The Centre For Creative Arts

Culture Days » Idea File for Schools


Make Artist Trading Cards

What are Artist Trading Cards? Artist Trading Cards (ATC) are small 2-1⁄2 x 3 1⁄2 inches or 64 x 89mm miniature works of art. They are hand made and usually one of a kind or made in small editions. Anyone can make them, using cardstock and any kinds of materials you wish. The idea is that these cards are made to trade with other artists in person, either at a Trading Session or when you meet other ATC artists. ATC should never be sold, only traded for other ATCs.


The concept of Artist Trading Cards began in Zürich by artist m. vänci stirnemann. In May 1997, stirnemann held a gallery showing of 1,200 cards at the & text bookstore in Zürich, Switzerland, where he collaborated with artists Cat Schick and Gido Dietrich. Visitors who attended the show were told that if they wished to have one of the cards they must bring one of their own creations to trade for it. Canadian Don Mabie (a.k.a. Chuck Stake) attended the first trading session in Zürich and brought the first North American Artist Trading Card Session to Calgary in 1997 (in collaboration with stirnemann) at The New Gallery in Calgary, Alberta. Monthly trading session are held at The New Gallery where as many as 75 people have attended. Regular trading sessions are held all over North America at various art galleries, schools and colleges. trading-cards/

What to Do
  • Cut cardstock to size (2 1⁄2 inch x 3 1⁄2 inch or 64mm x 89mm)
  • Explain to class what Artist Trading Cards are. You can give students a theme if you wish. You could incorporate themes that the students are learning about.
  • Set out supplies. These can include markers, crayons, paint, stamps, and stickers, anything that can be used to create art. -Let the students create their cards.
  • Display cards for all to see, either a few minutes for students to admire their work or a longer display in the school.
  • When the display is finished, encourage students to trade cards with each other or to bring them down to Muskaseepi Park on Saturday, September 18, during Alberta Arts Days, to trade at the Artist Trading Card Tent.

Pointillism Project

Pointillism is a technique that relies on the eye to mix colors. Instead of mixing colors together on the palette then applying it to the canvas, dots of pure color are placed close together on the canvas and we see new colors as the dots “combine” optically. Example: Red and yellow dots are placed close together; when we step back our eyes see it as orange. The style is often associated to the work of artists during the 1880’s.
Well-known pointillist artists include:

  • Georges-Pierre Seurat
  • Paul Signac
  • Henri-Edmond Cross
  • John Roy
  • Maximilien Luce
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Theo van Rysselberghe
  • Chuck Close
  • Georges Lemmen

Gather information on artists who used pointillism in their work. Gather books or print images from the Internet of their work. Discuss what pointillism is, how optical color mixing works and the different artists associated with it. Then let the students try their hands at it.

  • Materials can include paint, pencil crayons, crayons, markers and other similar mark making tools.
  • Younger children may have more success using cotton buds, chopsticks or corks dipped in paint or even finger painting. Use a separate cotton bud/cork/etc. for each color.
  • Lightly draw outlines of an image on paper with a pencil.
  • Fill in the image by dotting of different colors, allowing the colors to mix optically rather than physically.


Share the fun of mosaics with your students.

  • Find images of mosaic art. There are many examples, share a variety from different times: Early Christian, Mediaeval Rome and Italy, Byzantine, European, Renaissance, Baroque, Middle Eastern, Islamic and Modern Mosaics.

There are many classroom friendly alternatives to the more costly and time consuming glass and ceramic mosaics. These include:

  • Bean and lentil mosaics:
    use white or tacky glue to glue beans and lentils to cardboard or to shaped surfaces like cans to create pencil holders. Kids can make up images or can make mandala like designs.
  • Dried pasta mosaics:
    These are created in the same manner as the bean and lentil mosaics. The completed and fully dried pieces can be painted.
  • Paper Mosaics:
    Have the students draw outlines on a piece of paper and use either torn construction paper or cut paper squares to fill the image. Torn paper bits can be overlapped and glued down. Cut paper squares should be glued one at a time with space left between the pieces to look like the grout left between tiles. Students could also use paper cut from magazines.



Invite an artist to the classroom

Have a guest artist come into the classroom to talk about being an artist, what it involves, what they do and how they became an artist. Consider doing a demonstration or a project with the students. Consider Grande Prairie artists involved with dance, design, visual art, theatre, music and writing. Contact local arts organizations such as those above for suggestions.

Have an Arts Career Day and invite people who have arts related careers in to speak about their jobs.

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts has a grant that may cover up to 75% of artist fees for schools wishing to have a visiting artist.

Another idea is to learn about Alberta Artists. Pick an Alberta Artist and find images and information about them to share with the students.

Older students could choose an artist to research and do a short presentation.



Grande Prairie has many great places to experience culture in Grande Prairie. Arrange a field trip for your class to explore one:

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