May is already coming to a close and I can’t believe it. I’m still accidentally writing “2012” and now I just spent my weekend on the beach, watching fireworks going off on Victoria Day. (Sup Canadians.) How did that happen so quickly?
I have so many cards to write about and share, and as of today I am working on my second last tarot already. I still remember that very first day I painted my very first card (The Hanged Man); I looked at it feeling so accomplished.. and then silently wept because I still had 78 more to paint. Sigh. But now? Now that finish line is just around the corner! And though there are still some other things to work on, I really hope to get a physical deck in my hands soon.
I have a huge soft spot for small animals and I knew there’d be an abundance of these little guys in this tarot. Choosing an animal for The Hierophant wasn’t particularly easy. This tarot’s imagery is traditionally more on the religious side and I didn’t want that slant in my version. I decided on the white stoat for The Hierophant because it often represented purity. Not tainted by negative influences, my Hierophant is a teacher, helping to connect others with the knowledge necessary to guide them on their journey. I’d like to think that he’s a bit humble and calm and helps keep a little peace and order within his society.
When I had tried formatting these images to create a borderless deck, this was the card that essentially went, “NOPE, not happening!” Too much of this painting was lost in the process and I couldn’t have that happen. I think the card loses a lot of its meaning when you cut off the two critters below, or the trees on the either side. So the idea of borderless was crossed off, and I hope that the final design of the cards will be okay in the end. I am digging the design plan so far, but I’ll share more of that later!
From The Devil tarot, I moved on to a little more positivity with Strength. I love the Strength tarot. It reminds me of being the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ of the tarot deck, traditionally including a lion with a beautiful woman its side. At the very beginning of planning out this tarot, I wondered if I should change the lion and have a different animal for this card instead. Well, I thought that for like a second. And then I came to my senses because for this deck, I really felt like the two belonged together once more. If a lion was going to be in this deck, it naturally belonged with Strength.
Perched next to my big cat, I painted a tiny Carmine bee-eater, a beautiful little bird with enough brightness and richness to be my counterpart to the lion. The Strength tarot isn’t necessarily about physical strength, but perhaps inner strength. It’s about knowing how to keep it all in check and the peace that comes with that power. I can see the gentle love in this tarot.
As of now, The Sun tarot is my last completed tarot card. I plan on working on this deck again probably in maybe a month or so; so this deck is definitely not being abandoned and I’m sure future cards will be even more fabulous when I start the deck up again.
This tarot had to be as vibrant as possible. I wanted this painting to be as bright as well, the sun, of course. The Sun tarot is a time of joy and happiness, of achievements that are within your grasp, of goals reached and of positivity attained. It is a time when life just seems to be working in your favour. The rooster was an easy choice for this card, symbolizing the sun itself, the light shining down on us, and pride and self assurance. This rooster truly knows the joy of the sun. I wanted the rooster to be surrounded with sunflowers, a common theme with this tarot. Sunflowers are easily one of my favourite flowers: big and bright and joyful. I only hope to find all the joy that can be found with The Sun tarot.
Temperance was another tarot that I was really intrigued with. I’ve seen it referred to as the alchemy card: Temperance takes different elements and skilfully blends and mixes the two to create this new perfect creation, creating balance. I created a long list of possible animals for this card, but then when I saw the liger one day, I instantly knew that it should be my Temperance tarot.
Now to be honest, the liger is probably far from a perfect creature. I’ve seen claims that ligers are prone to birth defects and many cubs don’t survive. Though I’ve also seen other sites trying to debunk this; so I can’t really say anything with full certainty. However I just wanted to portray their beauty and strength in this painting. I really enjoyed painting this liger with all its unique features and markings.
Waterfalls are becoming a common theme in these tarots. I wanted the liger to be in control of the water. I actually painted the waterfall with the painting upside down.. splitting the one into two. Perhaps the two streams meet again at the top. No one knows but Temperance.
I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to finally paint The Empress tarot. I could not wait. I knew when I sketched this card out, that it was going to be balanced out with The Emperor painting (that’s for a future blog!) I wanted the both of them to be two halves of a whole, and she was my first half to complete.
I’ve never painted a tiger before, but I didn’t want to paint a typical tiger. I wanted something just a touch different; so I decided on the beautiful golden tiger: the soft blending between the lighter orange with the white.. the light, soft markings, I thought that cat would be perfect. This cat was Mother Earth: powerful yet gentle, The Empress is the creator of all.
The waterfall was a key element for this painting. This never ending supply of earthly power and beauty also gets pulled into The Emperor tarot later on.
I hated spiders when I was a kid. Hated spiders. I remember finding not one, but two spiders on my bed one night.. and promptly spent the rest of my night in my parents’ bed. For like days after. Now of course, I don’t mind them so much. (Except for the ones I kept seeing while I was in California.. because they looked like they could eat the small ones we get in Toronto for breakfast. Blech!) I’m not particularly fond of finding them on me, but if one happens to be on the wall or my desk, I just let them be, because while I may not be the biggest fan of spiders, I hate fruit flies more. And the spiders can nom on aall the fruit flies they want.
Choosing a spider to paint for the Wheel of Fortune too was not the easiest of tasks either. It was a very easy choice in that the spider can be symbolic as the weaver of fate, but having a plethora of spider photographs as inspiration and reference, all spread out on the desktop, it kinda makes you itchy. Those creepy faces, those hairs, ugh, do I really have to stare at these?? But I persisted, and this painting was the result. I chose the orb weaver spider because frankly, I thought it was quite beautiful, in that creepy oh-god-it’s-still-a-spider-but-I-can-live-with-that kind of way, and I had a lot of fun painting the curving tree branch to mimic the wheel shape. The actual web itself was practically a treat to paint, thankfully. Not the most pleasant of experiences creating this tarot, but I think it worked out.
The Chariot tarot immediately started with a hurdle: should I include an actual chariot in this painting?
I’ve tried to make this tarot deck have more of a natural feel, to have the distinct absence of any man-made creations. Of course there have been exceptions. One was definitely the Nine of Wands, a circus elephant breaking free from its restraints.
The other obvious exceptions have been the Swords cards as well. I’ve found the Swords tarot to be one of the more challenging suits to create. With the wands, cups and pentacles, I’ve incorporated them as more symbolic representations: a flower, leaves, a tree. But with the swords, I’ve kept them as actual swords. Painting an animal surrounded by swords and trying to create a message with that imagery has been tough!
But, back to the Chariot. I decided to paint a horse for this card, which seemed like one of the more fitting choices. I had thought of painting it both black and white, as a combination of the two creatures that are usually pulling the chariot in traditional images, but in the end, the white horse seemed to just visually work better for me. The horse’s mane had this almost ethereal feel to it; so I felt like I should put almost like a whisper of the chariot behind the horse. I think it worked out in the end. To me, despite what normal Chariot cards are like, this one has a bit of a dream-like quality to it. So I didn’t even tether the horse to the chariot, because really, the true Chariot is the horse itself.
The Fool tarot.. where it all begins. I used to have a randomized list of what tarot card I would paint next, and The Fool was nowhere on the list yet, but one day I thought, ‘you know what, screw it. The Fool is calling for me and it must be painted!’
I had to make this one feel grand somehow.. the Fool I know is whimsical, silly, naive and even a little dumb. It’s the Fool! Optimistic, but perhaps a little too much so. But who would be my Fool?
I mentioned how I was going to tackle this painting to a friend, and told her that I was looking for a “herp-derp” kind of animal. You know what I mean: a derpy, d-uh, kinda goofy but sweet critter. My friend immediately suggested that I should choose a llama. Duh! Of COURSE the Fool has to be a llama. It made perfect sense. It was a perfect match.
So my llama was painted, barrelling along without a care in the world, glowing in the warmth of the sun.. and about to perhaps plummet to its doom. That’s the Fool for you.