He protects Benalia as much with his awkward stance as with his keen fashion sense.—Tosten Von Ursus IV, Ruler of Benalia Prime, Dominaria (Ver 46379.1)

Jasper Sandner, of Bronze Sable and Flamecast Wheel fame, seems to paint all of his Magic illustrations on a computer. I’ve been to his blog. There I studied large jpegs of his work, (larger than the 2×1.5″ illustration box on a Magic card). The brushes must be digital. While looking at Sandner’s work I thought about whether I preferred digital painting or analog painting. Analog, in a vacuum, is more appealing to me than digital. This is not to say that digital painting can’t be extraordinary (though I can’t give you an example of extraordinary digital painting off the top of my head).

Capashen Knight‘s unaltered illustration is fine. It’s a utility illustration. It gets the job done. Blah blah blah I don’t want to talk about Sandner’s illustration anymore. I can’t stop thinking about how much better the card looks when it’s got paint accidents all over it from spending weeks on my studio floor.

[type type type, I keep watching sequential episodes from Game of Thrones Season 2, am I getting hungry?, why do I wait til the last minute to write these things?]

Limited matches leave tons of cards in my studio. They often fall to the floor and get swept up whenever I kick a friend a couple bucks to help me clean the space. A short notice studio visit had me sweeping solo recently. It took me a while ‘cuz I looked at lots of Magic cards that had collected paint since the last purge. Capashen Knight stood out to me. I picked it up and examined it for more than a few minutes.

Then I scanned it into the computer. Now I share it with you.

mtg scan

The white with a hint of yellow plays with the blue of the knight’s cape. The pink zips across the gray of its armor and the blue-black shadows of the fabric. The unintentional purple paint-cloud floats across the sky behind the forced dynamic pose the knight strikes. Blue dots confuse the space of the picture plane. The generic action of the illustration has been upgraded to something more interesting, more unusual. Unintended visual interactions form questions that expand a story. Creativity and imagination are activated in new ways. Things are less linear and less expected. It looks like the knight is throwing paint at us. Or maybe he’s being attacked by some kind of paint wielding monster?

[type type type, how’re they going to get out of the dessert?, why aren’t they showing us more dragons?, a girl I saw at an opening today looked like Daenerys Targaryen, because of this I couldn’t stop looking at her, it was weird, I wanted to see dragons, too; I’m getting pretty hungry.]

What do you think? I’m curious as to what you, dear reader, think of this image. I imagine there are a couple out there thinking “who gives a shit? he got some paint on a card” which I equate to “my kid could do that,” common criticism of abstract art from those who don’t know any better. What isn’t worth talking about? Our eyes take in information constantly and our brain processes it through all its filters to come up with meaning. It often generates content where there is seemingly no content to be found.

Some of you probably have thoughtful responses to this image. It’s those I’m interested in forming a dialogue around. Please share them.

Honestly, I don’t know why I think this is a good thing to write about. The altered card is visually exciting and makes a mediocre thing interesting—though I can’t quite describe why.


[type type type, watch a man on another planet hand off a baby, his own son, to a beast in a forest at night, order pasta on Grubhub, wonder what my ex-girlfriend is up to]

It’s often difficult to come up with something to write about week in and week out. Sure, I got to cast Revel of the Fallen God off of an unpaid Oracle of Bones tribute, twice. I drafted the THS BNG JOU format three times this weekend and went 3-6. One round was all lands or no lands and mulligans to five each game. I have no insights into Standard (haven’t played it in weeks) or this current format (it’s a crap shoot!).

Forker and I did one Vintage Masters sealed event.  Of the twenty minutes we had to build a deck the first fifteen were spent reading what the cards did and the remaining five were given to building a mediocre deck. Thing is, it was a riot! We had a good time playing with ridiculous cards in ways we couldn’t comprehend.

During my 1-5 streak on Friday night I laughed endlessly. Saturday’s draft at Jon’s saved a day that had been seemingly ruined by playing non-team basketball all morning. Listening to Boatshoes talk about how excited he was about the deck he drafted with a curve starting at five was inspirational. The day was further enhanced when I heard him complain, with four lands on the table, that he was having trouble with mana. You only get to hear someone’s first complaint of mana screw a couple of times in your whole life. I’m so glad I got to hear Boatshoes’s.

[type type type, marvel at the size of dire wolves, interpret Bran’s dreams, Pasta is here! I need to close this article quickly.]

The illustration for Capashen Knight isn’t extraordinary and I was taken by how good the card looks when it has some incidental paint splashes on its surface from hanging out in my studio. It feels like something is there, some kind of meaning, but I do not know what it is. In art, feeling that something is “there” and talking about it in hopes of luring out content, is a significant portion of my reasoning behind continued existence.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY.  Matt works between a variety of inter-related genres that explore mythology, archeology, ancient history, theoretical physics, comedy, and the paranormal—all developed and inspired by research and personal experience. Together his bodies of work form a way for Matt to evaluate, negotiate, and play with the world around him. You can check out his art at www.mattjonesrules.com.

Matt’s played Magic since early 1995, took a break for a decade or so, and came back to the game the weekend after the Scars of Mirrodin release. With Hugh Kramer he formed New York’s Team Draft League and is one of the original writers for Hipsters of the Coast. Matt’s been sober for seven years.



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