On the Creative Journey and Unexpected Detours


Running an artistic ecard business, like Ojolie, requires a lot of fresh ideas for new card designs. Even though it is a constant process of looking for inspiration, at the start of every year, I begin the planning process for what new cards are going to be released and when. This year a little accident gave me longer to ponder and plan in my head though: I sprained my right hand - the one I paint and work with - and for two weeks have not been able to even write my own name. Luckily, the hand is finally healing quite well and I feel blessed to even just be able to type this.

An accident like this is often a blessing in disguise, reminding us of all there is to be grateful, giving us renewed energy when we can return to work and our creative pursuits and most importantly giving us a mandatory break. That said, I am a terribly impatient person in these situations and just before it happened, I had completed my early spring cleaning of the studio, grounded four canvases in preparation for an upcoming exhibition I am working on. They now sit and smile at me. The dust has settled in the studio, but that will soon change.

In the meantime I thought I would share a little bit about the creative journey with you. Like most artists, I collect a myriad of materials from diverse channels to draw inspiration from.


"Tree of Life" by Frederikke Tu, 200x140cm, Sold, see more at www.frederikketu.com


Observations from my daily personal life, things that I’m fond of, personal hobbies, a memory, something a friend told me, the list goes on and on. I like to experience and watch nature to capture the essence of life and use this energy to spark ideas.

All these activities help generate ideas. As the concepts reveal themselves, I create document lists and pin boards on Pinterest as future referral sources. Then I ask myself, “From all of this, what is useable?” What are my customers looking for to suit their occasion? The concepts have to be relevant, useful and appeal to a wide audience. My process begins as divergent then moves towards convergence.


Once I decide on an idea, I start to visualize the card and animation. Sometimes that is influenced by a piece of music I would like to work with, where the melody ignites images in my mind. Other times, I see the final image and work backwards to the start filling in the gaps, or vice versa.

I consider the style, medium and pace to match the concept and take it from there.  This process is useful both in my work on the ecards and in my other work as an artist. The discipline and process helps me get past any blockages, knowing that inspiration and creativity is just a question of getting to work, moving past the blocks and accepting that with time you will get into flow, and what may appear like magic to others, is just another day of work for the artist. Which I am waiting, impatiently, to return to soon as possible.

If you would like to see more of my recent work on canvas, you can see some of my acrylic and oil paintings at www.frederikketu.com

2016 is around the corner!

The joy of creating 

Is it that time already? Time seems to be flying by and before you blink the New Year is upon us.
This usually means reflecting on the year that was and setting your intentions for the year ahead.

The pressure is on to devise your New Year resolutions; lose weight, exercise more, spend less, save more, work less, work more, give up smoking, coffee, sugar etc.

However I wanted to propose a different idea from the common traditional clich├ęs with this new ecard.  A resolution about committing to the idea of getting more out of life. By this I mean giving yourself permission to take the time to do whatever it is you enjoy. 
This is not always so easy in today's world, where we live in a landscape that forces us to stay busy, future-oriented and stressed. Sometimes we just need to build in more moments to breathe. Take in the present and become mindful of the simple pleasures that we are in contact with every day if we allow ourselves to become more conscious of them. 

When we created this business 10 years ago, our intention was generate an income and lifestyle that would allow us to spend more quality time together as a family, focus less on material things, and allow us the freedom to invent whilst enjoying the process along the way.
Hence, the creation of Ode to Life ecard.
View the card

More hugs, naps, road trips, fun and moments of joy, love and celebration. More laughter, dreaming, creating and sipping on hot cocoa. 
Taking the time to view more sunsets, smell the scents of fresh flowers, breathe in the zest of life! 

Life is for living.  
We are working so we can live, not living just to work.
Every moment is a gift!


2016 is the year for dancing!

This card is a compilation of the various animation styles of our favourite designs. Each vignette is intended to make you smile.

These are some of our resolutions for the coming year.
What are yours? What will bring more enjoyment into your life?

There is no better time than the present to set your intentions to invite more bliss into your world and enhance your well-being with the choices conscious you make. 

Come join with us in the commitment to make the most of your daily life by building in more momentary simple pleasures. 



Taking time out just for you





Sparkling New Year

Hand lettered words appear in gold foil
I have celebrated the New Year with family and friends in Asia a few times now. What has delighted me most, given the time differences, is that as I watch and enjoy as the celebrations, they continued around the world after starting in Asia. It is like experiencing one never ending party! The good vibes keep on generating and it has made me realize that this is the one global celebration, where we really are a big global family.




The motif I chose to inform the final card for 2015 features iconic landmarks of the world. There are 21 famous landmarks in this card.
If you feel up to challenging yourself, you can try to see how many can you name and locate.  See the card now.

This ecard encompasses New Year celebrations from around the globe complete with a fan fair of fireworks, confetti and radiating light animations choreographed to the countdown, amidst a night sky. 

The style is a modern, graphic design, featuring hand lettered words - "celebrate, sparkle, shine and cheers" - and details in gold foil. 

The colour palate is classic; black, gold and white. Like effervescent golden bubbles of champagne, sipped upon at a stylish black tie event on New Years Eve. 

I hope that where ever you are celebrating the dawning of 2016, it is filled with sparkle and shine.


Iridescent fireworks explode around classic icons



12 days of Christmas in a Paper Wonderland

Most people are familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". To most it's a delightful nonsensical rhyme set to music. As I recently discovered, it is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.


12 Days of Christmas Paper Cut Motifs

To give you a brief background on the history, Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law - private or public. It was a crime to be a Catholic.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith and used as a memory aid.

Today, this famous song was chosen to partner with our very popular ecard of the same name; the 12 days of Christmas paper cut card.

As an artist it is only natural that I draw inspiration from my own Danish heritage in my work.  In Denmark it is common to cut and display paper cuttings in windows all year round, but especially during Christmas.   They are also used to hang on Christmas and garden trees across all seasons in the form of paper hearts or stars. 

Common Christmas designs include sleighs and reindeer, flora and fauna, nativity scenes, villages etc. Contemporary designs modern silhouettes, cityscapes and famous sayings. 

And what better idea than to bring this famously silly series of gifts from the carol to life than in 12 ornaments in a paper cutting window scene.

 
To begin, I created paper cut motifs following the lyrics of the song. Each motif starts its life as a hand-drawn sketch and then is scanned and rendered on to the computer as a vector illustration.  The digitalized images then come to life in frame-by-frame animations. Turtle doves flutter, ballerinas twirl, swans glide and pipers play their flutes in celebration of the festive season.
Rather than being a static two dimensional setting, I designed the ecard to have visual depth and dimension.  To achieve this I placed the paper cutting within a window and adding a snowy background, adding contextual depth and dimension, resulting in a dynamic moving picture.







Paper Cutting or “Scherrenschnitte” Traditions

This is the first of a series of blog posts on the tradition of paper cutting, a folkloric practice close to my heart and my art!

Scherrenschnitte which literally means scissor cuts in German, is the traditional art of paper cutting. Using scissors or a knife, a silhouette of the image or scene is cut from paper in a delicate and intricate process requiring immense skill and meticulous attention to detail.

Although this craft has been practiced in Northern Europe, its roots stem back to China around 750 A.D.


A gaekkebrev hand cut by Hans Christian Anderson

Paper cutting is not a dying art, and instead it has undergone a renaissance and is growing in popularity. Its appeal lies in using such a simple material such as paper, its versatility and serving as a wonderful medium for storytelling.
In fact the renowned Hans Christian Andersen created some very famous free hand cut designs that really celebrated his storytelling. Using a folding technique, the author cut intricate designs with scissors as a form of therapy and relaxation.

The Danes are famous for their paper cutting. Gaekkebrev translated to mean secret snowdrop letter is a well-celebrated Danish tradition that is practiced around Easter time as the snow is lifting. It’s a little game where you pick a snowdrop flower, attach its delicate white buds to the paper cut design you have been snipping away at.


Example of a traditional gaekkebrev paper cutting

The idea is to write a poem or verse, disguising your handwriting and give the paper cutting to someone. The recipient’s job is to guess who it’s from.  If they guess correctly, then you have to give them an Easter egg. You can sign your name in dots; one dot for each letter of your name. This game can also be used on Valentine ’s Day for a bit of fun.

I have drawn inspiration from my Danish roots to create a new Christmas ecard medium bringing paper cutting to life in a digital format.
After hand drawing motifs, they are scanned and brought to life by converting them to Vector illustrations and digitalized.

This ecard was inspired by the imaginary stories I would play out in my mind as a child. I created a heavenly white village scene with paper cut flora and fauna animations fluttering and transforming before your eyes.


Paper cut snowflake shavings falling  

In an nostalgic moment, I recalled playing outside in the garden as a child as fresh snow fell, climbing under branches and watching the snowflakes gently fall to the ground like pieces of paper cuttings.  I would imagine make-believe worlds amidst a winter wonderland, only to return to the warmth of my family home hours later with red cheeks and numb fingers. I would spend hours transfixed on the delicate snow gently falling outside. 

Due to global warming, snowfall is becoming rarer before Christmas in my native country Denmark. As I started working on this ecard, my friends and family back in Denmark sent me photos of the very unusual first snow in November this year which delighted and inspired me - making the process of the card’s creation even more enjoyable.


Flora and fauna layered against a winter village backdrop

Set within a village scene transforming from day to night, the story begins with a fanciful paper snowflake being cut, dropping its paper shavings to a buoyant orchestral tune called A Whimsical Story by composer David G Steele. 

On closer look, we find deer, a fox, a rare and a variety of song birds, partridges and doves frolicking about a wondrous winter playground amidst vines and flowers inspired by traditional Polish paper cutting designs. 



The sequence ends with room to add your own Christmas message

This ecard is intended to be elevating and full of Christmas cheer. 

View the Christmas Paper Story e-card


Who’s been naughty AND nice?


This year I wanted to develop a theme inspired by our pets as they are so much part of our families, as our human children are. For this new Christmas ecard, the idea was to inject a bit of fun into the festive season using three little mischievous kittens.

Digital kitten engaging with scanned images of water coloured objects forming a rich background

Anyone who has observed cats and boxes (or even young children and boxes), will have seen how they are always more interested in the box itself, rather than what is inside.  They like to try to find any way possible to get inside a box, no matter how small or impossible it may seem. There are tons of You Tube videos that play testament to that.

This card is a series of vignettes of three little playful kittens getting into the Christmas presents which kind of represents the suspense that we all feel when we see the boxes under the Christmas tree. They create a bit of mayhem as only cheeky furry creatures can, before finding a perfect cozy spot in a box to snuggle and settle in for Christmas.  I think this embodies the idea of getting warm and comfy for the holiday season.

The formation of the card involves different elements, using hand painted objects and animated digital characters.  After developing the idea for this card, the basic tale is story-boarded. 

Next, the elements making up the scene, such as the wrapped presents, boxes and a Christmas tree, had to be sketched, painted in water colours then scanned into the computer via Photoshop. The result is a more illustrated feel and look to the overall card.

Hand painted water colour stuffed elephant toy prior to being scanned 

The cheeky kittens were rendered and animated using Adobe Flash, but key frames are usually hand sketched first like traditional animation, so you have more control over plotting the movements of your characters. The sweet kittens stalk, pounce, climb and jump amongst a flurry of gifts and boxes in a delightfully natural manner. We wanted to capture the naturally curious nature of these playful cats. 


Check out the finished product:  www.ojolie.com/index.php?ec_id=208

Can you relate to this ecard?


I would love you to share your experiences here about how your pets also enjoy Christmas. 
Please feel free to post any pics you have of your furry creatures getting into the Christmas spirit and let’s enjoy the inquisitive nature of our darling pets.



Illuminate the World with Peace

I developed two new cards as a response to all the turmoil going on around the world. We wanted to remind people that despite all the chaos, we can choose to focus on positivity and resonate this intention out to all those around us.

Reflecting on the idea of light as a symbol of hope and enlightenment, I decided to combine both the modern concept of lights through illuminated light bulbs, but with a slightly retro touch for a hip graphic designed style.

Ojolie "Illuminate the World" animated e-card for the holidays 


The result is our newest e-card, "Illuminate the World", set against a starry evening sky, with light bulbs illuminated with the words: Peace, Hope and Joy, coming to life to shine brightly with Christmas greetings. 

The world needs a big injection of these three elements right now. 

The idea for our new Peace Ribbon e-card came from a trip to the store to buy some simple ribbon for presents.  The news from that day was still going through my mind - another day of senseless violence and unrest.  As I sat fiddling with the ribbon between my hands on the ride home I could see the word peace forming.  It was only when I arrived home, I realized I had the first sparks of a card in the making.
I chose  white doves for this e-card as they are a classic symbol of peace and a candy cane white and red striped ribbon to inject some uplifting holiday spirit.  There is nothing solemn or mellow about this card. The animated doves dance and fly about to an upbeat tempo whilst holding red ribbons in their beaks, to spell out the word “Peace” against the backdrop of an earth globe.

Wishing you peace and joy - and that these e-cards bring smiles to the faces and the hearts of your loved ones all around the world.   


A little bird told me ... You are dying to know how it came to life!


Ever curious how a character in Ojolie ecards comes to life - from storyboard to digital canvas?

A very important step that might not seem immediately obvious is actually developing a palette for the card. This is not something I have always done, but with time I have found that this makes the process of developing a cohesive looking card much easier. Plus its actually quite relaxing and fun, not to mention a great way to remember how you mixed a certain favorite color.

 A bright watercolor palette for Autumn












The characters are developed via a set of quick sketches, which allows you to rework them until they are just right. For this card, somewhat unusual, the characters just seemed to flow pretty clearly onto the paper and Even though I only needed a few birds, I had to paint them in a variety of poses to be able to bring them to life as animations. This was the most difficult part and adding a design and details doesn't make it any easier ... but then the characters insisted this was how it had to be.


Character Sketches and illustrations of the little birds




For the little owl, layering was as always my friend, starting with the lighter colors and gradually building up the details and dark shades in the feathers. For all our feathered friends, having a clear palette and sticking to a mix of a few complimentary colors really makes it much easier to get a nice pleasant looking character, even when the coloring of the feathers is a figment of your imagination.



Fluffy little owl

After scanning the paintings and cleaning up the backgrounds on the computer, there are a few other little secrets to bringing them alive, but maybe I will share that another time.

Happy Autumn and Thanksgiving!


Painting with Fresh Roses

The most amazing smell of roses filled my little studio today, as I was 'painting' with roses.  Gently prying them apart or manipulating them into an arrangement for the newest card I am working on for Mother's Day.


After weeks of working late into the night at my easel, painting on canvas, it was incredibly rewarding to work with this new medium.  


A slightly wilting rose is beautiful in a way that is hard to explain - there is an instant patina and texture, it reminds you how fleeting the delicate petals are, yet this is when we finally get to see the hidden beauty at the core.  I wanted to capture this in the arrangement of the petals and buds in the shape of a heart, not the cliche Valentine arrangement in usually brings to mind, but something slightly more ephemeral and imperfectly perfect.  If that makes sense :)


I must confess I cannot say that 'no roses where hurt in the process of making this card', but there were some lucky survivors that made it into a vase after the shoot.  I collected a nice big bag of petals now waiting in my fridge to be dried using a new method I am going to try in the microwave - later to be used in a painting, which I will post if/when it works out.


Going over the photos from the shoot this evening I was quite pleased with the results.  On to turning all of this into a story with animation ...


Follow up Sneak Peak: Character Paintings

It may seem like a long time from sketch to paint, but in between I have been working on a million other things ... okay, not a million, but quite a few.  It is the irony of my line of work that we have to think in snowflakes in the middle of summer, but planning is everything.  I think about Christmas all year long and by Christmas I will be planning spring and summer ecards ...

But I finally got around to painting the characters for the Thanksgiving card and I promised to share an update when I did, so you can see the whole process.

I first paint the leaves and start some slight shading of the squirrel


As you can see, for these I wanted to keep a simple watercolor style, nothing too detailed, to give the card illustration style a relaxed and casual feeling.  I therefore limited my usual layering of primary colors to a minimum and instead just worked with colors premixed on the palette.  Quite relaxing for a change and fast!

Working in some shading and details before the final color washes are applied helps make the character pop

And voila - the first character is done.  You will have to wait until the card is released the see the rest :)

Since then, they have been scanned, cleaned up (white background removed) and are now ready to be used in animation.


I also painted a LOT of fall leaves and nuts and the centerpiece, an imaginary tree, that sprouts the leaves of a variety of trees.  If it sounds a bit strange, you will see that it works quite well visually, making for a nice bouquet of a tree.

I love Fall - can you tell?


On to key frame sketches for our little squirrel ...

Of Flowers and Georgia O'Keeffe

One of the dearest people in my life is my sister.

I painted this painting for her while I was in Denmark - in fact it came together very spontaneously and fluidly a summer afternoon on the grass in the garden.  When I showed up to her place with it I pretended I just wanted to store it there while traveling to Norway, which gave me an opportunity to see her reaction to the painting before giving it to her.  If she did not seem particularly moved I would have not given it to her, because I wanted her to really love it.  Well, her reaction was better than hoped and I could tell she really liked it even before she knew it was for her.  Needless to say my mission to make it an early birthday present for her was accomplished.

"Ode to O'Keeffe", Acrylic on Canvass, 80x80cm


This painting was inspired by my love of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers, hence it is titled "Ode to O'Keeffe", although in many ways it is nothing like the paintings O'Keeffe painted.  For one, most of her flowers really do bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain part of the female anatomy.

Detail of "Ode to O'Keeffe"


When painting with super strong colors, especially reds and pinks, on a larger canvass it is easy get worried mid process that the end result is going to be a too bold or (shock) even crass and tacky.  You have to push past that and allow it to play out, because somehow by the time you put the final details in place things start to finally make sense.  It is hard to explain, but this is where experience and having faith in the artistic vision help - and worst case if the end result is still horrible you chuck it up to experience and the need to experiment.  This is exactly what happened with this painting - while I was working on it I was getting a bit worried about the huge areas of pink and red, but by the time I was painting the little pollen pods, it was all starting to gel quite well.

Texture is really important to me when painting, whether it is watercolor, acrylics or any other medium.  For some pieces you want that absolute smooth finish and perfect gradients, but for this piece it was important to add interest into the big areas of bold color by using texture.  If you have ever observed the surface of flower petals really closely, you will notice many are almost covered with surface of fine hair or powder.  When the light hits at a certain angle it shines and glistens ... it is really magical.


A Collection of Amazing Art Tutorials

Thanks to a lot of generous people there is a an amazing availability of art tutorials online.  These are a great way of getting your feet wet if you are new to art or a certain medium or simply looking to challenge yourself if you have some experience already.  Even as an experienced watercolor artist it is interesting to see how other artists work - everyone has a slightly personal way of doing things or has found a particular thing that works in addition to the fact that there are many ways to get good results.

Follow Frederikke Tu's board An amazing Collection of Art Tutorials on Pinterest.


While you can learn a lot from these tutorials, I do think there is no substitute for learning from others.  This is where taking a class or getting together with a few fellow creative souls will help you learn from each other.   But that said, I have learned most of what I know from books, experimentation and online tutorials.  This way I got a ton out of the few classes I have taken, because I already came prepared with the basics.


Sneak Peak: Character Development for Fall/Thanksgiving Card


Yesterday I started work on developing the characters for this year's Thanksgiving/Fall production.

The card will have quite a few characters, so this part of the design phase is especially important.  Some will be painted in watercolors, and separated into different body parts after scanning them into the computer.  This way I can keep the watercolor style but still animate the characters.  I have not yet decided whether the squirrel will be hand painted for each frame of animation, or whether I will  render it on the computer, since it will need a full range of motions when jumping.

The main character is the woodpecker, so I started when him first.  Once his character was in place I build the other characters up around him.  I will share more photos as I start painting the various elements of the card ...


Water Mixable Oil Colors

This summer I spend about ten days painting in the north of Denmark and trying a new medium for me, water mixable oil paints.  Since I normally paint with mostly watercolors and acrylics this was a real change in pace, as the longer drying times of oil presented a particular challenge while travelling.

But I must say I loved the richness, the vibrant colors of the pigments and the final result of the oil paints.  And being water mixable means there are no nasty fumes to put up with.  So after stocking up on four canvasses and paint in Copenhagen, I set off with my kids for the coast and the little cabin we would spend the next ten days in.

"Flights of Fancy"
Oil on Canvass
by Frederikke Tu

As luck would have it, this July was so hot in Denmark, it was almost unbearable to be outside some days, so I moved the garden furniture inside and made it my painting studio.  Luckily the cabin had lots of glass and it still felt like being outdoors.

Could you imagine a lovelier studio while on the road?  Happy memories ...


For the first painting I decided to forgo a grounding layer, which I normally would use with the acrylics, since there was a time constraint.  As you can see from the photos, the paint goes on nice and thin with the water mixable painting medium that is part of the range.  I have since bought a painting paste as well, which is more like the paints in thickness.

I did find that the key was not to use both water and painting medium together, or I would get some tackiness and the paint would not spread easily.  So you either use a little water or you use painting medium, but not both.  I also discovered that the white dries much slower than the other paints, so areas with more white needed more time in between coats.  As you can also see from the photos, the colors start looking really amazing after the second coat, so a second coat really is a must, especially without a grounding layer.

Painting the first coat - a little streaky, which second coat takes care of


I waited a few days between coats and in total this painting took three days to paint, much longer than a similar painting would have taken me with acrylics.  But I think the results are worth it and for many things this medium will still be my new favorite.  I still love acrylics, just for the sheer convenience and speed, but acrylics do lack something in the final feel and touch.  However they gel well with my temperament and allow me to work in my own impatient and frenzied pace.

If you would like to try water mixable oil colors yourself, there are several brands that offer them.  I choose Cobra from Talens.  But enough about the medium, I will let the painting speak for itself!  Let me know what you think.



Fathers Are Just as Important as Mothers

It is easy to forget Father's Day - it just does not get the same kind of attention that Mother's Day gets. I know this for a fact - and statistics support it.  I see it every year when far fewer cards are sent on Father's Day than Mother's Day. And I don't believe it is because we as a society do not value to amazing contribution that fathers make in the lives of their families.  I do not know why as a society we are less likely to celebrate fathers than mothers on their special day.  But I would love to hear from you: how do you celebrate the father figures in your life?  And Dads, how do you want to be celebrated?  You can comment here or send me a mail through the website at www.ojolie.com.  Got any special requests for Father's Day cards for next year?  Tell me now and I will give them full consideration.
Happy Fathers Day   2012
From toonpool.com
In the meantime, I am happy to share this touching video with you, just a reminder for us all in our busy daily lives to take a moment to really connect.  We don't need a special day to acknowledge the wonderful people in our lives, but sometimes these special days help remind us to do so.


Wishing You a Very Happy Father's Day this Sunday!

The Art of Manliness


I would love to create more ecards that appeal to men. I was therefore thrilled to find a blog dedicated the Art of Manliness with an entry dedicated to nothing less than the Art of Letter writing. Yeah! What a great find and follow up to my blog entry on The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing.

Great tips for you guys out there who might sometimes wrestle with getting pen to paper - or words to keyboard :) And as woman I can honestly say there is almost nothing more manly than a man who can express himself.  And with Father's Day coming up, son's everywhere might need a little inspiration for celebrating their father.

 The Art of Manliness
from The Art of Manliness blog

The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing

“In a generation or two letters will be obsolete. 
Everyone will talk to absent friends the world over by radio.
It will be nice; but something will be lost with letters. 
The world can’t eat its cake and have it, too. 
And none of these things really “save time.” 
They only fill it more breathlessly full.“ 

[Saturday December 16, 1922 -- Volume 3, L.M. Montgomery Selected Journals]

Shortly before Christmas a dear friend wrote to ask me about my new mailing address. When I received an actual Christmas card in the mail several weeks later, my heart skipped a little beat with joy. Of course I showed my gratitude by forgetting to write a note of thanks amidst a more than usually stressful holiday season (the holidays are ALWAYS busy at Ojolie, but this year was crazier than usual as we relocated for the second time in a year). Well past the holidays, I found this little memento and finally sat down to pen a short email. Okay, my better half will laugh and point out that I never write short emails.



It is because I used to write long hand written letters as a child. I don’t feel old, but I realize that probably makes me sound rather old to my own children. My parents were expats and I lived in several different parts of the world growing up. So to keep in touch with friends, this was the only option available. I kept a metal trunk under my bed with all the letters from friends neatly stashed away long after I had lost touch with friends, who likewise moved around a bit. Shortly before I left for college in the US, the letters were tossed in favor of what I could carry in the two suitcases.

If only I had know then that the art of letter writing would quickly become a thing of the past, maybe I would have held on to at least a few of them. I did re-read some before tossing them and there were so many fun details in these letters I had forgotten. I don’t tend to be a collector or hold on to things, but in this case it is not the actual letters I miss, as much as this way of communicating with friends half a world away. Storytelling that is meant to allow us to partake in their life from far away, sentiments committed to paper, dreams and hopes shared.

Even though the format of human communication may have changed with email, facebook and other instant messages, human sentiment and the need to connect transcends time and progress.

I have noticed that perhaps because of this there is a revival of interest in the art of letter writing. To return to a more personal way of connecting. More than ever, it doesn’t matter what medium we use to communicate our sentiment. The sheer act of sitting down and taking the time to pen a personalized message will be appreciated more than ever. It doesn’t mean rushing out and buying special stationary or a fountain pen (although by all means do if that inspires you to write). Although some will hold a more dogmatic view than me, the art of letter writing is not about form or a beautifully handwritten letter. As the word ‘art’ implies, it is really open to interpretation. An art form is something you practice and perfect, find inspiration and joy in - a medium for sharing human expression. What that means to you personally is not for me to say. But I would love to hear what you think.

Mail man in Corsica 1952, photo credit: Prof. emeritus Hans Schneider

Follow Frederikke Tu's board c o n n e c t on Pinterest.




Inspirations from Nature | Making 'My Wish For You'

Often people are curious about where I draw my inspiration for my cards from.  There are so many sources of inspiration, but because nature has a very strong effect on me, probably that is the main inspiration in my work.

As an artist I experience the world visually, filing away things I notice for future use.  When creating a card with a specific sentiment in mind, I try to see what that could translate into.  In my newest e-card "My Wish For You" I tried to think of what I would wish for the many amazing mothers I know and love.  And what I would appreciate my children wishing for me.  And more than anything I realized it was about the little things in life that actually are the big things - the amazing mundane things that make life worth living.




So one morning while sipping my morning coffee and going through my art journal, I noticed I had jotted down a few things I felt grateful for a few weeks prior - bird song, the sunrise that morning, the hug my husband gave me and the company I had that day.  And from there the words to this card just came to me and from there the artistic vision started taking place.  Or rather it took flight as my little feathered friends take center stage in this card.



Here is an inspiration board I keep adding to all the time - where I file away things from nature that inspire my work or that just fascinate me.  

Find the Perfect DIY Gift Idea


"The manner of giving is worth more than the gift"

This sentiment might be interpreted to mean that it is the thought that counts. And so every year on mother’s day children present little handmade presents to show their appreciation for mom. These little keepsakes are lovingly stored away as a token of their children’s gratitude, because let’s be honest - that pasta necklace or picture frame made out of popsicle sticks is mostly going to be appreciated as a memento. 

For the rest of us, gift giving has to rise to a higher level to convey what mom means to us. But herein lies the challenge; the DIY gift, while heartfelt often looks just that - DIY. The store bought gift sometimes seems too impersonal and not creative.
 
These family luminaries at bestbites.com make the perfect gift for Mom

I have collected a few ideas that might inspire you to make some gifts that are both personal and convey what the recipient means to you. These ideas work for many other occasions as well - especially the holidays, but also Father's Day and Birthdays. Never too early to start collecting ideas and planning some fun diy projects that will make amazing gifts all year long!

And if all else fails, remember a huge bouquet of flowers will never fail to send the right message to a woman, mother and wife. Mother's Day is May 11th in the US and many other countries.

Earth Day is Tuesday 22 April

Earth Day is this Tuesday April 22.  To show our support of this global initiative I have created a card inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote and we are making this card free for everyone to send along with our other Earth Day ecards all year long.

The card is part of our new series of Notes, for quick and easy sending, with full mobile support.  And best of all it features two of my favorite flowers, roses and peonies, all hand painted with loving detail!


Earth Day inspired ecard for Ojolie of Roses and Peonies