Mail Art & Challenges

Santa Fe BAG is currently hosting four different challenges. Please click on the links below to go to each one:

Mail Art | Anything Goes! | Round Robin Art Journals | Artist Trading Cards

Mail Art 12 in ’23: Color

Each month you will create a 4×6 postcard (using cardstock) that focuses on one color.

Then email Linda Zwick ( with your address before the third Saturday of the month. She will email you the name and address of your recipient the next week.

You have the entire month to work on your card. Please mail it to your mail art recipient by the end of the month. (For example, if you sign up in December for the January mail art, please mail your card by the end of January.)

Also email a photograph of your card to BAG ( These images will be used on social media, the BAG website, and occasional BAG slideshows. If you would prefer not to have your card exhibited in any of these venues, please just skip sending in an image.

Anything Goes! Adventures in Art: Famous Artists

Create a piece of art, any size, shape, and with whatever materials you choose.

There is no assigned exchange involved in this project, so send to anyone you like or keep for yourself.

Please photograph and email an image of your creation to BAG ( by the end of the next month. As with Mail Art, your image may be used on social media, the BAG website, and for a Zoom presentation. Emailing an image serves as your permission for BAG to use this photo of your art.

BAG President Linda Zwick has given us a challenge. Create a piece of art of any kind (no limitations on size or structure), send to friends and family if you like, and send a photo to (for posting on the website and social media, and inclusion in a likely future slideshow at a BAG membership meeting). The themes are just suggestions; create whatever suits your fancy!

Click the links below to see examples of the artists’ work.


January 28 is Jackson Pollock’s birth anniversary. Experiment with poured paint and spatter!


In February 2022, Cuban-born artist Carmen Herrera died at age 106, having worked in relative anonymity until age 89. Experiment with abstract geometric shapes.


In March 1891, Georges Seurat died at the age of 31. Following his lead, experiment with techniques he devised: chromoluminarism and pointillism, or use Conte crayon to draw on rough surfaced paper.


Lyubov Popova was a Russian avant-garde artist. This month, try your hand at Suprematist art, that is, focus on pure artistic feeling rather than on visual depiction of objects.


Barbara Kruger is a contemporary artist most well known for her collage style consisting of black-and-white photographs overlaid with declarative captions. Suggestion: create a collage of an image overlaid with text.


M.C. Escher was a Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. As noted in Wikipedia, “his work features mathematical objects and operations including impossible objects, explorations of infinity…truncated and stellated polyhedra, hyberolic geometry, and tessellations.” Suggestion: create an exploration of infinity or mathematical objects.


Chuck Close was a visual artist, photographer, painter, and printmaker who made many abstract portraits of himself and others. He is known for many styles of artwork, including tapestry portraits and portraits made of many miniature photographs. Suggestion: play with a portrait or self-portrait with a unique design.


We all, I bet, know of Andy Warhol, who was a leading figure in the pop art movement. Suggestion: step away from fine art and experiment with imagery from popular culture, that is, focus on a mundane image from an ironic view.


Alma Thomas became known for “exuberant, colorful abstract paintings” (per Wikipedia). She had a long career teaching art and did not become a professional artist until about age 68. About this time, she developed a style of pointillism using dramatic contrasts of colors in a mosaic style; most of her works have circular, horizonal, or vertical patterns.  Suggestion: experiment with contrasting colors in mosaic configurations.


John Dwyer McLaughlin was an abstract painter and a pioneer in minimalism and “hard edge” painting, in which abrupt changes occur between color areas that are often of unvarying shades. This style of paining is related to color field painting (see December challenge). Suggestion: create an image of bold shapes and strong colors.


Margarete Bagshaw was born in November 1964. She died (an untimely death) in 2015. She was a member of Santa Clara Pueblo; her grandmother Pablita Velarde and her mother Helen Hardin were both famous New Mexico artists. Bagshaw was a modernist artist and many of Bagshaw’s paintings incorporate designs based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula that’s called “nature’s secret code” or “nature’s universal rule” (an example being the shape of the nautilus shell). Experiment with harmonious components in a piece.


Helen Frankenthaler was an American abstract expressionist painter. Per Wikipedia, “her style is notable on its emphasis on spontaneity.” In 1960, the term “color field painting” was used to describe her work. According to Wikipedia, Frankenthaler often painted on unprimed canvas with oil paints heavily diluted with turpentine, a technique she termed “soak stain.” Suggestion: create an image based on “color field” design, using large areas of color and hues similar in tone or intensity.

Round Robin Art Journals

To participate, you must be a BAG member in good standing (i.e., your membership dues are current).

For this swap you select an art journal that will pass from artist to artist. You will not see your journal for about four months; but when it comes back, it will be filled with art! Those who participated in previous rounds have been thrilled with beautiful artwork our partners created.

When you sign up, coordinator Deanna Joy Hallmark will send you all the instructions. Briefly, here’s how it works.

  1. Select a book (handmade or purchased).
  2. Select a theme (or you can have no theme).
  3. Write your guidelines, if any.
  4. Create your sign-in page(s) and at least one art journal spread of your own.

We will exchange our books monthly on the first day of the month. There are two subgroups:

A. Those who live locally will arrange a place to meet and exchange.

B. Those who live outside of the Santa Fe area will mail their book to the next person so it will **arrive** by the first of the month.

To participate, email Deanna at with the following information:

Your Name:

Your Email Address:

Your Mailing Address:

Your Phone Number:

Which Round-Robin Swap(s) You Wish to Participate in:

A. Round-Robin Art Journal via local contactless delivery only

B. Round-Robin Art Journal via U.S. Priority Mail

If you do NOT receive an email confirmation from Deanna within one week after you’ve emailed her:

  1. Check the spam folder of your email program, then
  2. Email her again or call/text (check the membership roster for her phone number)

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)

To participate, you must be a BAG or Libros member in good standing (i.e., your membership dues are current).

This swap renews each month. ATCs, or Artist Trading Cards, are little pieces of art that people send to one another. It’s fun to see all the different techniques people use in a small (2.5″ x 3.5″, horizontal or vertical) space.

ATCs can be any medium or technique. Any embellishments should still allow the ATC to be stored in a baseball card page slot–so fairly flat. Your design can extend off the design area as long as it can be folded in for storage and transport.

Ruthanna Abigail is the ATC Trade Coordinator . Please email her at with the following information:

Your Name:

Your Email Address:

Your Mailing Address:

Your Phone Number:

If you do NOT receive an email confirmation from Ruthanna within one week after you’ve emailed her:

  1. Check the spam folder of your email program, then
  2. Email her again or call/text (check the membership roster for her phone number)

Ruthanna will send your collaborators’ contact information.

You will be placed into a group with three or four other participants. You make cards for the others in your group and send them out so they arrive before the end of the month. In return, you receive cards. It’s happy mail! You can make each ATC different or work in a series.

Here are the rules:

  • Unless you say otherwise, Ruthanna will assume you want to continue swapping and will include you in the trading groups.
  • Make one card for each person in your group. It’s fun to make one for yourself at the same time.
  • Your ATC must finish at no larger than 2.5″ x 3.5″. If you have things that extend beyond that border, they must be foldable into the ATC. All  storage containers and page sleeves are designed for that size. If your card has a non-rectangular shape, at least one edge must be 2.5″ or 3.5″.
  • ATCs should be created on something firm like watercolor paper or Bristol Board. For those of you who like to recycle, you can cut up a cereal box and use that as your substrate; the colored side does need to be sanded before use, though.
  • Embellishments are great but shouldn’t extend more than 3/8″ off the card. Using pop-up squares to create depth is fine.
  • Draw, paint, collage, whatever. No particular style is expected except your own. Let’s avoid nudity, politics, religion, and profanity so we can all get along.
  • Editions are okay but avoid simply pasting a photocopy on a background. Editions can be as simple as making something big and cutting it to size.
  • No required orientation for the card–it’s okay to design in a horizontal or vertical fashion.
  • Please identify your work with your name on the back. Include SF BAG ATC Swap as part of the information.
  • You are not required to send your card in an individual sleeve, but put it inside a folded paper within the envelope, especially if anything sticks up from the surface.
  • Please, please, please use the four-digit zip code extension when addressing your envelopes. These extensions have become more important; using them ensures the delivery of your wonderful art.
  • Mail your cards no later than the 20th of the month to ensure that they arrive on time.
  • BEFORE mailing, please scan or photograph your cards and send the photos to Ruthanna, indicating your mailing date. If you photograph your cards, do so while they are flat. Please don’t get fancy.
  • Let Ruthanna know when you’ve received all your cards.