The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess. I’ve started many different versions of the above, but not got any further until now. Now that lock-down from Cronavirus has been enforced, I’ve been handed the gift of time! What more could I ask for? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot more!
It wasn’t until I told myself that if I didn’t stop being a perfectionist, and so hard on myself, that this deck of mine would never get finished. I needed to put the wind up my own sails, but at the same time go easy on myself. Every time I got inspired by someone’s tarot art, I’d say to myself, “I could do this”, but each time I started, I caved in. Why?
The mortal wound of failure, not being good enough, impostor syndrome, all got in the way of making my art. It was time to stop that nonsense and bite the bullet. It’s a pity it had to take a pandemic for me to give myself permission to create my tarot, no matter however rough, however naive, or however imperfect. But it was an opportunity and I had to seize it with both hands!
The trickiest thing to get right was the size of the card. Yes, I know….who’d have thought! But yes, the size. I’d seen so many pieces of beautiful art made into tarot cards, but their esoteric mystical landscapes enfolded tiny little figures who’s bodies and facial expressions were too hard to see. Although highly skilled, the images failed to convey the tarot message to me. I needed imagery that would stand out, punch me in the face with meaning. I didn’t have time for ‘vague’. And so the first thing I needed to make sure was the size of my characters. The next thing was that the cards needed to be small enough to do each one in a couple of days, so that I could get a good run on them, perhaps completing two or three in a week. Watercolour affords the artist a great amount of detail. So if the canvas is too big, it could take weeks to fill it. This is what I’d done in the past and quite honestly, I just ran out of steam to continue the project. So, the right size was crucial to this being a success or not.
(As a side note, each of the Tarot de Marseilles cards that I made took two whole hours to copy and colour. These were 3.5 x 6 inches). Two hours may not sound like a long time, but if you’re drawing for 4 hours a day, that’s pretty much a full day as far as concentration and shoulder muscles can take in a sitting. So this is actually quite slow! The present cards I’m working on take about 4 hours, plus there’s research time and sketching time in there, so it all adds up!)
When it comes down to it, it’s not so much the hours work, as the momentum. I need to feel in the flow of the energy of the tarot to do my best work. I’m not painting walls, I’m painting a creation from my soul!
One of the Tarot Artists I follow, Lisa McLoughlin, told me that Ivory Graphics in the UK printed a wide range of card shapes. This was essential to get the formatting right. So once I looked them up, chose a size (I’m going with Tall Tarot), I was able to measure out my size and start. I will always be so grateful to her kindness in sharing information with me, and indeed to the other people I know through face book groups like Simon’s “The Hermit’s Cave”. It’s invaluable to have this kind of support.
Another quality one has to have to achieve a project of this size is pure grit. It’s bloody hard work at the best of times, and the ability to keep going back to the drawing board is one I learned at Sahoko Blake’s life drawing sessions at the RHA Gallery School. At art college I remember one of our Tutor’s saying, “Never be afraid of hard work”, and quite often, art is like that. It’s a skill, learned through repetition and sticking with it.
Below is a little video I made of the first half of the Majors up to X The Wheel of Fortune. When I’d finished I took a chance and posted it in The Hermit’s Cave. The feedback I got was so amazing, and so encouraging. I simply mustn’t stop now! (Even if I AM stuck on XV The Devil at this particular point in time!)
This blog will be about the highs and lows of creating a deck. When I get enough of them under my belt, I will start to elaborate on the meanings and get into the nitty gritty of reading. So it’ll be a mixed lot. I hope you stick around for the ride!