Trust me, your artistic self is just as powerful as a postage stamp. Maybe more.

Fresh off my first Open Studio tour of the year, and boy is my studio CLEAN! I love open studio events for many reasons, but more on that later this week. I have something else on my mind that has to come out today.

As you may know, my soapbox speech is about finding out what makes you, and your work, unique.

We hear all about how no two snowflakes are identical, and how our fingerprints and DNA are unique to us.

You’d think, with all this unique-ness pouring out of us, we could a unique way to talk about our work.

I’ve been in a lot of group shows this year, seen a lot of lovely work and talked to a lot of passionate artists. What strikes me is how everyone says the same things about their art.

We talk about our compositions. We talk about why we love pastel, or oil, or clay. We talk about light and shapes.

If I hear “I just love color!” one more time….. Well, it won’t be pretty.

So let me share an ‘aha!’ moment I had years ago.

I was doing a mail art project, and wanted old postage that would reflect the theme of my piece. I found an older couple who ran a stamp collecting business out of their home.

As I scrabbled through the trays and books of postage, we talked about stamp and the stamp collecting biz. They shared stories about stamp collectors. I asked her what kinds of stamps people collected.

The woman said, “You know, in fifty years of selling stamps and doing shows and talking to collectors, I’ve never seen two people collect exactly the same thing.”


Now think about that a minute.

There is no creativity per se in collecting stamps. Collectors don’t make the stamps, nor are they handmade by other people. Stamps are produced en masse, and have been in production for years.

Collectors simply….collect.

But how they collect is so strongly individual and personal, each collection–each act of collecting–is as unique as….well, the human being who put it together.

Some collect by country, or region or language. Some collect by subject matter. Politics, places, people, animals, plants, themes, designs, plate designer…. There is simply no end to the possible combinations of appeal.

If we could get away from the mundane–what our materials are, the fact that we love certain colors or lines or compositions…..

If we could dig a little deeper and think about why we make the art we do….

If we could tell a richer, more personal story about our art…..

If we were willing to go the scary, deep place of who we are, and who we yearn to be in the world…

People would see our work as the miracle in the world it truly is.

Sharing ‘unique’ processes, ‘unique’ inspiration, ‘unique’ love of color/shape/style, separates us from our audience.

Discovering what makes us tick as a human being, sharing what is truly in our hearts, connects us with our audience.

Be brave. Be YOU.

Some of my postage stamps

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.


  1. Thank you for this post Luann! I’ve been following your blog for a long time but never tell you how much I appreciate your writing- you always leave me with something to think about!
    This is fabulous. In just having returned from a group show this post makes me think about what I have to say witih my work. Being a landscape painter, sometimes our paintings look too much alike! Now I have something to think about in both the creating of my work and in writing and talking about it.
    Thank yoU!


  2. Oh what a wonderful post. I don’t like talking about my art because so often I have a difficult time finding words to describe where the inspiration comes from, why I do it, what it means. I am simply moved by something (I don’t really know what that something is) to says paint!!!!!!

    Thanks for such a great blog……I find a lot of encouragement here.


  3. As a child I used to love watching my older brother with his stamp collection. I just couldn’t resist admire the little paper stamps with all the sharp lines making images of marvelous places, animals, persons. Later I received the collection, and found out that many artists design stamps. Stamps made me close to printing, design. They made me look at art.


  4. Thanks for another great post, Luann. You inspire me to strive harder and reach higher. In fact, you were a big influence in my decision to start my own blog and talk about my work. It’s in its infancy, but I’m learning about the process day by day and seeing the value in writing my thoughts. Meeting you in person someday is high on my bucket list.


  5. Interesting — about the collecting. Since collecting can be part of the art making process – selecting that “found” object. Thanks for sharing that, it’s given me a new way to think about the process.


  6. but wait a minute.. I do love color 🙂 ok ok ok. Thank you for sharing this.. I love how your point of view continues to make me think about my art. I am one of those poeple that say I love color, I’m more interested in how color plays off of one another in its organic form rather than planning something color wise. I think about being a fiber artist and collecting.. oh boy, fabric, thread, beads, yarn oh my. While the basis of my work may be color the end result for me is Texture. Thanks for both the “permission” and encouragement to look more closely at my own work.


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