Card Art

Art is all around us. All you have to do is LOOK…

For the past year, my younger son has been heavily into magic and cardistry. Cardistry differs from card magic as defined below:

“While card magic focuses on manipulation of playing cards for purposes of illusion, cardistry is the non-magical manipulation of playing cards with intent to display creativity, performance art, and skill.”
Bicycle Cards

I never knew there was an entire subculture of cards and cardists, but it really is quite impressive. If you Google Card Art or Cardistry you’ll find virtually thousands of articles, YouTube videos and links to specialty stores that sell decks made especially for the purpose.

Another subset of this incredible genre is the collectible luxury decks. One such special item is the one-of-a-kind Ultimate Deck by Dan & Dave produced in collaboration with the award-winning design firm Stranger & Stranger. Each card features a unique work of art ranging from classical to the macabre. My son received this beautiful deck for Christmas and it’s a favorite of mine as well.

playing-cards-ultimate-deck
Portion of Ultimate Deck (Courtesy of Dan & Dave Website)

As an artist, I thought it would be fun to create a unique playing card for Ethan. I took some pictures of him with the cards and decided to replicate the image of him doing an S-Fan with the Ultimate Deck. He wanted to be the “Joker” (which is quite fitting if you know my son). I traced the outline of an actual playing card and then drew the image with pencil. Using Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens and my Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Markers I used a combination of stippling and line art to complete the drawing.

21/2" x 31/2" Marker and Ink on Bristol Board adapted from Personal Photograph
21/2″ x 31/2″ Marker and Ink on Bristol Board adapted from Personal Photograph

Continuous Line Drawing

A few weeks ago I was paging through the enormous Winter catalog of our local high-end, up-scale mall: Somerset Collection. This “tome” is basically a super-charged glossy Vanity Fair magazine on steroids, with ads from Versace, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Gucci, etc. You get the picture; it’s our little slice of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive or Paris’ Champs-Elysees right here in the Mid-West.

As I was drooling over the beautiful clothes and accessories, gagging over others, and laughing at the teeny-tiny corner descriptions that state the specifics like amount$$$, I came across a really cool ad. I have no idea what it was for, there was no teeny-tiny description in the corner just a .com address which I accidentally tore through.

It was simply a continuous line drawing done in black against a solid white background and it really struck me: here was this elegant advertisement that stood out like a beacon of simplicity against all the extravagance and opulence and it was beautiful.

This beautiful ad became my muse for the evening and I set out to explore continuous line drawing for myself. I’d been wanting a good excuse to use my new set of Prismacolor® Premier Fine Line Markers I purchased a while back but hadn’t yet broken the seal. Against the 6″x6″ Strathmore® Bristol Artist Tiles, they flew with ease; it was a perfect marriage.

This was fun! Next I experimented with Black India Ink® on Strathmore® 6″x6″ Watercolor Artist Tiles. I used a technique I had learned in my Figure Class. You use 3 – 4 gradations of ink and water to show the different values. Using a silly selfie from a girls weekend (that’s one post that will never see the light of day:)). I started laying in the values while practicing my portrait skills. It was a quick fun piece. The nose is completely messed up but I like it!

Girls Weekend Selfie
6″x 6″ Black India Ink on Strathmore Watercolor Artist Tile

It was a fun creative night inspired by a simple line drawing in an outrageous, overpriced, opulent catalog. Usually I just toss it in the recycle bin, but for some reason I hung on to this one — funny how things work out sometimes.

Rhino

Our family visited the Detroit Zoo a few weeks ago and I swear the animals were posing for me! One of our favorites is the giant majestic rhinoceros.  We have two rhinos at the zoo and this day they were front and center.

Male Southern white rhinoceroses Jasiri (“courageous” in Swahili) and Tamba (“strut proudly” in Swahili) arrived in 2005 as the first of their species to live at the Detroit Zoo. Jasiri often shows his playful side by ganging up on his toys while running around the habitat. Tamba is the more dominant of the two and struts around with confidence and intelligence. Detroitzoo.org

Because of the small sized Bristol board I used, the head size had to be reduced in order to fit in the other features. My version below looks a bit more like a juvenile, but I went with it. I love his sweet expression.

Detroit Zoo Rhinoceros
Baby Rhino

Zoe

This is a pen and ink drawing of our feisty one-year-old kitty, Zoe. I took a close- up photograph of her curled up in one of her favorite spots: her little basket on our counter-top under the warm lights.

Zoe

Ethan

Ethan
12″ X 14″ Pen & Ink on Bristol Board Adapted from Personal Photograph

Before I left Kathy’s class, I had one more piece to complete: a stippling of baby Ethan. My idea was to draw Ethan at the same age as Dylan so that I could frame them together: my two boys at 8 months old.

(Side Note: this photo was taken post framing).

What Are You Looking At?

Once I had success with the stippling technique, I was ready to tackle another project. This time, I would go big (literally); the subject was our 35 pound Maine Coon cat Shasta. I love this photo; it captures his tough-guy attitude so well. However, deep down he was a real fraidy cat that loved belly rubs!

Needless to say, this portrait took many, many, many, hours and countless dots. About half way through I questioned my own sanity! Again, I began by stippling the eyes, then the main features, and lastly the shadows and highlights. I finished up by adding a bit of colored pencil to the eyes and nose.

Meow…

Shasta Cat
11″x14″ Pen & Ink Stippling on Bristol Board Adapted from Personal Photograph

Dylan

In 2005 I began art classes with Kathy through the Warren Fine Arts Center (WFAC). It was really more of a workshop where a group of people met once a week to chat and work on their art. Kathy was our mentor, guiding us through our own personal journey. Some worked in pen and ink while others worked with pastels. I had no experience with the latter, so I stuck with something familiar.

As a new mom, I wanted to do a portrait of my baby. I fished out one of my very favorite photos of Dylan at 8 months. It was taken when we were on a mini vacation up north with my mom. Dylan was playing in his saucer and smiling for the camera.

12″x14″ Pen & Ink on Bristol Board Adapted from Personal Photograph

The first step was to blow-up the image to the desired size and lightly transfer it to the bristol board with graphite. Next, I carefully outlined the shadows and highlights. I started by stippling the eyes. As Kathy taught us, the eyes are the most important part in a portrait. If you get those right, then you’ve captured the person’s essence. And if you don’t, you haven’t wasted hours of work. From there it was a matter of focusing on the shapes formed by the shadows and highlights rather than thinking about the actual part of the body. After the dots were all applied, I used very straight thin lines to convey his hair.

Dot…dot…dot…

The Face

For this high school assignment, I created a large quasi-stippling piece. My subject was a young girl whose image I cut from a magazine. Although, after completion, everyone thought it was a self-portrait! Using a projector, I lightly replicated the image onto a large piece of poster board with pencil and then added the details in ink. I decided to focus on the darks and shadows and left the light areas completely white.

Every year our teacher would showcase a few pieces of art in the student hallway.  This year mine was chosen to hang in the “gallery”.  It was my first taste of showing my art to people other than my family and friends and I couldn’t have been more proud!

It was 1988 and the band Duran Duran was a huge success and wildly admired by us teenage girls! Although not intentional, this piece always reminds me of Patrick Nagel‘s artwork for the Rio album cover.

The Face
24″ x 36″ Pen & Ink on Poster Board adapted from photograph