I’ve been a fan of postage stamps since I was a kid. To paste a piece of printed paper on a letter and know that it will reach far and wide is still fascinating to me. But I was even more attracted by the stamp art.
Somebody, some artist, painted very tiny works of art to decorate and add symbols and histories and portraits and wishes to those little bits of paper. Even at that size, I always felt the hand and mind of the artist behind the images. It would be many decades before I understood how they were created.
Over recent years I’ve become that artist behind the image. I’ve been able to work with the USPS to become one of the many people they work with to design those small bits of everyday color.
A couple years back, while pitching several stamp ideas to the art director, Derry Noyes, she’d mentioned that they wanted to do a series of paintings of Winter flowers. Being a fan of Winter and snow (as most of you know!), and thinking the colors would look great against white backgrounds, I told her I’d develop a few color samples so she could see what I had in mind.
I actually went a little far and did their entire list of flowers as digital painting examples. Derry knew I’d be painting the final pieces in oils, so this just helped us both understand how the design and color would work in a one-inch composition.
Once she signed off on the color comps, I painted each about 8” across. I wanted to keep them loose so that the brushwork would still read at such a small size. (The larger you paint, the smaller the strokes become when reduced to stamp size. By painting small, I could control more of what was seen in the finished stamp.)
I’m no expert in flowers so they provided me with copyright-cleared reference for each flower. From there I shifted the elements around in the shots to design a solid composition, shared that with Derry, and then we worked together to modify and improve the designs to get the best impact. She’s great to work with and has a fabulous eye for making stamps look so graceful.
I thought you might be interested in seeing the finished stamp paintings at a larger scale, so I’ve included them throughout the post. They’re available right now at your local post office.