Artist Sandy Byers owns a vast collection of credit cards, but surprisingly, she doesn’t use any of them to shop. Instead, she uses them as a replacement for paintbrushes, especially when she doesn’t have any handy.
Sandy has always been rather unconventional – she actually quit her cushy job at Microsoft 12 years ago to become a full-time painter. And last year, she took another leap towards the bizarre – she completely abandoned the paintbrush and started using plastic credit cards to paint. Her finished pieces are so beautiful, it’s hard to tell that there were no brushes involved whatsoever.
She developed her unique technique when she visited Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park in 2013. She was about to start painting outdoors after a hiking for about a mile with her husband, when she realised that she’d forgotten her paintbrushes. Going back to the car to get them was simply out of question. “I did not have the heart to ask to go back and get my brushes,” she said. “So I looked around and I just took out my credit card and started painting with it. You gotta find something to paint with when the scene is there and you’ve done the work to get that far.”
Photo: Komo News
Surprisingly, the technique worked out great – Sandy entered the painting she’d made that day in the inaugural Paint the Peninsula competition, taking home the juror’s award. Since then, Sandy hasn’t looked back – she hasn’t touched a single paintbrush, insisting that the cards work just fine.
Now, whenever Sandy paints outdoors with credit cards, her technique draws curious glances from passersby. The sound of the card scraping against the canvas is a very distinct one that she describes as ‘sort of a cat’s tongue’. “It’s just this little soft scraping that goes on. It’s very comforting to me for some reason.” And it’s this sound that attracts onlookers as well.
“At first I was thinking, ‘what a way to use a credit card!’” said one woman who witnessed Sandy’s technique. “I use a credit card for charging. My husband would love me to use a credit card for this!”
Sandy plans to submit her ‘Mastercard Masterpieces’ in this year’s competition as well, along with 31 other artists from across the United States and Canada. “We don’t have any other painters that paint with a credit card. I thought it was very creative,” said Anne Dalton, chairperson of the event. “Pulling out what was just handy – I thought it was amazing. I thought it made a really good story.”
Meanwhile, Sandy has no shortage of ‘tools’ – there are plenty of credit cards at her disposal, thanks to the sample ones that often come unsolicited. “I wait for the junk mail to come,” she laughed. “I just want to see what the credit card’s going to be.”