POSTMARK, The suitcase musings of a vintage songstress is a cartoon created by singer songwriter Beth Portman. It explores the joys and frustrations of finding your own artistic path both musically and visually.


Beth Portman was trained as a classical animator and created two animated short films 'Cactus Swing' and 'Fair Phyllis' with the National Film Board of Canada.  Beth is also a singer songwriter inspired by the music of the early to mid 20th century. 

2016 10 31 postmark by beth portman 950px

Thoughts on POSTMARK #012 by Beth
I love Halloween! Not the ghoulish stuff but the opportunity to dress up in what ever you want to. One year I went as a 1950's house wife with a plate of chocolate cookies. Another year I wore a bowler hat and went as a 1910's Charlie Chaplin' silent movie actor dressed in monochromatic colours. I've always been interested historical clothing and even tinkered with the idea of becoming a theatre costume designer in my teens.

2016 10 011 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts on POSTMARK #011 by Beth
Music is a powerful connector and communicator. I can't tell you how grateful I am that music plays a part in my life. I have made so many good friends through sharing music whether as a musician or music enthusiast. With it's cornucopia of melodies, rhythms and styles I would add music to the Thanksgiving table as way of bringing people together. 

2016 10 010 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about #010 by Beth
This cartoon turned out to be the most colourful of the POSTMARK series so far. With the trees outside my window turning rich oranges, reds and yellows I wanted to say something about this time of year. I love the sound of the crunch of brittle leaves under my feet but dislike the honks of Canadian Geese flying overhead announcing the change of seasons. "Nooooo, not yet!" I call to them as they pass over my house in their V formations on route south. However,  I'm already finding stores filling their corners and aisles with Christmas displays. On this 4th day of autumn it just seems wrong.

2016 09 009 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about POSTMARK #009 by Beth
Being a singer songwriter who pulls inspiration from a variety of music styles has its challenges.  I realize having one clear cut genre makes things a lot easier, especially when filling out an artist description form, pitching to a potential presenter or audience member.  After years of trying different genre descriptions I've relaxed into using the simple 'vintage vibe'. It's not on one of those form lists but when I pitch in person they feel the mood of it and become intrigued. Hopefully it draws them enough that they'll take the leap and attend one of my concerts. At that point I can let the music do the talking.

2016 09 008 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about POSTMARK #008 by Beth
Every performer experiences 'brain drain' and for myself especially when introducing a brand new song. I am guaranteed to forget at least a few lines of lyrics the first time I perform it in front of an audience. Typically a good round of jazz like scat singing fills in the blank.

2016 09 007 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about #007 by Beth
Any musician who has attended an open stage or open mic can relate to this particular situation. I've signed my name in the last spot plenty of times. I've fortunately NOT fallen asleep but I've certainly lost some of the energetic zeal I walked in at the start.  Just this week I attended a new open stage in the city and arrived early to assure an early spot. As soon as that piece of paper appeared at the side of the stage I quickly left my mark. I'm happy to say I was performer number three that night.

2016 09 006 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about POSTMARK #006 by Beth
 As a singer songwriter it always amazes me how there are those particular performers that just have IT. There's something about their persona, voice and or delivery that the masses are drawn to, or shall I say, "flock to".  I've never been one to walk the popular path both with my music and art. However, I've realized that I just have to trust that those people who get what I do will eventually find me.  

I wanted to focus on  'Peep' in this particular cartoon. The idea came from a group of birds playing in a rain puddle outside my house. A robin had flown down to the puddle's edge, hopped in and started washing itself with great fluttery gusto. A couple of smaller sparrows decided to join the fun. Much annoyed by this intrusion the larger bird chased them away only to have its bath repeatedly interrupted by their persistence. 

2016 08 005 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts about POSTMARK #005
The lyrics being developed in this cartoon are actually from my original song 'Home To You'.  This summer has been particularly rainy where I live.  You see the grey clouds looming but it's the ferocity that is so surprising. I almost got caught  in a down pour walking home after being dropped off at the bus stop. I was carrying my ukulele but I didn't have a umbrella or rain jacket that particular day. Luckily I made it to my doorway with only two large drops spattering my head.

POSTMARK #004  FINAL version

POSTMARK #004 FINAL version

Thoughts on POSTMARK #004 by Beth
When struggling with getting creative there's nothing like the sounds of nature to help clear the mind. I know many artists who escape to the outdoors for this purpose and the burst of colour in the last panel is intended to capture the senses coming alive with the change. My original intention was the final panel would be calm. However I added nature sounds which became their own kind of earworm or a distraction from achieving peace.  I pondered briefly about removing the sounds but decided against it temporarily since that addition unintentionally made the cartoon funnier in my opinion. It did loose my original intent of what nature can offer. So I was torn. Go for the laugh or go with the message. I decided to post the two cartoon versions on my Facebook page to get feed back what my readers felt worked best. With their suggestions I did the the final version which is shown above. 

POSTMARK #004 Version A

POSTMARK #004 Version A

POSTMARK #004 version B

POSTMARK #004 version B

2016 08 003 postmark by beth portman

Thoughts on POSTMARK #003 by Beth
As a songwriter I can definitely relate to this topic. When I'm developing a new tune I sometimes get a particular hook in my mind that keeps repeating over and over. This can be a good sign that the line is working. However it leaves a kind of imprint on the brain which haunts you. 
You'll notice that Peep has some added colour this time to help him pop out a bit from the page. Plus a new character, Mr. Earworm has made an appearance. 

Postmark cartoon 2016 08 002 beth portman

Thoughts on POSTMARK #002 by Beth
Ideas are always a challenge. To get rid of 'the blank in the brain' this cartoon suggests one solution.

Postmark 08 2016 001 beth portman

Thoughts on POSTMARK #001 by Beth
This summer I've decided to start exploring the four panel cartoon strip to allow more possibilities in story telling. In animation you plan out your ideas in a storyboard. I've missed doing this approach  I feel it's a better fit for what I want to express in my drawings.
The subject for this cartoon captures the dilemma of any artist. What to do and where to start?

POSTMARK, The First Attempt
In 2015 I started exploring the idea of a cartoon.  It was a one panel cartoon created in a little black covered traveling journal.  It gave me a particular challenge of capturing an idea with one image. Coming from animation this approach quickly lost steam and I stopped after six cartoons. I may explore this again but for now I'm enjoying the new four panel strip form.

I fell in love with Scotland this July when I travelled there with my family. I was so taken with the history and the land that on my return I wrote a new song called 'Home' about the desire to connect with one's ancestral roots.

I fell in love with Scotland this July when I travelled there with my family. I was so taken with the history and the land that on my return I wrote a new song called 'Home' about the desire to connect with one's ancestral roots.

The idea for this cartoon came from a comment mentioned on Facebook about my hair curl.  That particular photo showed off my bang curl in such a way that the commenter could envision a surfer making his or her way through it. For reasons of composition this ukulele surfin' singer is riding the top of the curl and taking in the suns rays.  Welcome to summer!

The idea for this cartoon came from a comment mentioned on Facebook about my hair curl. That particular photo showed off my bang curl in such a way that the commenter could envision a surfer making his or her way through it. For reasons of composition this ukulele surfin' singer is riding the top of the curl and taking in the suns rays. Welcome to summer!

Thought I'd capture my 'happy dance' at me and the fellas being booked to play this very unique music venue presented by the Edmonton Streetcar Concert Series. Our June 4th show sold out fast and is the perfect spot for my music!

Thought I'd capture my 'happy dance' at me and the fellas being booked to play this very unique music venue presented by the Edmonton Streetcar Concert Series. Our June 4th show sold out fast and is the perfect spot for my music!

My friend Bonnie thought it would be nice to add music to my cartoons. Here's a little song I wrote a few years back I thought would go nicely with this image. I put it together in Garageband for fun. It allowed me to play around with different approaches to my music. If you like it feel free to download it.

My friend Bonnie thought it would be nice to add music to my cartoons. Here's a little song I wrote a few years back I thought would go nicely with this image. I put it together in Garageband for fun. It allowed me to play around with different approaches to my music. If you like it feel free to download it.

POSTMARK #001
The first cartoon in my little black journal in preperation for Valentine's Day.

POSTMARK #001 The first cartoon in my little black journal in preperation for Valentine's Day.

Had a  nasty fall down the stairs and broke my collarbone. I was off to do my hair for a gig that evening. As you can guess I didn't make it. Was stuck in the hospital for 4 days waiting for surgery.

Had a nasty fall down the stairs and broke my collarbone. I was off to do my hair for a gig that evening. As you can guess I didn't make it. Was stuck in the hospital for 4 days waiting for surgery.