The ICAD Circle

Announcing the ICAD Circle! This is something that I have been brainstorming off and on, for two years! How to bring more depth to the experience? How to more personally support folks doing the challenge? How to add more value to the experience? So with that goal in mind, I've been building a series of inspirational & instructional materials.

Yup! Bonus content galore. 

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced ICADian, the Circle will definitely deepen your creative experience. The charming little card is just the start. Where can you take it? How do you stay motivated? Where do you find ideas? How can you take an idea and explore it in a series? How can you take a concept and expand upon it? How do you develop experiments to pursue? 

You can work on your index card art in any way you wish - follow the prompts {same prompts as the regular ICAD Challenge},  do a series, work in any medium or combination thereof. I will NOT change that in the least. What I will do is add inspiration, ideas & tutorials that you can use to spark your own creative work. So ICAD is still YOUR challenge to work as you wish. 

So it's not a workshop, not not a step-by-step version of the challenge. The Circle will be simple and real. I believe that this will make the challenge experience more personal and meaningful for you. 

Brand new for the 2016 ICAD Season? The ICAD Circle. With bonus content to enhance your creative experience, a deeper dive into the challenge. 

So here's what you get:

- Access to a private ICAD Circle Facebook discussion group where you can share your index card artwork and participate in discussions and Q&A. A smaller, more intimate ICAD experience. 

- Ten (10) video tutorials that you can apply to index cards and mixed media art journal pages. That's about one tutorial each week. 

- Access to a private website with 61 days of inspiration & ideas. Content will vary. Some days you'll find a quote or a curated list of inspiring articles, other days a discussion about a particular art material, a technique prompt, photographs, and {this is a maybe} a few audio recordings to kick-start your endeavors.

- You'll access Circle resources from a private website. Access will be available 24/7. So on June 1, you'll find the first section; June 2, the next section, etc. If you join the Circle after June 1, you'll see everything available to that date. 

The FB group for the Circle opens Monday May 23 at about 5pm CST. The ICAD Circle resources on the private website will be available May 27 - September 30, 2016. Please note the dates! It will start slowly and build as the challenge builds. Then you'll have an extra few months to explore the materials. I am hoping that this will make the challenge a bit more engaging and meaningful!

And it will take a bit of the overwhelm out of ICAD. Because it can really be "chaotic" as we dig in. It is my goal to make the Circle a warm, friendly, welcoming environment. I hope you'll join me.

To register, click the pink button below. This will take you to PayPal. After payment is sorted, please allow 48 hours for me to process your registration and send login/password information.

Registration Information. Registration for the Circle is officially open. There's an early bird special of $49, {save $12 USD} for those registering before May 27. Due to the nature of the challenge, there will be a fairly short registration window; registration closes June 15. 


The 6th annual challenge starts June 1, 2016.
while you are waiting
grab a journal and start
the Prompt60 Prompts
or the Muse30 Prompts

The Official List of Frequently Asked Questions
The 2016 Index-Card-a-Day Challenge
June 1 to July 31, 2016

The challenge is about the DOING and not the
It is the process of creating each day that matters.

An annual creative challenge
Facilitated by Daisy Yellow
Buy a pack of index cards
♥ draw ♥ doodle ♥ write ♥ collage ♥
♥ paint ♥ haiku ♥ stamp ♥ stitch ♥
61 DAYS : 61 CARDS

What on earth is ICAD?

Starting June 1, Create something on a 3x5" index card every day for 61 days. Note your card number [ICAD #1, ICAD #2...] on the reverse of each card to The day YOU start is your official ICAD #1. Motto: You do not need to catch up, just start.

The idea is not to multi-task with 99 other things that you are doing, to check the box, to halfheartedly commit. Whether you are a botanist, a physical therapist, a non-fiction writer, a Japanese language tutor, a TV reporter, a java programmer or an oil painter, you can absolutely benefit from the challenge. You do not to consider yourself an "artist" to participate. I am a self-taught artist, so I do not have any sort of magic foundation in the arts. My background is actually in finance and accounting. And yes, I am one of those people who thinks that everyone is an artist. I will tell you that this is a totally do-able challenge. I've done it for 5 years in a row. It requires work and commitment. But it will be worth it!

Do we have to use index cards?

YES. Simple materials push you to think in new ways. Index cards are without a doubt "not" the perfect substrate. But they are abundant, so we do not hesitate to pitch them when the work turns into a catastrophe! Get index cards. They can be lined, gridded, plain, neon or dividers or rolodex cards. Most challengers use 3x5" or 4x6" index cards or the metric equivalent thereof. The maximum size for the challenge is 4x6". And yes, gotta be index cards. Not nice paper cut to size. That misses the entire point. We are working with a basic index card.

What do we do with our index cards?

This is up to you. Anything goes. Make flash cards to teach yourself Russian. Paint with acrylic paints. Drip india ink. Dye with espresso. Practice origami folds. Stitch. Sketch. Doodle. Stamp. Collage. Cut up weave the pieces back together. Write Haiku poems. Document your paint collection. 

Start brainstorming the materials, themes or techniques you'd like to explore. With a luxurious 61 individual cards to create, you've got endless possibilities. What would you like to learn? To practice? To refine? Where would you like to start? Where would you like to wind up? Anything goes, as long as an index card is your substrate and the card is a component of the design.

Set aside a small work space and think about what time of day you'll work on your card each day in June and July. Will you work on your card after dinner each evening? At lunch sitting on a park bench? 

If you are traveling, think about what you'll need to take with you and how you'll incorporate art in your travels, your family trip to the beach or business trip to Tokyo. I've traveled for several weeks during each of the past three ICAD challenges.

Practice photographing an index card with your phone or DSLR
Tips on photographing your visual artwork.

How do I keep track of what on earth is going on with ICAD?

  1. Bookmark the ICAD IndexThe index will be updated with links to prompts & challenge info in Mid-May as we ramp up to the challenge start date.
  2. Here's the home page and starting point for ICAD. It's also really pretty. 
  3. Get the blog feed in your favorite feed reader.
  4. {NEW!} Get the free printable full-page ICAD Tracker or the handy mini ICAD Tracker in 3x5" index card dimensions. Print and attach to an index card! 

How can I participate?

Share your index card creations on social media. 1000's of folks doing the challenge will do the same. All of that creates a super bunch of fun. Use tags #dyicad2016 and #icad2016

Instagram: Find me at gypsy999 on instagram
Twitter: Find me at gypsy999 on twitter
Facebook: Join the 2016 ICAD Facebook group.
Flickr: Join the Daisy Yellow Flickr group.

Can kids participate?

There's an Index-Card-a-Day: Kid Version. My daughters do the challenge each year, in their own way. Get the kids involved!

How do I let others know about ICAD?

Let folks know that you are an ICADian! Get an ICAD badge. Share it on your blog, FB page, instagram, etc. 

Inspiration & Insight & Ideas

  1. For bonus content galore, join the ICAD Circle. We'll talk about staying motivated to create, finding ideas, exploring ideas in a series, taking a concept and expanding and exploring... â˜œ new!!!
  2. Get the Zine, 101+ Ideas for Index Card Art.
  3. Start scheming and brainstorming about what you can do with an index card.
“As so often happens, the thing left undone
tires you most of all, you only feel rested
when it has been accomplished.” 
José Saramago

Are there prompts?

The prompts for each week will be posted Sundays starting May 29. There are two types of prompts.

Each week, there's a THEMATIC PROMPT  {i.e. maps or nature or pens/pencils} which is fairly broad, like a technique or medium or a general topic.

Each day, there's a TOPICAL PROMPT {i.e. cartoon, geometric, parasol, zombie}.

Historically, about 52% of challengers follow the prompts. OK I don't have the hard scientific data to back that up. But that's my guesstimate. The prompts are 100% optional, so if you like them, you can use them. Or not. 

How much does it cost?

ICAD is FREE. If you find value in the content, prompts, tutorials & challenges at Daisy Yellow, please contribute to the Tip Jar. Any amount is appreciated! Contributions are like a little pat on the back, and help support the endeavors here at Daisy Yellow. The Tip Jar is located on the top right side of the blog. Thanks bunches!!!

How Do I Register?

There's no registration required! 

What is the history of the index-card-a-day challenge?

I started index-card-a-day in 2011 on a whim. I was sitting in a cafe and wanted to draw. I happened to have a stack of index cards in the pocket of my backpack and drew some mandalas. I thought that it might be fun to draw a bunch of cards over the course of the summer.  

ICAD Trivia: 
ICAD began in 2011 with a 92 day challenge.
Since 2012 ICAD has been a 61 day challenge.

Do you need something to do as you count down the days until ICAD starts again?

While you are waiting, start the Muse30 Prompts or the Prompt60 Prompts. In mid-May, we will start doing ICAD warm-up exercises to stretch your creative thinking skills and ramp up to the challenge!

Please respect the work that I have put into developing the challenge, supporting materials & prompts. Do not copy/paste the prompts or Tammy's index cards to your blog or website or distribute in paper or electronic format without permission. The challenge is a labor of love but the content and copyright are that of Daisy Yellow.

Design, content and images © 2011-2016 Tammy Garcia.

About those Creative Prompts

131023_breathe_0002 copy.jpg

We each have a stack of cards or paper or a journal and must make a choice each day as to what on earth to do! Or to do anything at all. The reality is that it is all about choices. 

That's where prompts enter the picture! Prompts can be used literally, figuratively, specifically, sarcastically, intelligently, paradoxically, ridiculously, logically, magically or any other adverbish manner. Try using the prompt in another language, or related words, or  translating to Greek mythological figures. 

Let's face it. Some people are promptish people and some are not!

  • Some like topical prompts {subjects, focus}.
  • Some like thematic prompts {themes, mediums, materials, techniques, over-arching ideas}.
  • Some don't like prompts.
  • Some feel constrained by a prompt.
  • Some feel like a prompt gives them a goal.
  • Some use a prompt as a creative spark that leads to an idea that looks nothing like the prompt.
  • Some intertwine the prompts in a creative way.
  • Many folks ignore prompts completely. 
  • Some prefer to devise prompts for others {that's me}. 

Prompts are a smorgasbord of creative ideas. 

Do whatever you wish with the prompts. Starting points. You can take what interests you and nibble on items from your plate over the course of the week. The prompts might launch an idea for an index card or art journal page. If you are creating, that's a good thing!

What if a prompt doesn't resonate with you?

So let's take an example of a prompt that might not speak to you. Let's say the prompt is "Harry Potter" but you aren't into HP. You can use a prompt as a launching point for almost anything. Allow your mind to follow the bouncing ball {or the magic wand}. You don't need to have read Harry Potter to follow a Harry Potter prompt. Time to put on your creative thinking cap. Look at the prompt/word/phrase from different angles or perspectives. It you are stumped, look in wikipedia, a dictionary, a thesaurus, etc. for a launching point that has something to do with the prompt. For Harry Potter, look at the book cover and the blurb about the book at Goodreads or Amazon and move in the direction of magic, wizards, wands or even a big pair of geeky glasses.

Index-Card-a-Day Challenge: Kid Version!

Index cards are absolutely perfect art materials for children. And the annual index-card-a-day challenge is kid-friendly. Pop over and skim through the FAQ to get an idea of what ICAD is all about. Since the challenge began in 2011, kids have created 1000s of index cards! My daughters have participated in their own way each year. 

Kids are welcome to participate. 

It is the act of creating {creative thinking, creative work} that matters. So cheer on your kids, your class, your grandkids, but please relax the requirement to finish one card per day. I bet you will find that kids prefer to work on their index card art in batches or series. They get on a creative roll and just keep going. Other days, they are busy making stuff with LEGOs and don't want to stop to do art. 

The best thing that you can do? Be a role model. Let the kids see you in the act of creating:) Let them see you smile as you work, happy with your experiments and happy with your cards. Art is joy!

The most important advice for you is that children's art is their own art. Let kids do what they want to do without trying to micro-manage.

Tell them about the project, let them see you doing art, make a variety of materials available to them, and see what happens.

Art materials for Index-Card-a-Day

  1. Stacks of index cards. Mix-it-up with lined, unlined, gridded, neon, dividers, etc. 
  2. Cups overflowing with markers. 
  3. Boxes of sharpened colored pencils. 
  4. Mugs of pencils. 
  5. Erasers. 
  6. Pencil sharpener. 
  7. Stapler. 
  8. Glue stick. 
  9. Tape. Washi tape. 
  10. Magazines. 
  11. Stencils, ruler, protractor. 
  12. Rubber stamps, stamping ink, alphabet stamps. 
  13. Kid scissors. 
120731_stamp_0001 copy.jpg

Tips for doing the ICAD Challenge with Kids & Teens:

  • Let kids have the freedom to do what they want on their cards. If they want to get messy, protect your table and the floor around the work space and provide old t-shirts. My kids started painting with craft acrylics when they were about two. 
  • Remove the requirement that kids create one card each day. Kids like to do the challenge in batches, like a bunch today, a bunch in a few days, etc. That's cool!!!
  • Focus on the act of creating - the PROCESS - the experience - not the beauty of the FINISHED PRODUCT. 
  • Sometimes kids are hard on themselves {an errant line, an eraser mark, oh my!} so be gentle.
  • A snack and/or music can alter the mood of the day. Jelly beans go quite well with index card art. 
  • If the challenge coincides with a vacation or summer break for your family, bring along materials to draw/doodle in hotel rooms, at the beach, on a plane, etc. Many of our cards are created "on the road" each summer.
  • If the child doesn't have 61 cards at the end of July, celebrate the work no matter what! "Look at all of these cool airplane drawings! What a wide variety of colors + shapes, Jaynee!" Take a look at all of the cards on a dining table or large work surface.

Here's how my kids do the ICAD challenge.

  • A big-picture goal of creating 61 cards over the course of June & July has worked for my own kids, who have participated since the challenge began! They are now 14 and 16 and each year there's a different "twist" on their work. 
  • DD16 works on lined or gridded index cards and usually does 1-2 cards every few days. Like last year, she plans to draw doodles, patterns or riddles.
  • DD14 plans to do a third series of hand-drawn girls on half-sized index cards. Last year, she did 61 x 2 = 122 half cards and plans to do the same this year! She likes to work on a bunch each day, often finishing before the end of the challenge because she gets immersed in her series. One card leads to another.
  • My daughters have lots of markers and colored pencils and it just sort of happens - we'll be drawing or laughing about our cards or comparing notes on what number we are at. 
  • I used to post all of my kids' cards to the blog, but it's difficult to keep up with photographing and posting them, so I have let that go; I post a few of their cards from time to time.

Learn more about inspiring {and eroding} creativity.

Project-Based Homeschooling. Wildly informative array of resources to inspire creative & independent thinking.

Marvin Vartel's Ways Not to Kill Classroom Creativity highlights the role of the teacher in building or eroding creativity, including showing examples instead of defining problems. He notes that "image flooding" or showing too many examples can be intimidating and suggestive, creating slicker work but weaker creative thinking skills and unique ideas.

Leslie Owen Wilson describes 7 ways that we impact creativity in On Killing Creativity in Children, including surveillance, evaluation, rewards, competition, control, restricting choice and pressured expectations. 

What Can You Do With an Index Card?

  1. Announce your word-of-the-year
  2. Sketch whimsical faerie faces
  3. Make a collage
  4. Practice packing tape transfers
  5. Design a quilt block
  6. Draw on a blanket at the beach
  7. Write a top-ten list
  8. Take notes at university
  9. Draw a repeating linear pattern
  10. Create textures with acrylic paints
  11. Stamp with alphabet stamps
  12. Write a haiku
  13. Attach it to your journal page with washi tape
  14. Test your inks or markers
  15. Do a blind contour drawing of your face
  16. Make a map of an imaginary island
  17. Add as a tip-in to your art journal
  18. Draw a mandala
  19. Draw patterns from curtains or wallpaper
  20. Cut into a stencil or mask
  21. Draw teeny tiny designs
  22. Paint a rainbow
  23. Stitch or embroider around the edges of the card
  24. Write a word on the front and the definition and part of speech on the back. Expand your vocabulary.
  25. Design a word search or mini-crossword puzzle
  26. Create a monogram or a logo
  27. Sketch a building facade
  28. Practice hand-lettering skills by writing quotes
  29. Stamp with bubble wrap
  30. Write a story
  31. Plan a tea party
  32. Paint with watercolor over a wax resist
  33. Write the alphabet in block letters
  34. Cut up two cards and weave back together
  35. Fold into an origami crane
  36. Add a teeny tiny glassine envelope or pocket and tuck something inside
  37. Practice embroidery stitches
  38. Document the highlights of your vacation
  39. Write the recipe for olive & rosemary mushroom quiche
  40. Marble paint
  41. Practice drawing faces
  42. Motivate yourself
  43. Invent fonts
  44. Create your company or blog logo
  45. Write a monogram
  46. Use it as a bookmark
  47. Recycle into an art journal page
  48. Do a mind map or brainstorm

Plus 100+ more ideas for index card artwork in my ebook companion to ICAD!

Daily Paper Prompt #67: Paint-it-Black

Doodling in bold black marker in my Art Doodle Love journal... making negative space interesting.

Making gelatin prints with cut-out-petals as masks.

An art journal page from 2010 {not the best photo, sorry} where I started with black gesso and then used a technique I taught in my workshop for 21 Secrets a few years ago called Urban Layer Cake. Find the video tutorial here. My journaling is in white gelly roll.

Stitching painted papers on black paper.

Art journal collage on a background of black gesso. Black acrylics work just as well.

Acrylics and ink on an index card.


Prompt #67 is to create an art journal page or other artwork on paper where black is the predominant color or the background color.

Check out the index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts!

Daily Paper Prompt #66: Neocolor Love

“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other's opposite and complement.”
Hermann Hesse

There's a video tutorial for using Neocolors to embellish your journaling at Art Journal Tangent #5: Beach Umbrella.

For this prompt, grab your Caran D'Ache Neocolor II water-soluble wax crayons {or Lyra aquarelles or watercolor pencils}. Draw something with Neocolors or use them on a collaged page. Try drawing stripes or a house or a starburst or a grid!

Neocolors are so versatile and an integral part of my art journaling process. You can draw with them as you would any other crayon, use a wet brush to "grab" color from the tip and paint like watercolor, brush over your colored lines to dissolve them and edge photographs or images.

Check out the index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts!

Daily Paper Prompt #65: Wax Resist

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
Henry David Thoreau


Left to Right: 1) wax resist, india ink, alcohol ink, 2) wax resist, gouache, 3) wax resist, high flow acrylics, alcohol ink, 4) ballpoint pen, wax resist, gouache


First drew with wax, then painted with gouache.


First drew stripes with wax, then painted with blue india ink, then dripped alcohol ink in various colors. 


First drew with wax, then painted with gouache.


First drew with wax, then painted with blue high flow acrylics, then dripped alcohol inks in various colors.


{Note this is in a different order, wax is not first...} First wrote random thoughts with standard ball-point pen, then rubbed wax on top of the inked lines, then painted with gouache. You'll need good light to "see" where you are adding the wax lines; I was a bit off! I tried this with several pens and the only one that worked well was a junky ball-point. You know, standard hotel issue pens or one found in the dusty depths of your desk at work.

Start with a candle, a big ol' block of canning wax or an ordinary white crayon. Use the hard wax to draw squiggles or lines on an index card. That's the resist or the mask. For the next layer, experiment with different mediums. What do you like best? What medium allows you to use wax to mask a shape most effectively? 

Check out the index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts!

Daily Paper Prompt #64: Contour Drawing

“It had long since come to my attention
that people of accomplishment rarely
sat back and let things happen to them.
They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo da Vinci

3x5" index cards, ink, gouache

This Daily Paper Prompt originated in the 2014 ICAD group at Facebook where we started doing blind contour drawings of ourselves. So grab a few index cards and a fine-nibbed black pen. Close your eyes and draw a girl, trying not to lift the pen. You can draw your vision of yourself or draw any girl. I love how my drawings turned out - with a bit of depth and playfulness.

Draw a second set of girls while looking in the mirror or while looking at models in advertisements. These were models in Vogue.

For this prompt:

1) Draw a face on an index card with your eyes closed {squint if you must, but keep going with that line work}, keeping the pen to the paper, drawing one line, non-stop.
2) Draw a face on an index card while looking at a photograph of a face or your beautiful self in a mirror.  

Here's an example of what blind contour drawings look like, and the value of this technique. Per the Lane Tech site, "We all new the drawings would be silly and incorrectly proportioned, which took the pressure off making a great drawing and allowed students to focus on observing closely and recording like a scientist."

Find an in-depth lesson in blind contour drawing by Bartel Art.

Check out the index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts!

Daily Paper Prompt #63: Layering Inkjet Transparencies {Lauren}

Paper-fanatic Lauren Bergold is back for her second round of collage-themed DPP prompting! Here's hot-off-the-press DPP #63 for your creative fun.


Thank you, Tammy, for inviting me to chime in today with an idea I hope will inspire you!

My favorite medium is collage, and I like lots of layers. One of my favorite ways to add content without extra weight and bulk is by printing my own photos and digital compositions onto transparencies made especially for inkjet printers. They're available at any office supply store and are a great tool for making your art even more personal and unique.

This example features a photograph I took of the Statue of Liberty, which I placed over an architectural diagram, then added a few more vintage paper layers before stapling the entire thing to a large butterfly cut from a magazine.

Photos are probably my favorite way to use this technique, but there are LOTS of options: layer a quotation or poetry over a real-life collage, just by printing out a text document on a transparency instead of paper; scan vintage ledgers, interesting book pages or old love letters to add depth and interest; create a collage of digital brushes for a grunge effect. The best part is that since you're creating the original as a digital file, you can re-size, re-color and re-print as many times as you'd like!

Clear layers blend seamlessly and sometimes it's hard to tell which bits are which, so here's a shot that also shows the photo on its own.

If you're wondering why Lady Liberty is left-handed in this example... (In real life she isn't!)'s because inkjet transparencies have a smooth front and a "pebbly" back; it's the latter which holds the ink and allows it to dry. Thus, before printing, you'll want to click the printer dialog box that allows you to print "mirror image" so that your images and/or text are oriented correctly. It's also a good idea to use the transparency or high-gloss paper setting, to reduce the chance of smeared ink. In this case, you can see that I forgot to flip the image, but let's just call it creative license.

I hope you'll be inspired to try this technique, I think you'll find it opens up a whole world of possibilities! There's a "companion" post on my own blog with examples, tips and tricks for using and printing with inkjet transparencies, and some ideas for substitutions.

Check out the index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts!

Daily Paper Prompt #61: Create to the Rhythm of the Music

Our guest hostess is Marit Barentsen! You can find Marit blogging at Marit's Paper World, creating mixed media artwork or orchestrating behind-the-scenes as the editor of Featuring Magazine. I've linked to Issue #4 because you'll find my article on creativity tucked inside!!!

Take a sheet of paper and a tool to your preference (pencil, marker, crayon(s) or paint and a brush/palet knife. Turn on the radio (or have someone put on music without you knowing which song it will be). It can be all kinds of music – lyrics are not important so classical music can be used as well. Close your eyes and be surprised by the sound. Move your pen over the paper to the rhythm of the music. Then look what shapes / rhythms you put on the paper and work from there.

The basic I created with a paint and palet knife while listening to Mr. Probz - "Waves" {links to YouTube}


Final art piece created from the original background {above}.


Another example - the basic was made using a black marker while listening to Herman Brood - "Saturday Night" {links to YouTube}. A tutorial on how this work came about can be found on Marit's blog!

There's an index to all of the Daily Paper Prompts.