TAROT D: The Process of Creating a Visual Metaphor (part 1 of 2)

I have been studying the Tarot for roughly thirteen years now.  It has long been a source of meditative fantasy and imaginative, psychoanalytical catharsis for mythologists and fortune tellers alike.  Being a student of “story” and all things symbolic, i suppose it was inevitable that the Tarot and I would eventually cross paths.  I never could have imagined just how deeply I would fall into the eternal, self-perpetuating mystery that the Tarot embraces.

The Tarot represents life.  It is a visual metaphor for and a comprehensive inventory of human existence.  It reveals itself to each of us differently.  I believe we are all life long learners, and therefore we never completely understand anything.  However, we may reach moments of clarity and enlightenment that allow us to travel deeper into the unspoken language of the universe.  As we live in a realm dictated by the passage of time, our lives are most easily studied through the recognition of patterns.  Once we fully realize these patterns, we can master them, move past them and focus on new adventures.

The creation of my TAROT D has been one, lengthy, patterned process.  In fact, it was through this repeating pattern that I established, refined and mastered the process itself.  I suppose this act of creation could be considered as much a metaphor for life as the Tarot is.  We do what we do, learning and working to become better along the way.  It is only by being, doing, thinking about what we are doing in order to better understand it and then following our hearts that we will ultimately reach our bliss.

What I am about to reveal to you are some images documenting the technique I have been using for the past year and a half throughout the creation of my TAROT D.  There are several stages to the process I have created.  It is a mixed media technique that employs graphite, acrylic paint, ink and colored pencil.  Each image has taken me approximately 25 hours to complete.  There are 115 images in the set.  Once all the art is complete, I will be drum scanning and enhancing each image in Photoshop.  In the end, the process of executing the art (not taking into account the years and years of research that have gone into this project) will have taken me about 3,000 hours.  Presently I have between 400 and 500 hours left to go, which is why I figured it was time to begin revealing what I have been working on for so very long.

The image above is a process summary of how I created the reverse side design for the entire deck.  This image is geometric and elemental in its motif. I began by drawing the design on a 15 x 20 piece of cold press illustration board.  I then painted in the value map with a gradient of prussian blue.  Next, I inked the line work, then I colored the image with colored pencils.  Last, I reinforced the line work with ink again and the image was complete.  This is basically the same set of steps I have used for each and every card.

I am an illustrator before I am any other type of visual artist.  Therefore, I hold the belief that a great painting must first begin with a complete idea and a solid drawing.  As you can see in the image above, the drawing begins very simply and gradually becomes more and more rendered as detail is added.  The end result is stunning when compared to the initial sketch.

Drawing is truly my greatest strength artistically.  I spend about 8 hours completing the drawing before I seal the pencil work in with a light wash of acrylic.  Because I now recognize my strength, I am able to draw upon it (no pun intended) and use it to showcase just what I am capable of.  This work is, in my opinion, the best thing I have ever done.  I would go so far as to call it my masterpiece.  I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

The three previous images are all ‘court cards’ from my TAROT D.  Each one represents one of the signs of the western zodiac.  In part 2 of ‘TAROT D: The Process of Creating a Visual Metaphor’, I will detail the value painting process as well as the inking and coloring.  I hope these images have whetted your appetite and peaked your interest in my work.  I look forward to showing you more!

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2 Responses to “TAROT D: The Process of Creating a Visual Metaphor (part 1 of 2)”

  1. Beautiful work as always. I can’t wait to hold a finished deck in my hands!!

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