Card Art

JenArt, Life, Other Art, Pen & Ink

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.

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


Animals, JenArt, Pen & Ink

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.

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

Tin Fish, Cock-tailed

App Art, JenArt, Life

I officially turned one year older just before midnight on the 19th of May. Every year my mom tells me some form of the story; “It all began on a hot summer day. We were having a barbecue…” Even as I have my own “babies” now, it’s still nice to hear your own birth story once a year. I know I’ll never forget the events leading up to and surrounding the birth of my children and I bet most moms would agree.

This past Saturday evening we celebrated by going to dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant, Tin Fish, near our home. It’s an upscale venue located on the Jefferson Bay Marina on the edge of Lake Saint Claire.

My Boys
Silly, Handsome & Smart

Before we were even shown to our table the boys were in rare form. Perhaps it was the excitement of going to a new place, the smell of the water, or the wonderfully funky decor. Maybe they realized that this was not your run-of-the-mill chain restaurant and that people were actually dressed up. All I knew was that by the time we sat down, mamma needed a drink!

Happy Birthday to Me!
Blue Curacao Fish Bowl

I must admit I’m no stranger to the occasional social / celebratory cocktail, but I wasn’t expecting the behemoth, ‘Blue Curacao Fish Bowl’ literally came in a fish bowl!!! I asked if I could take the bowl home as a souvenir if I finished the whole thing. Our lovely waiter agreed to look the other way if my purse could contain the monster. Unfortunately, I hadn’t come prepared 😦

Once safely back home, I doodled for a while using the art app: ArtSetPro which I learned about from a fellow artist on the WordPress Reader. Thank you for sharing! This digital art world is so new to me but here are a few things I already love about it:

  1. No wasted paints and other supplies
  2. Back-up/undo option
  3. Erase function
  4. Portability
  5. No clean-up
  6. Incorporation of photos
  7. Seemingly endless possibilities

What Are You Looking At?

Animals, JenArt, Pen & Ink

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.


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


Figure & Portrait, JenArt, Pen & Ink, People

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.


The Face

JenArt, Life, Pen & Ink, People

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

The Jacket

JenArt, Pen & Ink
The Jacket
9″ x 12″ Pen & Ink on Bristol Board Adapted from Photograph

Closely related to Pointillism is the art of Stippling; using small dots to convey the form. Stippling is done with ink and specialty pens with various size tips to allow for different size dots. For finer detail, you use the smallest opening and space the dots farther apart.  For dark and dense areas, you use the larger pen tip and place the dots closer together.  Stippling may be done using different color ink. Sometimes an artist may add color with colored pencil after the ink has dried.