Cryptic Cards by Immy Smith

When I received this deck and book the artist included an extra image and some business cards with cards from the deck on the reverse, so I immediately wanted to get them framed. The lighter mat on top is a bit lighter than in the picture, but you get the idea. This is going on the wall near the wardrobes I keep all my cards in, so I can be surrounded by delightful things.

CrypticCards_ImmySmith

The deck and book are wonderful, I am so glad that after having this on and off my wish list, I bought it.

The Queen of Hearts blurb from the book:

“Queen of Hearts – Sciartist’s bat moth & small insomniac moth
(Ascalapha scientartifex & Utetheisa insomnia)

These species illustrate the diversity of form found in the Erebidae family, which tiger moths are now part of. They represent me; a little itinerant insomniac, and sciart polymath. I’m really very proud of these cards.”

As you can see, Immy has a sense of humour. Although the moths are real ones, she has taken liberties in the nomenclature and the descriptions. This is the reason I bought the book, so that I could read all these stories and get the Latin genus and see the plays on words. The genus is true, the rest isn’t, but you can still explore the various moths and see her gorgeous artwork.

Up creative insomniacs!!

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Art, Art, and Books About Art, and Art Things

I have been away in my mind sewing and dreaming about fabric and patterns for nightwear. I’ve also been waiting for mail from the UK that seemed to have gone, vanished into the ether of Canada Customs or Canada Post.

Today, my Art Oracles deck finally arrived from Book Depository, and in perfect condition considering it has been travelling since August 31st.

ArtOracles_sm

I was expecting a cheap tuck box but it came in a heavy case with a beautiful textured cover. The cards are wonderfully large and the little booklet lists each of the fifty artist in chronological order rather than alphabetical, which is different. There are snippets of quotes on each card and then a write-up with other information on the artist in the booklet.

Very well done!

ArtOracles_Close

A new card deck is a cheery thing. Coincidentally, I just borrowed a comprehensive biography of Willem de Kooning from the library. This should tie in nicely with this new deck and the many modern artists it features.

As well, I’ve bought some new sketchbooks with toned paper and hope to do some work with 100 new sketch prompts on my Manner and Material blog.

deKooningBio

You’ve got to have plans, miles and miles and miles of plans for creativity.

 

 

 

Greeks, Illusion, and the 2 of Clubs

Today I am using a playing card deck published by Y & B Associates in New York in 1997. This one is Illusions in Art: Deck 1 – Classics. I went to a lot of trouble to obtain various illusions decks from this publisher back in the day when Internet ordering was not as easy, and I always pick up some new idea or tidbit of knowledge from them.

2 OF CLUBS – GREEK PARTHENON, ATHENS, ca 1438 B.C.

2Clubs_Parthenon

The columns on the Parthenon look nice and straight and evenly spaced, except they are not. Because of the way the human eye sees things and the attendant optical distortions, the columns are slightly thicker in the middle, and the middle columns are spaced wider apart so that when viewed from a distance, it all looks symmetrical and correct.

Vitruvius, who was a Roman architect and civil engineer from the first century A.D., came up with the theory that the Greeks, knowing of these optical illusions, factored in these slightly altered dimensions when building the Parthenon. The elements on the facade tilt outward a bit and the columns tilt inward by about 2 inches, which again supposedly relates to in-built counter-perspective. I’m not sure about that one, maybe the building is just old and has moved? But it is certain the columns were built with bulges and odd spacing and the Greeks had been doing such things for a hundred years or more before the Parthenon was built, and they skewed dimensions inside the building as well for the same reason.

And I learned this from a playing card, having missed the special about the Parthenon on the PBS NOVA series which explained some of this. Vitruvius I know from Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man which was based on notes on human dimensions by Vitruvius.

So, that came together into a good little study.

 

 

It’s Art, It’s Cards, It’s Creativity, It’s Fabulous

Not that I was browsing or anything, but I like to keep my eye on new playing card decks or similar quirky card decks. Many of these are only available from Kickstarter or private sites that I don’t like to buy from. These caught my eye because the cards feature three of my favourite things, illustrations/caricatures of real people, art history, and quotes. It is available at Book Depository and Amazon in the States as well as the publisher’s site, Laurence King Publishing. Well done Mr. King for instigating a wonderful project and making it available to us. I ordered it immediately.

Art Oracles: Creative & Life Inspiration from Great Artists is written by Katya Tylevich and illustrated by Mikkel Sommer and the 50-card deck was just published in August 2017. This is supposed to be a tarot-inspired game, and I’m not sure how that works but even single cards can be inspiring. Here is an example of a card featuring Piet Mondrian with a few choice words.

ArtOraclesSample

I spot Jean-Michel Basquiat on the cover, I’ll have to haul out my copy of Gray’s Anatomy and show him I bought his favourite book. Then I can show him that patella and poem inspired by a tiny illustration in the book. Inspiration lies everywhere!

What I also liked is that the author chose people who were unique artists and did work that was fresh and different. That’s a good quality for igniting and firing up the creativity of others. I often speak of creativity here and on my other blogs because it lives in my mind constantly, and I like a good card deck that fuels creativity and causes me to learn and look things up.

Thank you Katya and Mikkel for stimulating us all with your work; I look forward to exploring your deck. This is an understatement given my joy in discovering this deck.

Oh, they’ve got Charles and Ray Eames too and William Blake naked in his garden…! You guys!!!!

 

 

Database in Medieval Blue

medievaltarot

Guido Zibordi Marchesi illustrated the Medieval Tarot that I am discussing today, as well as the Giotto Tarot, one of my first and favourite decks, and the Bruegel Tarot which illustrates many of the Netherlandish Proverbs. The only deck of his that I don’t have is the Michelangelo Tarot.

He does beautiful architectural illustrations and models as well as paintings, and you can see how meticulous in detail and research he is by viewing his biography and a list of his various exhibits. These sites are in Italian but you can use Google Translate to get the gist of them. He is a real master of words and art, no wonder he is one of my favourite Lo Scarabeo illustrators.

http://www.guidozibordimarchesi.it/biografia/

http://www.guidozibordimarchesi.it/mostre/

For me, I look at an artist like this, and it drives me to purchase decks that an artist has spent some time researching and creating. Lo Scarabeo decks usually excel at this, I have great respect for that attitude.

What really attracted me to the deck was the blue skies and backgrounds, so reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts which are an interest of mine. Ultramarine in those days was made from lapis lazuli, and Guido Zibordi Marchesi captures that feel of the Middle Ages in these colours. This deck was published in 2007 and still holds up for me, a gem of people and colour, initiating a grand old browse through my many books about illuminated manuscripts.

medievaltarot_samples

The Tower card is very like castles depicted in illuminated manuscripts, particularly the castle of the Duc Jean de Berry in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry where his castle is seen on the calendar for September.

tresrichesberry_september

You can see more examples from the book here.

As examples, two other 15th century manuscripts that have the style and colours that perhaps inspired this deck are The Bedford Hours, made for John, Duke of Bedford, and the Bouquechardière Chronicle by Jean de Courcy, also known as Chronique de la Bouquechardière.

The descriptions for the deck are priceless:

“A medieval inspiration: The Art of Memory is one of the greatest secrets handed down by alchemists and medieval sorcerers. The later Middle Ages have a brighter aspect, marked by the rebirth of the arts, philosophy, and sciences. It is the second period that inspired Guido Zibordi to paint the Medieval Tarot. These 78 cards, in fact, recall the magnificence of the princely courts and pastimes of the courtiers, the battles of the Crusades, the solitary study of philosophers and discussions of theologians, the daily work and beliefs of the common people.

This is not, however, a commemorative or historical deck. On the contrary, the Medieval Tarot contains the spirit of Ars memorandi, a memory system passed down in the schools aimed at developing intellectual qualities and spiritual virtues. The Ars memorandi, which attributed an exemplary value to images, without a doubt traces the first Tarot decks back to its origin, a “wordless book” that taught the rules of true nobility, that of the intellect and soul.

Today like in the past, simple yet profound rules let each individual follow a path of improvement and reach the top of an invisible ladder uniting the material world with the spiritual dimension.”

knightswords_medieval

One of the reasons I’ve been keen on decks for 16 years is the spiritual dimension described above, the ideal of archetype and Medieval pageantry, lush, saturated colour steeped in history, and the human world absorbing and reflecting it.

How could you resist the courtly ideal of it all?

The Rustle of Silk in Light

Another beautiful postcard from across the pond, this time received this year.

The Hon. Lady Baillie and her daughters, Susan and Pauline at Leeds Castle, Kent
by Etienne Drain 1947 © Leeds Castle Foundation

BaillieFamily_LeedsCastle

What I love about this is the light, the way you can almost feel the light coming through those spectacular windows, and washing over the viewer too.

Lady Baillie looks like she is wearing pleated silk chiffon and the girl in the blue dress must be wearing velvet. The girl on the right must be wearing raw silk. The whole thing is suffused with light and palpable texture, and then streams out over the lake into the green.

The View From The Window
by Ronald Stuart Thomas

Like a painting it is set before one,
But less brittle, ageless; these colours
Are renewed daily with variations
Of light and distance that no painter
Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
A black mood; but gold at evening
To cheer the heart. All through history
The great brush has not rested,
Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
Looking coolly, or, as we now,
through the tears’ lenses, ever saw
This work and it was not finished?

 

 

 

Database Mystics, Poets, and Darn Fine Artists

I notice that Penelope Cline has published her first full tarot deck, the Liminal Tarot, which reminded me of the one deck of hers I own.

That sort of expensive deck is well out of my price range these days but I bought her first deck The Mystic Rubaiyat, and because of the currency exchange and extra tax and administration fees when it came into Canada, it cost me $180 CAD. I used money from a settlement at my old job to pay for it, as it’s not the sort of thing I could afford regularly. I went through hell at that job, I figured I would get something tangible and uplifting from it.

I believe she still has copies of it available. For me, this is the epitome of her watercolour style and approach to art and literature. As she has mentioned on forums, some of these cards are very tarot-like, or at least like some of the Majors.

I wanted to get her Wild Green Chagallian Tarot which is a Majors-only deck and her Pen Tarot but could never afford them. However, Penelope did point me to a good biography of Chagall which I ordered in from the library and greatly enjoyed. I never really got Chagall until I saw Penelope’s deck and read the biography by Jackie Wullschlager.

It’s always worth talking to the artist and exploring, even if you can’t buy their deck!

MysticRubaiyat

“The Mystic Rubaiyat is a set of seventy-five cards created to illustrate the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s “translation” into English of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, part of a collection of four-line verses that survive from eleventh-century Persia.

The words of the appropriate quatrain appear below every illustration and in each of the decorated doorways, providing for a two-fold key to meditation.”

MysticRubaiyatBack

Apart from Penelope’s artwork, I bought this because my favourite Uncle used to recite passages from this particular Fitzgerald translation. I have copy 2/100 which rather astounds me as I’m generally not in on trends at the beginning, nor do I have money to buy limited editions, but I had that money from the job from hell and I used it wisely. The pleasant reverberations from this deck after a horrible few years are what I remember, and that’s as it should be.

This comes in presentation box with ribbon and a 17-page booklet and was released in 2007. I assume I bought it in that year; I remember writing my Uncle and telling him about the deck and he died early in 2009, so I just got it in time. It’s one of the finest things I own, simply because the artist has her own way and interests and they shine in her decks.

I’ve used it here if you want to see more cards.

Pleasant reverberations; the hand of the artist; the intellect and knowledge of the artist; shimmering colour and light; words and poetry. FINE, very fine.