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Try This: Fun with Postcards

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

I’ve recently returned from a weeklong writing retreat in the south of France (more on that in a future post) led by my friend and fellow Amherst Writers & Artists facilitator Summer Hardinge. Yesterday I was looking through the notebook I kept while there, and I noticed a short piece that I wrote in response to a postcard.

Summer had a collection of Van Gogh postcards, and each day on the retreat she invited one of the participants to draw one. She would then post it on the easel she kept in the main living area, and we were free to write in response to it or not. On the last day of the retreat, we all wrote for 5 minutes on Les Saintes Marie de la Mer, pictured here. Here’s what I wrote:

It’s like stained glass and velvet,

terra cotta tile and patchwork quilt,

like the sea,

like a box of Crayola crayons,

like cactus and cushions,

a villagescape that invites me to see

with fresh eyes, to expand

my awareness of color, to break free

of convention.

Who but the artist can make such a demand?

It was fun just to riff off an image this way, and I invite you to follow Summer’s suggestion and try it, too! Either look up a Van Gogh image on Mr. Google, or dig into your own collection of unsent postcards (surely I’m not the only one who has one?), pick one, and write what you see.

Avoir du plaisir!

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