Inspiration is on the Cards


Like just about everyone else, I had a deck of tarot cards when I was a teenager.  The book fell apart years ago (an aside - why were 70s paperbacks so very badly glued?), but I do still have the cards - an Arthurian deck by Caitlin & John Matthews.  

The imagery may have dated a little, but I feel they will prove very useful as inspiration for my upcoming Morte d'Arthur designs.  Justification, as if I needed it, for not throwing things away!  

In the intervening years, they have been sat on a bookshelf untouched because - like most of us - I never really got to grips with the whole Tarot system.  However, I recently discovered the Little Red Tarot site which stocks a plethora of gorgeous self-published decks (and don't we all prefer to support the independent artist!) and went on to take an e-course with Susannah Conway.  The result was a hit to my bank balance, but a shelf full of stunning imagery.

Allow me to share some of my favourites:

This is the Dreaming Way tarot by Rome Choi, illustrated by Kwon Shina - and having said that I prefer to buy indie pieces, this is a mass-produced deck available via Amazon.  But I do like its quirky attitude (the tea pot on the head!) and muted colour scheme.  And following the lead of Ms Conway, I felt free to cut the white borders off, re-writing the name of each card by hand - something I should be loathe to do to a less easily-replaced set.

This is Dame Darcy's Mermaid Tarot bought direct from her Etsy shop.  Now I'm not one for sugar-sweet mermaids with long pink tresses and Disney-worthy smiles cavorting with snow-white unicorns, I fear.  This deck has none of that, but rather is filled with hand-drawn sea creatures, pirates, camp sailors and - yes - the odd mermaid.  Excellent fodder for my mermaid journal...

Good lord, this one was pricey - but look how utterly beautiful!  Pagan Otherworlds features oil paintings by Linnea Gits and lettering by Peter Dunham.  It is redolent of all my favourite Renaissance masters - Botticelli, Lucas Cranach, Durer, et al -  mixed up with a Celtic mythos that appeals to my English heart. Cue gratuitous close-up..

Now I am saving my pennies for the accompanying book - also available via Little Red Tarot.  (I have no affiliation, by the way - just another happy customer!)

Santa Muerte by Fabio Listrani goes against so many of my preferences - mass-produced, saturated colours, a little bit big for my (admittedly small) hands.  But who can resist an entire deck of Frida-esque flowers, skulls, butterflies; despite all the bones it is full of joyous images (heart-shaped eye sockets, for instance) in true Day of the Dead tradition.  Indeed some of these cards have been tucked into the frame of my noticeboard whilst I work on my current Dos Fridas painting. (Which I'm sure will appear in a future post)

And finally the Vintage Wisdom Oracle, a collage deck by Victoria Moseley.  Whilst I'm not a great fan of oracle decks in general, I am invariably taken by a good photo-collage - especially when a bevy of vintage beauties are involved.  They are just so inspiring for both drawing and doll-making.  Again I have de-bordered the cards in order to focus on the imagery and make them easier to handle. 

So many pictures to look at, so many ideas to expand upon - and all packaged up in handy little boxes.  What's not to love!


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