Letter Writing as Art

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The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.

A Proverb

And if that letter is a beautiful letter, well, you know what they say about beauty.  A thing of beauty is a joy forever.  I am a great fan of The Art of Letter Writing and it truly is an art.  The words we use,  their construction and style, our penmanship, the stationery, even the postage stamps that grace an envelope,  many elements combine to create an artful letter.

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There are those who enjoy letter writing but think little of its artful aspects.  I’m still happy to hear from these people, I really am, but to me the artistic quality of a letter increases its pleasure tenfold.

Art can be a type of therapy too.  After a busy day I find it very relaxing to pull out my water color pencils and design stationery for my letters.  Lately more and more of my pen friends are beginning to realize they’re not too old for art even if they never dabbled in it before.  Have you heard about the adult coloring books becoming very popular? Well, coloring in a book is nice, but it’s even more fun to design the creations you color.  These creations (no matter how simple) can have a purpose too – they can become your very personal, one-of-a-kind stationery.

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 I have a few of my own coloring books like this one, A field Guide to Wildflowers.  It’s filled with 146 wildflower designs along with  notes about each flower’s growing habits,

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but instead of coloring the pictures in the book I use these pictures as models which I sketch onto my writing papers.  Once the sketches are complete I then enjoy the coloring. It’s fun!  And in trying to draw a flower or any other thing I’m forced to really notice its detail  thereby appreciating that thing all the more.  

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Whether the flowers I draw and color grace an 8 by 10 piece of paper

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or a card which holds a letter inside,  it’s all pure fun  and very creative. This sort of thing just might be fun for you too.

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Of course there’s all sorts of things that can be drawn to grace letters.  Because I am a fan of afternoon tea almost as much as letters I’ll often draw tea cups on my stationery.  What are your favorite things?  Try drawing them.  Let them dress up your letters.

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Each Season offers so many ideas.  In Winter how about drawing evergreen trees and animal foot prints in the snow?

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But any simple artistic touch can jazz up a letter, even a stenciled “Happy Day”…. add a few polka dots and you have art.

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 But if drawing is just not your thing perhaps photography is.  Why not create greeting cards using your photographs.  My Dad grew up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of Groundhog Phil, the famous weather forecaster.  I know Phil well  so I like to make and send Groundhog Day cards to celebrate the occasion.  Groundhog Day is just around the corner too. (February 2nd)  Any picture is worth a thousand words after all so let pictures  jazz up your letters, especially if those pictures are meaningful to you or your letter friend.

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If you’re lucky you have lots of letter friends who write their letters using all sorts of artful details,

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letters that not only have a lot of interesting things to say, but that are visual treats for the eyes –  like this letter from my pen friend Joy.

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And sometimes a personal artful letter sent at a time of loss will  be just the thing to soothe a mourning soul.  Years back after my father died I received such a letter containing a verse that was very comforting to me.  It was a verse about after life. You see I had just been asking my father (now in heaven) questions about death never expecting any answer, but an answer did come.  The answer was scribbled on a little piece of paper which was tucked into the envelope of a letter I received later that day.  The words were so comforting to me I now share them with friends who’ve lost a loved one.  I write the words neatly with care  gracing  the paper with flowers and a heart.

And here’s that hopeful message.

“Death is nothing all.  I have only slipped away into the next room.  I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other that we still are.  Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.  Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.  Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.  Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.  Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.  Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.  Life means all that it ever meant.  It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.  Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?  I am waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.  All is well.”

Henry Scott Holland

(1847-1918)

Canon of Saint Paul’s Cathedral

A personal letter at any time shows that we care, but at times of sorrow that caring is especially important. I was impressed to see this message over the entry to the main post office in Washington D.C.

“Messenger of Sympathy and Love, Servant of Parted Friends”

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So write some letters.  Make them beautiful.  Make them artful.  Express  yourself. Share your joy.  Comfort the depressed and downtrodden.   Delight yourself and others with your creativity.  Letter writing is not only an art.  It can also be a ministry, an artful ministry.  Virginia Wolfe once said, “Life would split asunder without letters”  and Kate Spade said, “It’s uplifting to get a letter – – –  like an ‘ooh!’ in your mailbox”.

I say they’re right.

What do you say?

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12 thoughts on “Letter Writing as Art

  1. This article looks great and I look forward to reading it.

    I sent you a letter and would love to hear back from

    you when you have time. David Schneier

    ________________________________

  2. Hi Carol!! Such a nice blog…..alas, I have a lot to share….but guess I will have to wait until I can find some time in the day to write you a letter….so it will hopefully be this week, but maybe next week as the days race by so quickly I barely find time to comb my hair…..just wish I had a slower paced lifestyle and could act retired!! We’ll connect eventually! You are lucky Bill isn’t around all day and you can get a lot of Personal stuff done!! Many days I wish Fred was Still flying! Such is life!! Later, Mary

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Another great narrative, Carol Ann. Those of us who you kindly correspond with know very well of how you can take pen and paper and various decorative accoutrements and make us recipients of your great works of art. Later this month will be exactly one year when I received my first letter from you by your replying to my very innocuous listing in ‘The Letter Exchange’ magazine. I had no idea that I would learn of quite a special woman and picture in my mind the town of Hudson, Ohio as a place on the map that radiates much warmth and comfort through your prolific letter writing to many appreciative folks across this country.

  4. Greg, Thanks for your kind words. You flatter me so. You certainly are very generous with your compliments. I’m sure you do a wonderful job making everybody you know feel appreciated.

  5. You are quite welcome, Carol Ann, and, yes, I do try to make certain ones in my life feel appreciated. I think this is often a natural part of a person’s way of being in their “2nd half in life”. But I must say by the time stamp of your comment that you’re certainly an early riser to be up and around in the morning and on the computer by 6:43 a.m.!!!

  6. Greg, The world needs more people like you who go out of their way to show appreciation for others. Keep up the good work. And I’m usually up before 6:a.m. Lots to do you know.

  7. Yes, Carol Ann, I’ve heard of those rumor of “Lots to do you know,” but when that thought crosses my mind at 6 a.m., I just roll over and go back to sleep. I tell others that while they’re sleeping during “normal people’s” sleeping hours, I keep vigil over the world during the wee hours of the morning.

    And, it is time to rejoice as Spring is almost here!

  8. Thanks for the nice comment. I wonder if you wrote a nice letter inside that beautiful card you made for your father’s 95th birthday. (Yes, I visited your blog too. Very nice.) Art is special and letters are special, but art and letters together are even more special.

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