playdate1I walk through my cottage and am bombarded by the communiques from the art that’s all around. The titles are telling. Letters From Lovers Who Never Wrote, a series that had a long run. La Communication, another. A favorite piece from this group has stayed behind obviously for its message and visual reminder. It reads: “stop the world ~ i want to get off.”

My art has been “talking” to me for years. These collages and illustrations remind me of how I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life, what am I thinking about the world.

An early breakfast at Marley’s on the Essex Marina Island with niece, Abbey Jane and Mom, Nan, kept me from totally going underground. When I’m at Marley’s I feel like I’m on Catalina Island, off the coast of LA. It’s the palm tree on the patio, the lawn stretching down to the river and the boats all around that bring me there. The best is we didn’t need to take a plane to get here. The shuttle boat from the main land to the island in under two minutes.

playdate2My morning pages remind me I need and want to create PLAY TIME for myself. The at home studio is calling - come play here, come visit me. There’s always the deadline, the pressure to do what has to be done before getting to the things we love to do. Making a date to play, and literally putting it on the calendar makes it happen as it now has a place of importance!

With a second cup of coffee post breakfast with the girls, it’s only 9:30 with plenty of play time to be had. I pull together some materials. There’s a rough idea brewing. I feel under-exercised and stale in the studio. I circle, I wipe down the counters but am determined to create - not clean - this is a play date.

I find copper letters that have been enameled, a wood piece that looks like an L, at least to me, glass shards, buttons, and stickers. I gravitate to my red binder that houses my stamp collection. This collection is not based on issue dates or normal collectors’ concerns for resale value. It’s the graphic, color, and message that resonates and attracts me to collect a specific stamp. In Paris, l lived near the Stamp Market, Le Marche des Tmbres, on the Avenue Matignon. Often I passed through the stalls along the street and came to know some of the dealers well enough to have an occasional coffee and certainly to enjoy their passion and offerings.

Forever, I have loved the post office. Maybe it started at camp with mail call. I would spot my Dad’s beautiful penmanship on his business envelope and my heart would sing. I wrote, its been noted, an endless stream of letters. Perhaps, it was the excuse to visit the camp store for stamps and candy. What ever got me started, it has now carried me around the world to post offices in shacks to historic buildings in world capitals. I’ve enjoyed tracking down stamp dealers in dark and shabby offices in order to comb their collections. Every stamp has a story to tell and I love their simplicity of scale.

playdate3Mail Art was a movement which I hope will never be lost. Needless to say, the postal system is under siege. Having designed for the Paris Musee de la Poste boutique, I was inspired by others who joined my enthusiasm to create mail as art. I’ve mailed many “odd” things through the mail including collaged paint palettes, and wood dye-cut cars. These works of art arrive unpackaged, as is. They risk the elements of travel, handling and opinion, and still, they arrive in amazingly good shape. The Chester Gallery was often the recipient of these mail pieces for an upcoming art show. I loved the reaction at our rural Normandie post office as I arrived laden with an armful of Mail Art to be posted. A waiting customer turned to me and said, oh my, I see your children have been having fun. My response, “Oh yes, I have!” In Munich, Germany, the postal clerk flat out refused to post my creations not even with a begging smile. Instead he shouted at me in German (which I don’t speak) and the entire line behind me translated: “this is not an art gallery, this is THE POST OFFICE!” Alas!

With all the stuff around me and the morning pages nudge to “create play time,” I did, quite literally. I started with the antique L-shaped stocking form, and covered it with favorite stamps. With every choice a flush of memory came over me. Forgotten experiences of time and place came back. I spent the day ‘til dusk reminiscing and playing with this mixed bag of materials. There was little light left in the day in which to garden though strawberries gifted from neighbor, Stephanie got planted. A few more weeds were uprooted. I even choose to leave the twirley skirt in the closet and not to dance. The message was clear. It was long overdue PLAY TIME. It’s summer. It’s time to do the things we love the most. It’s time to get up, get out, move, create, laugh, dance, swim, hike, whatever makes us happy. TIME expands when we PLAY.

Jill Butler’s next Creating Your Vision Workshop in her Chester Studio, Saturday, June 19, 10 - 1. The fee is $45. To register, or for more information, call 860-526-5155 or e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.