Tying up loose ends.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed so stepped away for a few days to take a breath.

I’ve been thinking about the card backs and trying out some different ideas.  Over the years I’ve had ideas for the backs and save little notes about it but reading them now nothing seems to fit just right.  I sat down in the office again tonight and worked on it then decided to put it down until I got the other cards all sorted out and maybe centered a bit.  I still feel very much in the 9 of Swords but I need to be in all of them. 

I’ve been having fun, though, looking through all the cards an the paintings.  Now that I’m done I don’t feel so murderous toward some of the cards, but still a few 😛

I do have a hit list of sorts. 

There is one I wish I could repaint but won’t, The Sun.  The yellow in it has shifted to an ugly greenish cast.    Strength has problems with the color too but I’ll get back to that.  I went over all of the other paintings, something I don’t do very often, and while some have small changes in the color, or a slight darkening they are ok.  The Devil’s yellow got a little green too but it actually looks good or at least appropriate.  I’m not worried about that one at all.  The poor Sun, though.  I think for now I will just correct the color in Photoshop and then repaint it in my own time.

There are some I just want to touch up or make minor changes. 

The Ace of Cups.  I would like to deepen the red of the fabric he/she is wearing.  The hair could be better.

The Fool, I might, just might, give him a reversed circumcision, ha.  I need to think about what it means and if its worth changing.

The Empress.  I would like to change some of the shades of green in the trees behind her. 

The Knight of Cups needs some better blue in the top corners and I am going to fix that black blotch behind the lotus.  After it was done I thought, yuck that looks like bad chest hair lol.  MUST be fixed.

The 7 of Swords I want to repaint the same design.  I just think I can do better.  I think that was still when I was on my no turp kick, it needs it.  It won’t take that long its the design that’s so time consuming.

The 8 of Cups, same thing, I would like to repaint the same design.  I’m glad now that I moved on when I did, but it could really be a lot better.

The 10 of Cups has a sword that does not help things out.  I am going to paint that out.

There are a few major arcana that are problematic.

The Tower.  It reminds me way too much of 9/11.  This was done well before that happened.  The deal was that I was scared, no terrified of this card and didn’t want to linger on it so painted it in a day.  I basically sat down and with no previous sketch, or at least nothing I was going to use, I did a black tower and set it on fire and threw people out of it.  I remember at the time I was very fascinated with this idea of 2 towers.  I saw 2 towers everywhere and on lots of tower cards and in old art depicting towers.  They seemed to come in pairs.  This was long before I had the understanding of them I do now.   So I put a smaller tower in to the left.  And as I worked it looked like the statue of liberty.  And now that really bothers me.  You’ll have to forgive me, its 9/11 today and  I watched coverage of it most of the day and have been thinking about it, its such a deeply wounding thing.  Anyway, I might just leave it, perhaps it is natural to be unnerved by that card or made uncomfortable by it and for that reason I should leave it alone.  But, I don’t necessarily want a card that is so stuck on one particular event, though,that is the big event of my time. 

Justice.  Will most likely just repaint it.  The original sketch was much nicer and it got a little messed up in translation.  I wouldn’t mind redoing the whole thing, really.  I don’t think I will though.  At the very least I might just do a few touch ups, I don’t like the shape of her face and I want the snake black.

 

Now I come to my 2 biggest problem cards, Strength and The Lovers.   Strength, like I said the colors have shifted.  It isn’t really greenish but it has lost all of its reds and golds and its just sort of a flat brown.  I wouldn’t display it as it is now.  And I don’t like the painting anymore either.  There is so much potential for the Strength card, for the idea of Strength!     I don’t like the rosary in it.  At the time I was really into collecting antique ones and then after 9/11 I could never find old ones again.  Of course there is ebay but that was just too vulgar, an embarrassment of riches, it was the hunt that was fun.  Anyway, I guess now I don’t see the Strength in…….I guess an outside source, which is something I would consider any large religion.  I’m not saying they are bad or one can’t get strength from that kind of belief or community, or be strong and still believe in them, I am just saying that I think the greatest strength comes from within and I would like to paint that. 

 

The Lovers, what to say. well I don’t really want to unleash a litany of insults on it.  I don’t like it.  It fills the space, sure.  Its red.  I can say that sometimes my passion to repaint a card cools a little after I do a few sketches, I’ll do that.  At the very least it needs some color correcting; there’s some funky yellow markings that I did for some ungodly reason, surely there is a level of hell for doing that kind of thing to art.

That brings me to the last painting, The Magician.  Now, I don’t really have any big feelings about it one way or another, but I did a while back, I really got hot to repaint it, I think around the time I did the 5s.  Then for some reason I don’t remember now I stopped.  I didn’t like the paintings or maybe it was around the time I got sick.  I wasn’t even thinking about it when I unearthed one of the renditions yesterday in a box.  Hmm, it didn’t look too bad so I went at it with some sandpaper!  (Yes that is what you do when you really like something, sand it!).  Here it is:

new-magician-01

I’ll have to go back and read the posts I did on it, I am sure there are some and a lot of notes.  What do you think?

I am struck by how similar it is to the last painting, the 9 of Swords.  This is probably when the idea of the towers was just under the surface.  I notice there is always a kind of upwelling of water around the dark tower.   It makes me think that the dark tower emerges from below the water while the light tower comes down from above. 

I have always been fascinated with things coming up out of the water.  Do you remember that scene in Excalibur when the Lady of the Lake gave Arthur Excalibur back and it came up through the water?  That gave me goosebumps every time.   It’s some kind of divine providence, a gift from the gods, yes, that is exactly what this is like.  I’m sure it’s related to whatever underlies baptism as well.  A symbol of the broken self given to the gods, repaired and then given back.  Think of sacrifices.  I can’t remember who told me this, or about whom, but that some people will put, say fresh fruit, on an altar and believe that in the blink of an eye their god takes it and gives it back, blessed.   

That reminds me, I also found a rejected painted version of the hermit with a note scrawled across it “The mountain arises from the  sea”.    Isn’t that what the 9 of Swords is?  Now, at the end, the mountain now built out  of a million things, with the aid of the hermits lamp, rises from the sea.  That’s what the Hermit was too, he was a mountain in the sea, an individual with his own divine life force and potential.    The beginning and the end, Magician and Hermit.

Ok, let me put them side by side:

new-magician-01L01

 

Ok, that’s where I’m at.  It sounds like more than it is, a lot of it I will probably take care of tomorrow.

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12 Responses to Tying up loose ends.

  1. Earl says:

    Interesting glyph on Mr. Magus. If you are going to go that way perhaps google the flower of life which is supposed to be the master symbol of all symbols. Crowley says the Magus is the highest representation of what a human can be (my paraphrase) maybe such a symbol as the flower of life could be used to represent that being as it is or seems to be the symbol that carries all other symbols within it. What do you think? Also congrats your finishing the deck. Can’t wait to have my own. E.

  2. Tarotsmyth says:

    Hi Earl,
    The glyph is called a Metatron’s cube and is a variation on the flower of life glyphs. I agree with Crowley.
    Thank you:)
    Marie

  3. Ian says:

    Strength – I always felt the rosary fits. It is part of the bond between the Woman and the Lion. Just my opinion, of course.

    Tower – it’s supposed to hurt. It’s great. Besides, the Statue of Liberty also reminds of Planet of the Apes…

    Lovers – I like it, and yet I’d love (no pun intended. but the reference is) to see a more passionate version of it. Waite-Smith IS the best version and that sacredness, that overwhelming light that comes with mutual love isn’t as present in your version.

    And Magician – to be honest, Felipe dislikes the current version. A lot. He says it’s a weak card, a weak image for the power that should be conveyed in this trump. _I_ like the current version better, because of the Magician’s stance, the power coming out of his hands, the stream of power rising through the spine. And yet, there is power in the Metatron Cube, but it is, to me, detached from the rest of the card, as if it were an 8 of Cups; besides, I feel the Magician should be on the center of the card. Maybe a mix of both pictures, retaining the best of both?

    Love,
    Ian

  4. I like the new magician much more for he seems like human, and the old one seems like a rag between two ropes with a bloody spot in the middle and only hands are from human – surrealistic scarecrow. Sorry, if I say it too rough, but the new one is really MUCH more better.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I think your original Strength card is one of your better cards and IMO it would be a shame if you chose to use a different image instead of simply re-painting to improve color saturation. I see the lion as part of the woman, an obvious visual pun but also more than that. A very powerful image that deepens the understanding of the relationship between personal power, sexuality, and self-mastery that Crowley and Harris set forth in their deck. Please don’t lose this image!!

    Magician – I’ve always liked the strange, not-quite-human feel of the figure on this card, and find it works for me on an intuitive level when it comes to the symbolism of the Magician. But I like the new image too.

    Empress and Justice – I honestly have wanted to see these cards re-painted. The ideas are compelling and beautiful as it usually goes with your vision, but I find the visual style of the Empress does not fit with the rest of the Majors. It lacks the realism and sensuality of the other cards, which is ironic for the Empress! And the Justice card just always felt a bit flat to me, literally and figuratively.

    Tower – I like this card and the uncanny evocation of 9/11; I agree with your and Ian’s thoughts that this card should disturb; that is part of its power. This is another one I hope you don’t change or re-paint, in addition to Strength / Lust and The Lovers.

    Fool – Your original is so perfect I can’t imagine improving on it, honestly. Interesting to consider the symbolism of circumcision or non-circumcision but I’m not sure it warrants a re-painting of this beautiful card…

    The Lovers – I love this card! The passion is so apparent, and I love the way the black, red, and white mixes cross-cultural, alchemical, and mystical symbolism. This is definitely not one I’d have chosen for re-working and another one I hope gets to stay…

    Okay, now the cards not already mentioned that I scratch my head about:

    The Hermit – I like the idea and symbolism of this card, but again the visual style is so different from most of the rest of the Majors that it seems out of place visually to me.

    Three of Cups – A lovely card, but I don’t really understand the symbolism. It simply looks like a nice, innocuous scene – but I suspect this is just a reflection of my own lack of understanding.

    Eight of Cups – A beautiful image but it seems out of place symbolically as a Cups card, given the lion is such a solar / Fire / wands symbol. I can’t make sense of it at all in terms of the symbolism or narrative of Cups, though I could see it in the Wands narrative or symbol system.

    Page of Wands – A beautiful card, but why is she so different in appearance from the rest of her “family”? Not a card I’d like to see changed or replaced, just one I’d like to understand better.

    Page of Disks – Another lovely card that nonetheless feels out of place visually and symbolically with the rest of the court cards to me. Why is the Page of Disks the only infant in the Court? Perhaps if I better understood I wouldn’t find the choice of this as the Page of Disks so unusual, as I can find no fault with the image itself.

    Knight of Swords – I simply find the visual style of this card jarring, lacking in the subtlety and realism of the majority of the rest of the cards in the deck. But I like the symbolism.

    • Tarotsmyth says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for such a detailed analysis. I have some comments:

      I think your original Strength card is one of your better cards and IMO it would be a shame if you chose to use a different image instead of simply re-painting to improve color saturation. I see the lion as part of the woman, an obvious visual pun but also more than that. A very powerful image that deepens the understanding of the relationship between personal power, sexuality, and self-mastery that Crowley and Harris set forth in their deck. Please don’t lose this image!!

      The color is a problem. I can probably fix it in photoshop and then ignore it or repaint it on my own time like I plan on doing with the Sun. The rest of it, well, it is almost impossible to expect these older cards to conform to the way I see things now, it’s reflective of a whole journey an not just the end. So, thanks for you’re ideas on this, I’ll have to think about it some more.

      Empress and Justice – I honestly have wanted to see these cards re-painted. The ideas are compelling and beautiful as it usually goes with your vision, but I find the visual style of the Empress does not fit with the rest of the Majors. It lacks the realism and sensuality of the other cards, which is ironic for the Empress! And the Justice card just always felt a bit flat to me, literally and figuratively.

      I actually did some color touching up to the trees in the Empress yesterday, otherwise I am going to leave her alone.
      Justice…yesterday I reworked her a LOT. She might be saveable! I’ll have to look at her with fresh eyes today and see. I balanced out the colors and changed her face quite a bit so she doesn’t look so young and, I don’t know, pinched. She looks far more interesting now.

      Tower – I like this card and the uncanny evocation of 9/11; I agree with your and Ian’s thoughts that this card should disturb; that is part of its power. This is another one I hope you don’t change or re-paint, in addition to Strength / Lust and The Lovers.

      I think I will leave it, but I *want* to repaint it. There are some cards, archetypes, that I feel like I can explore over and over outside the context of a deck and this might be one of them, but for the deck I will leave it in. I hate seeing the statue burnt up over and over though.

      Fool – Your original is so perfect I can’t imagine improving on it, honestly. Interesting to consider the symbolism of circumcision or non-circumcision but I’m not sure it warrants a re-painting of this beautiful card…

      Oh no, I wouldn’t ever repaint this one! I was just thinking about a tiny little dab of paint to make him whole again. But then, maybe that is the symbolism of it, and of circumcisions in general, the search for that missing spark. Like the missing piece of Osiris or of the many others. God/man dies in order to search for his missing part, all of it really meaning that the universe subjects itself to life and death so that it may know completely this small part of itself. So there, I think I just decided to leave him alone and circumcised:)

      The Lovers – I love this card! The passion is so apparent, and I love the way the black, red, and white mixes cross-cultural, alchemical, and mystical symbolism. This is definitely not one I’d have chosen for re-working and another one I hope gets to stay…

      I know in the early days when there were only the majors a lot of people loved this card. It makes me reluctant to touch it and yet I feel it needs it. Something will happen with this card.

      The Hermit – I like the idea and symbolism of this card, but again the visual style is so different from most of the rest of the Majors that it seems out of place visually to me.

      It is a lot different but he needs to stay.

      Three of Cups – A lovely card, but I don’t really understand the symbolism. It simply looks like a nice, innocuous scene – but I suspect this is just a reflection of my own lack of understanding.

      It was supposed to show that different streams have a singular source and common destination. It’s about the cycles and movement of water and elemental water. When I was doing the 2s and 3s they weren’t as focused as the 4+ are, it wasn’t until I reached the 4s that I realized exactly what needed to be done, that the pattern I was searching for was in tarot all along, the numerology in the major arcana. So this is the Empress in Water, a mother, the river, with her 3 children, the streams. The movement of water comes up over and over again in the suit of Cups, obviously. This is just off the top of my head but hopefully it helps you understand this card.

      Eight of Cups – A beautiful image but it seems out of place symbolically as a Cups card, given the lion is such a solar / Fire / wands symbol. I can’t make sense of it at all in terms of the symbolism or narrative of Cups, though I could see it in the Wands narrative or symbol system.

      Did I mention I plan to repaint this one, or might repaint it? same design, better painting.
      The reason for the lion symbolism in the 8s is the influence of VIII Strength. I decided some time ago that to ignore the Strength/justice switch would be to ignore that there is a reason it has happened and is meaningful to people and so I’ve treated the 8s as though they relate to Justice and Strength.
      In the 8 of Wands the person is sleeping and the lion is conscious. In the 8 of Cups the lion is sleeping and the person is conscious. They are all searching for equilibrium and to know the different aspects of the self. At the end of the 8s that is achieved and leads to the 9s which is integration (like all the streams, having run their course, come together again in the ocean).

      Page of Wands – A beautiful card, but why is she so different in appearance from the rest of her “family”? Not a card I’d like to see changed or replaced, just one I’d like to understand better.

      That’s pretty simple, because I never tried to make them look like a unified family. If they do its because of similar symbolism portrayed in their bodies. In the same vein I never tried to make all of the minors in a suit have the same colors though they have developed their own consistency. It’s funny because I never even thought of the court cards that way! Yet, when I was digging through the rejected paintings the other day I found a couple of these Page of Wands that didn’t make and they were black skinned, I had wanted her to look like a black Madonna but it just wasn’t right. As I went along it evolved into more of a Joan of Arc idea. I never tried to portray one race of people or another, one color of suit or another, I just let it evolve naturally in that way. With sex too, in most cases I tried to let the sex of the character come out naturally rather than stick with a norm or proper percentage. I learned a lot from that.

      Page of Disks – Another lovely card that nonetheless feels out of place visually and symbolically with the rest of the court cards to me. Why is the Page of Disks the only infant in the Court? Perhaps if I better understood I wouldn’t find the choice of this as the Page of Disks so unusual, as I can find no fault with the image itself.

      The reason for that is that to me the person who most embodies taking the first step in the journey on the earthly plane is a baby.

      Knight of Swords – I simply find the visual style of this card jarring, lacking in the subtlety and realism of the majority of the rest of the cards in the deck. But I like the symbolism.

      This is one of the oldest cards in the deck. I had originally painted I think about 3 major arcana, 1 court card, this one, and one minor arcana, the 3 of wands (which you can also see is totally different in style than the rest of the deck). At the time I was still trying to get used to painting so small, being used to large canvases. It took me a while. I think part of the look is a bad scan too, I haven’t rescanned this with a better scanner.

      Ok, I hope you can now scratch your head a little less! I know there is still so much unsaid about these cards and that’s why a book is needed.

      Marie

  6. Stephanie says:

    Although as to the Magician I would add this thought:

    As part of a progression of images, the original Magician makes visual and symbolic sense. I see the Magician as representing the transition from non-being into being, from formlessness into form. Perhaps not an obvious reading of this card but one that has struck me as a deeper mystical symbolism of the card, one that pairs with the High Priestess as conduit of the unseen, formless realm…

    Here in your original card is a being that has just barely come into form rising from an unformed realm of clouds and mist, the symbol of Eternity (the Formless) on his chest, the blood of Life and Form coursing up through his center.

    In the new card, we have a fully formed being in front of a fully formed tree. In light of the uncanny relation between Trumps I and II and the Unseen / Formless realm, he just doesn’t have the same power, and seems much less in visual and symbolic counterpoint with the amazing High Priestess card than the original Magician…

    • Tarotsmyth says:

      On to the Magician…

      I really wasn’t planning on changing this card at all, I just happened to run across that version while digging through boxes.

      As part of a progression of images, the original Magician makes visual and symbolic sense. I see the Magician as representing the transition from non-being into being, from formlessness into form. Perhaps not an obvious reading of this card but one that has struck me as a deeper mystical symbolism of the card, one that pairs with the High Priestess as conduit of the unseen, formless realm…

      I see where you are coming from on this though it differs with me a little bit. The way I see it it isn’t something coming from nothing, but something coming from everything, no beginning and no end. The one, to me, is everything which has yet to be divided. It’s exactly the same as 10, like the wheel with the ups and downs, but there is no way to step outside it and distinguish one thing from another.
      Nothing is the High Priestess, who with her void makes possible a way to step outside and see everything.

      There’s a long tradition in stories and myths of a God that comes to earth in human form and wanders the world. He helps other hapless wanderers if they are smart enough to listen to his message. This is the idea I was trying to portray. It’s like you are the Fool and this is god, or your potential self (if there is a differene) giving you your package of individual gifts and idiosyncrsies that you will hang from the end of your walking stick and take with you on your journeys.

      In a way you are seeing the being being formed and I am seeing from the being looking outward, if that makes sense.

      I don’t know what I am going to do with this one yet but I appreciate the input.

      Marie

  7. Stephanie says:

    Marie,

    Thank you so much for the detailed explanation! I have a much better understanding of these cards now, and things that didn’t make sense before do now 😀

    And I’ve got to tell you, your system of understanding the ‘journey’ of the Minors makes so much more intuitive sense to me than in the standard Waite-Smith and Thoth-Harris decks. I like that each 9 represents a different sort of culmination of a different aspect of the soul; I don’t agree with the demonization of Swords / air such that the minors end in ruin.

    • Tarotsmyth says:

      Thanks Stephanie,
      I’m glad it helped. I think when I get it all down in type it will make perfect sense. i have to say, though, that this isn’t a system of my own construct, its a system I’v observed in many great mythologies, philosophies and arts….I think its a story we all carry inside us, in every part of our selves, our dna, our souls – and variations of it exist in everything in the wide universe because its the natural patterns that created it.
      Tarot with its numbers and words and allegorical images is the perfect vehicle for it to bubble up.

      I don’t like the demonization of swords either – one mans ruin is another mans enlightenment I suppose 😉

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