For Day 19 of World Watercolor Month and our optional prompt of “Envelope,” I sketched a bunny rabbit mailing a letter. It’s been several years now since I’ve mailed a letter of any kind. In fact, I haven’t purchased stamps in more than a decade. All of that communication can be done online and the sheer ease of doing so has made the humble letter something wistfully nostalgic, but no longer a necessity. I received a card from my mother a few years back that had a short note written in her handwriting. I’ve kept that letter ever since, as there’s simply nothing better than something made by hand. These days, we now have artificial intelligence to help us do even more things we used to do just fine without the extra help. While speed and convenience are certainly wonderful things, I can’t help but wonder what we’re losing along the way. That’s why something created entirely by human skill and creativity is still the most valuable thing I can possibly imagine!

As the world zooms forward, in a fervent quest to hand more and more bits of life’s tasks over to these new intelligent machines, I think I’ll always crave a world without them. Much like a calculator made my math skills nearly obsolete, if I’m not in the habit of doing something for myself, then I’ll soon be lacking the skill to do so. After all, we’re only good at the things we practice on a regular basis. For example, my handwritten notes look like they were written by a child who just ate too much candy. The impatient strokes were already practically illegible before I switched over to typing nearly everything I write. When we stop practicing a skill, it’s soon lost and we’re not able to do it well at all. That’s why I keep sketching each day. I know I’ve done it long enough that I couldn’t lose that ability overnight, but I always want to feel like I’m improving, even if it’s only by a modest amount.

While there are definitely some tasks that I’m happy to hand over to a machine, I still worry there’s a tipping point. One of the greatest skills that humans possess is an ability for creative problem-solving. We do this when we have to figure out how to do something or solve an issue that’s presented to us entirely on our own . If the solution is handed to us time and time again, then that creative problem-solving muscle will atrophy. That’s why my last book was all about practicing creativity instead of only drawing and painting. Creativity is just like anything else and needs to be practiced if one wants to be more skilled at coming up with ingenious solutions. I guess I don’t need or want everything in life to be easy. It’s fun to do things that take a bit of extra effort and handmade arts are irreplaceable. We’re all so unique and what we create has the power to do more than train machines, it has the power to spread real joy and hope. It’s something that wasn’t really talked about in those days long ago when the only way to share those big ideas was by simply sending letters.

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Bunny Rabbit Mailing Letter in Mailbox Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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16 thoughts on “Sending Letters

  1. I usually draw or paint every day, but occasionally I miss a few days. It is surprising how even a short time can impact your skill level. You start to lose that feeling of doing something in the same way that you breathe.

  2. Can you imagine how happy the recipient of that bunny rabbit’s letter will be? I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t have creative time everyday…it’s as important as food and water to me.

  3. I may have been in the minority when instant messaging made its debut. I instinctively knew that it meant I’d be giving up some kind of freedom, and found that to be a frightening prospect. I went to parochial school for several years, and penmanship was actually a class. Our knuckles would be slapped with a ruler for making an “o” over our i’s, rather than a dot, sevens were never allowed to be the Spanish sevens with the line under the top portion of the number, etc. I used to pride myself on my handmade notes, cards, and letters, and was always praised for my lovely writing. (their words). Now at sixty four, my “old lady” handwriting has come out from behind the drapes, and I see apprehension and crooked lines on the birthday card I wrote last week for a friend. So I agree with everything you said, Charlie. AI isn’t always a good thing, at least in my book.

    One of the most recent blessings was doing the June prompts for Doodlewash. Having thirty paintings created, half of them by mid-May, greatly increased my sketching abilities and confidence. I’ve noticed my last seven or so paintings, personal paintings, were much improved, and I finally turned a corner in my desire to paint semi-abstract pieces, and I actually liked them. I painted several times a week before this, but found having to sketch a little more quickly for the prompts made me a better artist. Could AI or my computer have done this for me? Doubtful, so I’ll never collapse myself into the www, and it will always be with a large dose of trepidation that I rely upon my computer.

    The fact that your paintings are child-inspired and with bold colors is an important gift, Charlie. It means you’ll also never collapse yourself into artificial intelligence either, because you have that child-like quality about you, and I believe that’s vital. Even if we go back two decades and compare it with now, it’s scary. Bank accounts are easy to access (mine just saw two vacations and a shopping spree at Sundance a month ago) and rampant identify theft has made a home in this world. Your bunny mailing a letter (and to whom I have to ask!?) made it all so simple, because I think most of us long to be back to a more simple world, where we hugged one another, mailed cards and letters, tried on new clothes in a store’s mirror, and visited with the neighbor next door for morning coffee and cigarettes after husbands left for work.

    Clearly your post today struck a nerve in me, and I’ll stop emoting. Thank you for always keeping the inner child in all of us, each day, every time you lift a brush. You keep that joy alive in all of us.


    Sparkling Heart
    • zoie
    1. Thanks so much, Fanna! 😃💕 Yeah, I think we need to be cautious about giving away too much of ourselves to machines. And practicing art is the most amazing thing in world! I’m so thrilled you’ve created so many new paintings! Yeah… I do long for that simpler world. It was always more inspiring!!

      Hugging Face
      • frances-turano
  4. I love your little bunny mailing the letter and I miss writing letters. I am going to start doing more of that because I think it brings more happiness than texting or emails ever can. Lots of love and hugs to you, Phillippe and Elliotte. ❤

  5. I love to handwrite my letters, Charlie. It’s kinda how and why I started rubber stamping. I wanted to decorate the outside of my envelopes. I never imagined a different addiction would emerge. 😂😂😂 My fingers especially in my right hand took the brunt of the allergic reaction. My fingers felt like they had been through a meat grinder. I couldn’t hold anything and had no grip. These past few days, my fingers have been acting out. Sharp stabbing pain, pins and needles, extreme sensitivity. One thing that I feared was losing my handwriting. I’ve been told that I have beautiful handwriting. I was sad when I sat down to write our neighbor a thank you card for helping us out during my hospital stay because my handwriting was affected. I’m hoping it will get better.
    Super cute painting, Charlie. 😍😍😍

    1. Thanks so much, mi amiga! 😃💕 I hope your hands feel better soon! Though can I already guess that your affected handwriting was probably still light years better than mine! hehe Mine is perfectly awful! Much love to you! ❤️

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