31 Days Of Halloween–Day 6

Good Morning!  I have set myself the challenge of coming up with a new art/craft/writing project for each day of the month of October, all of them celebrating the spooky vibe that permeates my favorite month. I’m also celebrating my favorite black cat, Soda Pop, who is the disgruntled main character in my new children’s book “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here.

This is the first “weekend edition” of our Halloween creativity, and I think this one will be a 2 part-er. Today is a fun activity, very portable for kids and adults alike, and one that is extremely popular in art circles. Tomorrow will be how I “package” that activity in a pretty way that makes it accessible to all the dwellers in our home, as well as the folks who visit us. So, let’s get started with Art Trading Cards!

Little Art is AWESOME!

An Art Trading Card, or ATC, is a miniature piece of art, sized 2.5″x3.5″, (the size of traditional sports cards) done with any medium–paint, pencil, collage, pastel, ink, etc.–made specifically to trade with other artists. I know they are sellable, but the Zen of the idea is an exchange of creativity between two people. And, as it so happens, I have an ATC “station” in my home, where my kids and myself display our cards, and there are supplies for making MORE cards. That way, when a visitor comes in, if they want a card, they are welcome to take it for their own, as long as they then replace it with a card of their own creation. It’s a lot of fun to encourage people that maybe don’t consider themselves “arty” to see what they come up with. Today, the focus is on the cards, however. Tomorrow, we will talk about our ATC Station.

First off, I start by chopping up cardstock, tagboard, or heavy art paper into 2.5″x3.5″ rectangles. These are the ATCs.  You may also visit an art supply store–one of my favorite is Dickblick.com and  purchase ATCs ready made, but my way is infinitely cheaper, and I get my choice of papers. Then, I use whatever medium I like (right now, I seem to be favoring pencil and fine tip markers) to create whatever images I like, although currently, we are doing Halloween-themed art. The cool thing about ATCs is that they take very little time to complete, you don’t need a huge work area or lots of supplies, they are totally portable, and they are completely CHARMING finished pieces you share with others.

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of mass-produced items that have no purpose but to fill space in our lives and in our homes–these things we purchase without thinking off of store shelves that really mean nothing, and have absolutely no “soul”. Handmade is beautiful. It is precious. It is truly one of a kind. Perhaps, in today’s plasticized, factory made world, it is the ONLY thing that is truly valuable. Remember what it is like to receive a handmade drawing from a child? The light in that child’s eyes as you take it from them, this piece that they made with chubby fingers and crayons? ATCs make that accessible for EVERYONE.

So, here are some sample ATCs that we are doing in our home right now, all of them Halloween-themed. Most of them are done with fine tipped art markers, some of them collage. On the back, make sure you put the title of the piece, the name of the artist, the date, and any other fun information (like a positive message or even a Halloween haiku?) to make it a “real” trading card! This is such a simple thing, such an easy way to bring art into your life. It is ALSO extremely easy to put together an ATC kit that fits in a purse or backpack, giving children and adults something to do when they are out and about in the world with some downtime–like in a restaurant waiting for a meal, or on a long car trip.

Our medium for these cards...

Try this activity at home—this giving and receiving of tiny art pieces. EVERYONE can participate, and it can go a long way towards swaying the culture in your home towards the hands-on end of the spectrum and away from mass-market, electronic, television-watching, video game playing, mindless treadmill type of life that many of us find ourselves in (myself and my family INCLUDED!)

Tomorrow, I will show you how to set up your own ATC Station in your house–one that looks stylish and allows for the easy trade of art back and forth between family members and visitors alike!  And take pictures of your own ATCs and post them on Bug Summer’s Facebook page here! Have a great day, and do something creative with a child!