It's June 3 and the uber-fabulous Index-Card-a-Day (ICAD) challenge, created and hosted by the equally fabulous Tammy Garcia at Daisy Yellow, is already underway. I've participated in ICAD three times. In 2011, I shunned index cards all together, pre-cut pieces of watercolor paper, and created a strict schedule of themes for each week. That "index card snobbery" set me up for disaster because I now faced an intimidating "precious" surface and self-imposed rules that strangled my creativity. I completed a measly 18 cards that first year. I felt like a complete failure.
In 2012, I gave ICAD another shot and this time...mission accomplished! I followed the challenge exactly, creating cards in small series, only occasionally utilizing the multitude of prompts provided. Then in 2013, I tried again and created 26 cards. I didn't feel so bad about not completing the challenge as I loved the cards I did create and I participated as much as I could given a heavy show prep schedule. Almost all of the index card art I created in those three years has since been color-copied or cropped to reuse in subsequent journaling work.
The summer of 2014 was lost to major foot surgery so here I am: ICAD 2015. I've gone back and forth about participating this year. On one hand, I'm intensely focused on preparing for late summer and early fall shows. It is extremely difficult to paint when I'm teaching (simply no energy) so summer break is prime time at the easel. On the other hand, index card art is a valuable image resource for journaling and my stash of completed cards is getting sparse. For me, ICAD isn't really about developing a daily art habit (already have that) or completing a challenge. I just really love the instantly available bits of art when I'm journaling in a hurry. What to do?
My solution once again diverges a bit from the ICAD guidelines in that I'm using a few other things besides index cards. I gathered a variety of cards: all are approximately index card weight and with a few exceptions, all pieces meet the 4 x 6-inch requirement. From my stash I pulled old bingo cards, used and new library cards, playing cards, photo organization cards (come in photo boxes,) various types of flashcards, new and vintage index cards, junk mail inserts, and vintage recipe cards (typewritten recipes on very old index cards.) I wanted to work with cards that had a little of type or imagery to peek through my work.
My plan is to pull 7 cards each week and to keep those cards on my studio table while I paint or journal. At the end of the week, I'll either complete the cards somehow by adding a focal point, clipped words, stamping, washi tape, and/or paper scraps OR I'll just leave the cards as is if I've created a background I love too much to cover up. I'm hoping that this way, ICAD can be completed as a complementary practice while I focus on painting as opposed to being a project that requires lots of specific attention.
Keep in mind that ICAD doesn't really have to take up that much time for most people and cards can be as simple or complex as desired. Beyond the substrate and size requirements, there's really no rules. I'm just at a place in show prep where I need to keep my eyes on the prize and get enough pieces completed to make a decent-looking display. My studio is already like a carnival midway, all sorts of shiny, tempting projects and supplies beckoning "Play with me!" Hopefully, this approach to ICAD 2015 will work for me.