Still working on the Borderless Ellis Tarot decK. It has taken much longer than expected, but that's the woes of re-formatting for you. In the meantime, I've been spending as much time as possible on Zanbul, my graphic novel project. Again, SUPER-BIG-GRATITUDE to those who buy the Ellis decK, you support my art and I love you! This is the 73rd page that I've drawn so far....
I have completed the drawings for 64 pages of my project "Zanbul"
My current project "Zanbul" (hereby referred to sans quotations) has eaten nearly all of my creative chi over the last couple of years and having 64 pages done only lets me know that there is a lot more to go.
However, 64 has a lot of meaning to me, as it is the number of hexagrams of the Taoist book of changes, the I Ching, and since the book as come to me as a jumble of images I have been arranging into 4 different stories to create the whole, the work is still largely out of order.
The goal is to create a graphic novel. Whether or not it will have words is not completely decided yet. I love to make people think, and I like the idea that the story wouldn't be limited by words, but it it reaches completion and seems incomprehensible, I'll know what to do.
The story still contains a lot that I am free to change, so without going too far into detail, I will say it travels across 4 different eras of time while focusing on a being attempting to understand her own alchemical process.
Please enjoy a few pages I am particularly proud of:
Way on back in May of 2015, I was getting ready for a month long road-trip to the west. I had backed up my hard-drive with all of the work up to that point on my graphic novel and we were hitting the road. We camped, stayed with friends, visited family, crashed in hotels (when we were feeling rich) cooked our food on public park tables(when we were not), and made out way to Oregon (at least the Southern part) from Dallas. We saw a lot of coast, a lot of hills, some mountains, a certain big canyon, beautiful night skies, haunted deserts, temples to Monkey Gods, and then saw home when we got back.
Now, I have 52 pages completed (which means probably 1/3 of the art total) and I still wish I could share, but it's not ready. This is what I've spent the bulk of my creative energy on, and is why visually, there have been next-to-no update to the site in almost a year. This is not to mention the fact that I am supposed to be working on a companion book to the Ellis decK.
However, at the beginning of the week, I decided to knock some of the dust off of the site and see if I could make a few things easier to find. 3 days into it (I work slow on web things) I'm here writing a blog about promising more things to come.
I promise there is more to come.
Queen of Cups
necklace and bracelets depicts mindfulness over thoughts, speech and actions. The green jewel attached to the ribbons in her hair references the third-eye, or honest-awareness. Because of her emotional control, she has removed the blindness of self-deception that can result from emotional impulses. Both her ribbons and her dress flow downward in a water like fashion showing her capacity for loving nurturing behavior. The shining light appears to beam down directly into her hear showing that she has become a receptive vessel for higher knowledge.
Attitude of the Card
The sensitivity of such a person can lead to creativity. Because the emotional work has been done, this is someone that can truly care about others. Diving into the depths of the water realm, the Queen has seen what is lurking in the dark, but has a commitment to accepting what lurks there as part of herself as well. Having this emotional maturity means that she can work with this "dark matter" and grow with it. It becomes part of her kingdom instead of her enemy.
Energy of the Card
Emotional strength can mean strong emotions - she can really change the weather in a situation. If you have ever heard the phrase "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" this is the "Mama" that expression applies to. Since her feelings run so deeply, you can count on this Queen for her intuition. From ripples in the water, to great ocean waves, this Queen is aware of all in her Kingdom.
If you're going to gaze into the depths of the water, calm down and hold the cup steady. You are running this show from the feelings outward. If the Queen looks like she is offering you a drink of water, maybe you need to listen to a mature female friend. If you feel this Queen is representing you, remember to tend carefully to the contents of your cup.
With the Holidays behind, print orders in, and work finally starting on my graphic novel again (there will be more about that when it is ready for that level of exposure) - I realized the last blog post I had made to the site was in November. What brought this to my attention was a request to be on the pre-order list, nearly a month and a half after the end of the pre-order.
If anyone is interested to stay in the loop about new printings or future projects, feel free to join the mailing list here. I can assure you, I don't like wasting time writing frivolous emails anymore than you like getting them in your inbox, so signing up won't cause you to get 5 emails a week from me about new toenail trimmings or anything of the like.
I've had some requests to do more of the "Tarot of the Here and Now" blog posts, so look forward to some of those as well.
Happy LATE New Year!
PRE-ORDER NOW to save 10.00 on The Ellis decK 3rd edition in 13pt White Plastic!
I have decided to create a luxury edition of the Ellis decK printed on 13 point white plastic. What this means is that the deck will be wonderfully slick for shuffling without being too glossy, the colors will be sharp, and the deck will be moisture proof and long-lasting. Regardless of how roughly you like to handle your cards, this deck should live about as long as you do.
The plastic stock is nowhere near as cheap as paper stock and will mean a more expensive deck (I couldn't even get a noticeable price break at 5,000 decks which is about 50 times more decks than I ever order at once) So once I have them printed, they will sell for $65.00 USD (plus shipping) each.
However, for everyone interested in pre-ordering before December 5th, I will be happy to reduce the price to $55.00 USD (plus shipping).
Today is the first time a card from the Major Arcana has shown up for my little card of the Here and Now exercise. The Minor cards are a little more situational and depict life situations. The metaphysical nature of the Major cards has to do with personal development, or the growth of our soul. Each of these cards represents an awareness. While this awareness could be applied to a person, place, or thing, it is the message of the card that is important, not how closely someone in our reality may embody an archetype. To me, it is almost psychologically damaging to our interpersonal relationships as well as ourselves when we apply a Major Arcana card literally to a person. That being said, let's talk about this lady:
II The High Priestess
gentleness. The right side of her body is adorned by leaves and flowers in bloom, suggesting the fertility of the maiden. Her hair is kept short on the right side like the shaved head of a devotee. Her right eye is blue, like water, the yielding element. Success comes from the ability to flow flexibly with the situation at hand.
In the Priestess' left hand is a bright yellow serpent embodying the harsh side of nature, the ability to "shed our skin" to let in new ideas, and her hidden strength. This left side is covered by the snake and the otherwise nude female is not as vulnerable as she may seem. On this side of her head is a silver tiara and masque representing her relationship to the Moon. Her hair grows wild like the fur of an animal. Her left eye is white in reflection of the Moon and allows her to understand the meaning of influence.
The White and Black pillars of her Temple show opposing forces. Each one must exist to hold up her temple and if one were to prevail completely over the other in this temple there would be a collapse. There must be conscious and unconscious. Without sleep there can be no awake. The pillars are crowned by glyphs showing the phases of the Moon, the eternal shift from light to dark.
The great window between the pillars is a framework for the rising Moon. The window is half-covered, showing that the Priestess has her secrets. The red curtain with its pomegranate pattern is a symbol for the feminine mystique, as well as fertility. At this stage, we are not ready to drink in the whole Moon. What she works with so easily would be too much for us to handle.
The "II" at the top represents the receptive and the feminine principle. The number 2 also stands for the duality, and once the number one has been defined, that suggests there must be another. This "yin" energy to the Magician's "yang" symbolizes the merit of non-action and its equality to action.
Attitude of the Card
High Priestess knowledge is the heavier stuff. We are still learning, so we can't know everything yet. A high-end physics book would only mystify a beginner, but we could ask someone with more learning questions. Information that is kept secret from a novice of any field is usually done so for safety's sake. The High Priestess can be your guide, but she won't tell you a straight answer.
She is our "mystic." Mysticism can be both a powerful tool and a horrible way to distract ourselves. The mystic is a person who applies the human imagination to reality. When this is done correctly, the invisible angles we are missing from our understanding of a subject come forth. When it is misused, we create a playland that instead of helping us through reality, hinders us in a bubble of our own delusion.
What are we working on?
Intuition. What do our feelings tell us? Have we become so insensitive that we DON'T get feelings on a situation. Have we become so sensitive that we have enfeebled ourselves?
As the intuitive, sit between these extremes and see what appear at this angle. When something speaks out to us In life and as well as dreams, perhaps instead of wondering what it means, ask ourselves why we notice it.
Below is a screengrab of the vector paths that make the figure in the world card:
A question that I get a lot when people are asking me about pretty much anything I've drawn is "How big is the painting?" I don't think it's anything bad about the average question-asker that they think all art revolves around paint. I just think it's a simple ignorance, and usually, not their fault. I usually explain that there isn't an existing painting and that the design was done on my 13" macbook. Some of them go "AH!" and ask me more. Others go "oh." and I can tell some kind of magic was disillusioned. They aren't convinced there's much talent behind using machines to aid the task.
...actually I kind of hate painting....
I've turned down chances to do murals, portraits, prayer-candles, and a few other gigs for the simple matter that I don't paint. I don't think the side of an up-and-coming restaurant is the perfect opportunity for me to trial and error color-mixing on a large scale with something that dries faster than I can think. I've had some fun with watercolor in the past, but usually, that's to flesh out a doodle I've been working on. I have to say that if I'm not sketching (usually in ballpoint pen or mechanical pencils, both of which are considered artistic no-no's) I'm probably working with vector art.
I love it. It's not easy, either.
I would advise a critic of digital artwork to sit in front of any computer-aided drawing program with the intention of drawing something. It will become very obvious very quickly that there is nothing the computer makes easier without making something else harder. The same principle applies to using a computer that applies to using oil paint, or sculpting, or water color, or making a mosaic out of skittles - experimentation and discipline.
If I hadn't been bored out of my mind laying out point-of-sale artwork for beer companies, putting chrome flames on vehicle wraps, or typesetting country club newsletters, I probably would have never branched out into using the same programs to create original imagery. (I'd probably have a boat-loan by now, too, so I think that's a bullet dodged as well.) After a while, people would actually hire me to do the drawings instead of the layout, but I discovered I was far happier doing art for my own ideas. My point is, without years of working with certain programs, I wouldn't have the technical understanding to draw a rabbit man upside down eating an apple. More importantly, I have to give it a feel.
This is the desire for experimentation that anyone who wants to do something has. The oil painter has to figure out where the threshold is crossed when they are no longer smearing expensive goo and are creating an image, and the same goes for me as well as the guy with a million colored beads and a hot glue gun. The discipline comes in when you have to start over, go backwards, or go outside and get a clear head. That's the part that doesn't let us stop until we know it's good.
As I said the other day, I'll be doing this (probably not daily) as a way to supplement card meanings and further my own understanding. I've been using the card of the day feature of the Ellis decK app for my own personal "what should I study today?" prompt. And so, the card it's picked for us today is:
Five of Pentacles
Attitude of the Card
These are some skinny times. It doesn't seem like there is a thing in the world going our way in the Five of Pentacles. Building up to the five (which is always a test in each of the suits) is a great accumulation. What this means in the pentacles is that we may have just experienced the loss of our livelihood, or that the demands of life are quickly chewing up the funds we have stacked up, or that everything we have is breaking and we don't have what we need to get it fixed. Maybe we are sick or injured and the strength we need to make our way through the world has been sapped. Maybe we are longing for the comfort of another with no space for intimacy in sight. Looking at the material, this can seem like our own personal apocalypse. We are hunched over. The signs of whatever faith we may have bring little comfort.
Energy of the Card
Scarcity. This is always a symptom of a down-cycle. We were king of the road for a while but now we can't even find work digging a ditch. Movement, specifically the passage of time is about all we can expect to bring a change to the situation. While there may be nothing left of what we had, if we are alive, we must move forward.
The only thing to do is endure. It'll pass if you keep going. Physically speaking, the worst situations can feel a little better if we at least keep our chins up.
To further my personal understandings of the cards, as well as supplement the little white book I send out with the decks (until the eventual release of the Ellis decK companion book) as well as a break from the graphic novel I'm working on presently, I thought it would be fun to start posting cards and talking about them a bit here in the blog. I'm taking the first one from my Card of the Day on the Ellis decK app which I like to use as a study prompt myself.
Card of the Here and Now:
What's Happening on this Card?
Here we have a young woman of the water realm (emotions). She has three cups stacked in front of her rather carelessly. She has either lost appreciation for them or wasn't consciously attentive to her stacking job. A fourth cup comes riding in on a wave and is seconds away from knocking her on the head, giving her the wakeup call she needs to get out of the doldrums.
Attitude of the Card
The young person in all of us that rolls their eyes at everything. Often when we have something good go on for long enough, be it a job, relationship, project, or influence, we get so used to it that we take it for granted. After we take it for granted long enough, we can get sick of it or lose our appreciation for it. Something shiny and inspiring no longer has the novelty it once did. Maybe we used to love iced cream and get excited about it, but then we started eating it every day. Then we moved from surprise to expectation to boredom. From boredom, we move into a careless apathy, not sure what to do with ourselves. In a culture where we constantly get new everything thanks to our technology, many of us think this is the best way to be: the first kid on the block to be "over it." The fourth cup could be the ensuing stomach ache after too much of a good thing. The good news is this knock on the head should inspire us into doing something different.
Energy of the Card
This card is the standstill that happens to the uninspired. Looking at the same things over and over again, and searching for motivation in what has already been done, a stagnation occurs. The futility of trying to get inspired can be just as maddeningly dull as the boredom itself if we stick to what we already know. Especially if we're taking it for granted. The fourth cup will usually come and knock over our untidy kingdom enough to get things moving again.
The misfortune here isn't that we may get a knock on the head. The problem is we've gotten lazy. When thinking on this card, we consider where in life we feel like a know-it-all and we've stopped listening.
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