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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Cherry Blossoms Club Me

5 OF CLUBS – WASHINGTON, D.C.
Capital of the United States
In spring, thousands of cherry trees bloom in the nation’s capital.

5Clubs_WashingtonDC

Well isn’t that pretty? This is a lovely illustration and she’s done a true transformation with the suit symbols in their conventional places.

I thought we had a cherry tree out in the front yard, but it turned out to be a full apple tree. We have three apples on it this year.

Maybe this card is about seeing things that may not be there, or missing things that are? How many people bustle about and forget to notice the cherry trees in bloom?

 

 

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.

 

 

I Exist, Therefore I Scan Freely Wearing a Bowler Hat

I’ve been playing around today examining my new Existentialist Playing Cards or Exist Playing Cards as is printed on the title card. The bowler hat is a reference to Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot which I studied in high school but missed the reference here until I looked it up, thinking instead that it might refer to a René Magritte painting which depicts a man with a bowler hat. Beckett features in the Clubs suit in caricature and in several quotes on the Clubs pips.

ExistPlayingCardssm

I scanned several more cards for my database but here is a sample of a few cards and the back with numerous bowler hats.

ExistPlayingCards2

The colours are wonderful in this, I can see where you could pick a card or two and use them as impetus for artwork. Yes, Camus would like you to use a bunch of gold green shades and paint a reptile. Of course he does. I think Rita put a lot of thought into the organization of this and the stream of colour families in each suit.

The Court Cards have caricatures of the three philosophers quoted in the pip cards with a name tag on each that says “Hello my name is ______”, and each has an additional famous quote in a speech ballon.

The pip cards have quotations on them from Ace to Ten:

SPADES: Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Jaspers.
HEARTS: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Gabriel Marcel.
CLUBS: Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka.
DIAMONDS: Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Tillich, Martin Heidegger.

Existentialists brought in emotion and the whole human experience rather than just reason and rationality to philosophy. They felt conventional philosophy was too distanced and abstract from human experience. They were very, very big on being free and authentic.

And wearing bowler hats.

 

 

Exotic Birdbrains and Drop Caps

Not much doing today, I finished this jigsaw puzzle of the Exotic Birds Playing Cards which are from the Heritage Playing Card Company. Image courtesy of the Somerville site.

ExoticBirds_sm

I also painted three biggish drop caps for a calligraphy project. A pen pal of mine is sending me a pen in the mail which should be a suitable size for the calligraphy. The pen I have has a nib that’s a bit too wide for the scale. I used my new softcover Zeta sketchbook for the drop caps and that went well using pen and ink, gouache and watercolour pencils.

My Existential Playing Cards have shipped. Yay!

The Existential Existence

Some people might wonder at my fondness for doing jigsaws of interesting card decks. What I like about it is that it can cement in my mind what I like. I do a jigsaw of the latest and greatest super new-fangled secrets of the universe deck and see how I like it.

Meandering around this month, I finally bought a playing card deck that I’ve had on my wish list forever, The Existential Playing Cards by Rita Orlov Rosenfeld. Looking at new decks, fiddling with puzzles of new decks, I realized that I nearly let this beauty get away. Sometimes the $20 deck gets shoved to the wish list as you reach for the latest and greatest shiny minty pizazzling gotta-have thing. You know, the thing you regret spending $97 on that is a good deck but not a pizazzling gotta-have deck after all.

I thought this was out-of-print and had a drop of the heart. Actually Etsy had cancelled the listing (I guess it timed out) without informing the seller and my note to her wondering where the deck had gone made her create a new listing. So I WAS able to buy it.

I am quite pleased.

ExistentialPlayingCardsJig

Hell is other people who don’t appreciate a fine playing card deck: philosophy reference #642.7

 

 

 

Gothic Tree is a Pain

I barely managed to get this jigsaw done of the Jeu Gothique playing cards. I got the image for this from Roddy Somerville’s Playing Card Sales site. I hope Mr. Somerville is well, he had such a passion and interest in cards and offered so many great decks on his site. Many, many of my most interesting playing cards are from him.

JeuGothiqueJig

The reason I can’t use the computer much is that I’m painting my tree in the hall. I managed to draw it in chalk on Friday, then on Saturday I managed to paint the lower 2/3 of it before having to stop for pain.

Today is Sunday and after eating and taking some aspirin, I’m strapping on my tendon cuff and s-l-o-w-l-y going to finish the top so that one whole coat is completed. I hope so much that I don’t hurt my shoulder. I just want to complete one coat, maybe 45 minutes work, and then I’ll leave it for the day and hopefully be able to put a second coat on half of it tomorrow, and half the next day, and thus finish it.

I am very pleased with it so far, but the pain is getting to me and I have to manage it in increments so I don’t end up spending weeks not being able to do anything.

TreeHall_sm

Happy Sunday!