30 September 2019

The Characters of Water

Here are the four Water Character Cards as they currently exist. I'm still working to keep them gender neutral and to show the same figure through the series, since all of us have all of these qualities at various times in our lives.

Novice of Water
Sensitive, romantic, curious and gentle, the Novice of Water is impressionable and earnest and tends to be attuned to the unseen—the spiritual, mysterious or poetic side of life. Introverted and inexperienced in romance, they sometimes have trouble distinguishing their own feelings from the feelings of others.

Evangel of Water
Passionately romantic and a lover above all else, the Evangel of Water needs to be engaged emotionally rather than intellectually. They are artistic and charming and in love with love. This romantic dreamer sometimes confuses emotions with truth, believing that every passing feeling is a message from the soul.

Mentor of Water
Although the Mentor of Water feels life intensely, they are comfortable with both emotion and intuition and are mature enough to remain calm in the face of strong feelings. Generous and kind, the Mentor offers nurturing attention to those in need and is often a healer, mediator or guide. The Mentor thrives on deep personal relationships and is trustworthy, empathic and perceptive, although people who don’t like being “touchy-feely” can find this personality type too cloying.

Paragon of Water
Confident, warm and in touch with their own needs and feelings, the Paragon of Water leads by inspiring others and fostering connections. A person of style and elegance, the Paragon has learned from relating with others and achieved mastery over their own emotional expression. Moved by the hearts of others, they want to do what is right and work for the greater good.

29 July 2019

Ten of Water


The classic Rider deck’s Ten of Water (Cups) shows a scene of domestic tranquility, a nuclear family group under a shining rainbow of cups. I’ve chosen to depict an image that reflects a more interior-focused kind of happiness, an image of the Japanese art of kintsugi, repair of broken pottery with lacquer and gold. Nobody comes through life emotionally unscathed, but our emotional wounds can become our strengths when treated with care. The Ten of Water indicates a return to a sense of wholeness and emotional well being, along with a powerful maturity and wisdom that can only be gained through experience.

I tried doing the gold fill using gold leaf but I wasn't happy with how it turned out, so I did another version using gold pigment.

The gold leaf is interesting but I didn't like how it scanned for the digitally-collaged tarot card.
This version using gold pigment worked better for my purposes.

04 July 2019

Nine of Water


Emotional stability and maturity are the hallmarks of the Nine of Water. Self-love, contentment, emotional literacy and fulfillment are all represented by this card. Be on the lookout for self-satisfaction, though, and the isolation that can come as a result.

Here are a few progress shots of the woodblock print of the Chinese porcelain pot.

I began with a layer of titanium white in the shape of the pot, over the off-white paper. I was nervous about how subsequent colors would print on top of the white, but I couldn't think of a better way to show porcelain thatn white, so I took the chance. Then I began building up the shadows with tints of gray.

Next I did some carving on the block and printed a few underlayers of light blue. You can see the emboss created by the other carved ares that I hadn't yet inked. Pretty nice just as it is here. Had I made a larger edition I might have reserved a few at this stage, but I only had three prints in the works so I continued on.

Then I went back into the block and did the fine carving.

I printed the final layer in a darker blue. One of the three prints went off register, so I was left with only two. All I needed for the tarot deck was one, though, so it was a success.

12 June 2019

Eight of Water


The Eight of Water brings the scattered desires of the Seven into a focused desire to seek deeper connections and meaning. Even if we don’t know exactly where we’re headed, the motivation to move toward something more emotionally fulfilling in life is deeply felt. We’re not leaving behind the things we’ve known and loved because they’re bad, we’re leaving because of an inner intuition that there’s something more. Just be sure that it’s intuition from your heart and not escapism that is your guide.

This is the woodblock print of the canteen, loosely based on a Hopi canteen. As you can see, I forgot to flip this one before I made it into a print. That's one reason I'm happy that I'm assembling these cards on the computer.


06 June 2019

Seven of Water


The Seven of Water presents us with the discrepancies between our dreams and reality. Under this influence we feel the emotional pull of imagined possibilities, fantasies, temptations, wishful thinking and an influx of confusing feelings and desires. The Seven can be visionary, but focus and a rational assessment of unclear motivations is necessary to move from dream to reality.

Here's the vessel I created as a reduction watercolor woodblock print, based on a 1940s vase.


Six of Water


After the upheaval of the Five, the Six of Water brings solace and time to reconnect emotionally with oneself or others. It often signifies a reaching back in time to re-collect memories or the purity of earlier feelings, and to gather emotional courage to reach out again. Perhaps with help from a safe other, the Five invites us to be kind to ourselves and to reconnect with the pure feelings and wisdom of our innermost heart.

Below is the one-block woodblock print of the pots that I invented for this card. When I started to design this "fountain" I had difficulties because I was trying to invent a fountain that would actually work. It took me a while to realize that… duh … it didn't have to function as a fountain, it simply needed to suggest the idea of a fountain. I'm in a constant struggle against literalism.


As with all of these tarot cards, I combined the woodblock-printed elements digitally in Photoshop.

27 May 2019

Five of Water


Fives bring challenges, and the challenges of the Five of Water are feelings of sadness, disappointment, or grief. When this card appears in a reading it doesn’t represent loss per se, but the feelings that accompany loss, whether those feelings are fresh or are relics from old wounds. This card invites deep emotional processing, as grief must be experienced before it can be released. If not processed, grief can grow into feelings of victimhood or self-pity.

Below is the one-block woodblock print of the pot that I created for this card, based on a pot I found on the internet that purports to be a Portuguese pot for roasting chestnuts.