

  10. What treasures to art and friendship.

  11. These are so lovely — they invite me to linger and ponder. Thank you SO much for sharing them — I am still smiling!

  12. Such a labor of love between two creative friends. Made me want to go upstairs to my workroom and make art for a far away friend right away! A book is a great idea!

  13. How delightful! Reminds me a bit of the Griffin and Sabine books.

  14. Margaret and Julie, you need a little menu of wordless comments for this blog that denote wonder and laughter and tears and all the rest of the feelings that these delicious post cards evoked. I agree with Julie Colando–there’s a book here. The perfect antidote to Trump-flu.

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