Letters To Timmy


I’ve produced several pieces of art in the last few weeks, but again none that you would ever see hanging in a museum, or even a local gallery. Despite many promises to myself to return to the oil painting I love so much, I find myself drawn back to creating for those I love in my life, particularly my grandson Timmy. Life throws us all some curve-balls, unexpected losses and gains (though it seems most of the time its losses!), we learn to cope the best we can and to adjust to life as it is. For me it is that careers have taken my daughter, her husband, her son, and her soon to be born daughter to the other side of the country. Life has also moved my son to Los Angeles, roughly 85 miles from me, although if you are familiar with LA traffic you might understand when I say sometimes a flight to NY would be quicker. I am grateful for the modern conveniences of social media. Thanks to cell phones, iPad, and my desktop computer, I am able to talk, text, Face Time, Skype, and email to my heart’s content. Despite all of that I miss the face to face time, the hugs and kisses, and the pleasure of holding my grandson on my lap.

When my kids were growing up I made it a daily habit to include notes in their school lunches, creating characters just for them so that they knew I was always thinking about them. Several months ago I decided to connect with Timmy in much the same way through snail mail. I began to write him short notes, always asking Grandpa to add his own thoughts as well, and then illustrating not just the card but the envelope as well. I decided after my last visit to NY to make Timmy a box to keep his letters in. We visited one of the local antique stores looking for the perfect box, but instead found a little brown suitcase that had seen better days. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I repainted the suitcase a bright and cheery red, searched for images of vintage travel stickers of places that Timmy has been, has family living in, and a couple just for fun. I made one of one of my “Timmy” cards to personalize it. I refurbished the inside as well, using Mod Podge and tissue paper, which looks like lacquer when dry. I also added a little cork board for when he is old enough to safely pin a few things to. Of course me being me I have to go a step further, I bought him a mailbox at the craft store. Personalizing once again to make it special for Timmy (There is also a pink one waiting anxiously for his sister). One of these days I will actually pick up that palette and brush again, but for now I’m happy to send a little love across country.


Since I began writing the blog above I have begun the long overdue task of sorting through the boxes of my dad’s papers and photographs. It has been more than two years since he passed, and Saturday was the tenth anniversary of my Mom’s passing. While I am still grateful for what modern technology can do to keep me in touch with family, I found myself moved by looking through the papers and letters that were in dad’s boxes. My grandparents were in Ireland, they didn’t have the connections that I have. They had to wait for a cherished letter or photograph to know how their son, their daughter, and their four granddaughters were doing. Phone calls were possible but expensive. Those words written on paper were the connection of a family that was far apart. Loving words preserved, glimpses of a life since past, gifts for me, my sisters, our children and theirs. The memory of phone calls fade, Face Time is in the moment, and although an email is I guess the modern letter, and I suppose you could save the file, I wouldn’t trade these faded papers with my grandmother’s signature, my dad’s life story written by his own hand, or my mother’s profession of love to our dad in an old anniversary card for anything. I am hoping that someday long after I’m gone that Timmy and his sister will be able to look back and their grandmother’s funny little drawings, to read my words, and know just how much I love them.

Timmy plane

copyright symbolTimmy Mail, and all images created by Jacqueline Zuckerman contained in this post.



I Need To Alter My Brain!

It’s late again, after ten, but I just didn’t have the time to sit down and type. I spent my entire day looking through the maze of photo files that I have. I was hoping to get started today selling cards with my photography on them, but clever girl that I am, I buried files in files in files. I would remember that one photo that had to be included and would then spend twenty minutes trying to find it. On a good note I did come across quite a few photos to use for projects.

I am really interested in altered art. There is only one problem…me. Here’s the thing, remember me, the girl with no training? One would think that I would be the perfect candidate for something that really doesn’t have rules, where the more inventive you are the better the project looks. But I have serious “it needs to look like it is supposed to” issues. I think that applies to me in more ways than art. I can be very uptight. I don’t mean to be, or necessarily want to be, it’s just who I am. (It is also quite possible that my twelve plus years of Catholic school brainwashing have had some effect.) I have a very hard time letting loose, but I’m shy so I guess that’s part of it. The issue is that I am shy in my art too. I’m so afraid that it isn’t going to look like what ever it is, or that no one will get it, that I get all hung up on what I’m doing. I tried collage and agonized over every piece of paper I laid down.Years ago a boyfriend told me to stop being such a “church lady”. He couldn’t have been more wrong. I like to have fun, I enjoy other people having fun. That’s why I love looking at other artists altered work. No rules, just creativity and enjoyment. Can someone please tell me how to get past the “someone is looking over my shoulder” feeling?  When I was younger and would finish a painting I would bring it downstairs to show my parents. There was always the same two responses,”Who is that for?”, and “Why isn’t it of Ireland?” (If anyone remembers the Mike Myer’s movie, “So I Married An Ax Murderer”, his father was Scottish and anything that wasn’t Scottish was crap. That’s my dad, only he is the Irish version.) I need lessons in how not to care what other people think of my work, to let loose and have fun with art. Towards the end of the day I took two of the photos that I came across in my search today. One is my mom’s passport photo from when she left Ireland, the other is my Nana, my dad’s mom as a teenager. I used a photo program to colorize and photo shop both, I printed them on some labels and sandwiched them between some microscope slides, added copper tape around the outside, and tomorrow when Dan reads the book on how to teach me to solder them (if you were paying attention you know I don’t do instruction books), (and by the way, I really can read), I plan to attempt some form of altered art. So here is the started project, no finished art project today unless you count the sixty plus photos I cropped and got ready for sale. It’s been a long, long day, I’m tired and have no energy to work anymore today. Off to bed, and we will see what I come up with for these photos tomorrow!