LAKE WYLIE -- For Carol Butler, turns out playing with the queen of hearts is really smart.
Butler, an artist of multiple media living along Crowders Creek, recently took part in the Art in Hand project, creating a custom deck of playing cards along with 53 other Charlotte-area artists. Original artwork creating each card will be sold to aid area art groups and nonprofits, and reprinted to promote the Charlotte art scene.
"It's such a great way to promote Charlotte," said Dione Goyette, project director. "It's a way for Charlotte to show the world that it is an artistic place and not just a banking town."
All types of art and styles of artists were used, including fabric art, photography, painting and graphic design. Butler, a painter and photographer who also creates mixed media pieces, jumped at the project.
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"I don't think you'd talk to a single artist who hasn't thought about doing a deck of cards," Butler said. "It gets to be a lot of work doing it by yourself."
Goyette found artists based on artist lists and past work, then assigned them each a card within the deck, including jokers.
"Since I was so fast in responding, I got to pick," Butler said. "I decided I had to have the queen of hearts, and they let me have her."
Butler didn't want the Alice in Wonderland version, so she researched the queen before selecting numerous images pertaining to love and home. Each character or scenic device has a specific purpose, from a turtle "who carries his home wherever he goes" to water, suggesting the "fluidity of life and love."
"It was supposed to be representative of the type of art that we do, but still be a playing card," Butler said. "I hope I'm a person who's a good example of someone who uses her creativity to the max."
Some ground rules applied, like the standard 8- by 10-inch size and the blank left corner for use in identifying the card. Otherwise, the artists were allowed to do what they do best.
"They were so well thought out and so well rendered," Goyette said. "I was really proud of the artists for putting so much effort into them. It's all come together in a really magical way."
For her piece, Butler used a digital underlay and an overlay "with real paint." She tried to keep it primary and simplistic, true to the common playing card picture in her mind. The queen took two weeks to complete, and will be viewed and put up for sale along with her deckmates during the next few months.
Butler hopes the effort will help show more people what she can do artistically, mixing technology and artistry to create custom pieces fitting just about any need or whim.
"I can make it to fit on the side of a bus or I can put it on the back of a book," Butler said. "That's opened a lot of doors for me."
Proceeds from the art auction and deck sales will benefit Creative Art Exchange and Children's Art Project in Cornelius, N.C. For more information on the card project, visit artinhandcards.com. For more on Carol Butler, visit carolkbutler.com.
Want to see the art?
April 7-30, preview event at So Alive Gallery, 108 S. Main St., Davidson
May 4-29, main show at Creative Art Exchange, 19725 Oak St., Cornelius
May 16, launch party and art auction, 6-9 p.m. at Creative Art Exchange
June 1-30, final show and sale at Artworks On Main, 165 N. Main St., Mooresville
June 12, Art Crawl Reception 6-8 p.m. at Artworks on Main, Mooresville