Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part VII – Waterlogged!



catch up on the prior installment here

Creating the cups suit of this tarot deck was difficult for me. It may be because I don’t have a lot of water in my astrology chart – only Neptune, the MC, and Chiron, if you really want to know. But more likely it is that I don’t have a lot of experience with watercolors. Plus these paintings were tiny! They were painted pretty much the actual size of the cards. I’m a painter who likes control. Watercolor was just not a medium where I could have the control I wanted to paint tiny details. When I started the Cups suit, at first there was a lot of swearing happening until I learned to go with the flow. By the balls of Zeus and the chin hairs of Aphrodite! I got really good and creative with my swearing.


I also had to find a way to get the details painted that small. I ended up settling on a combination of watercolor and colored inks, as the inks had a little more control than the watercolors. At first, I thought I had found the Holy Grail (Ace of Cups pun intended) when I discovered Derwent’s Inktense pencils. They are basically like watercolor pencils but instead of watercolor they are (supposed to be) permanent ink pencils. Brilliant, beautiful colors, but while they were more permanent than watercolors, they were not as advertised. I had read that once they dried the color was permanent, and one could layer over them without lifting the color underneath, like acrylic. This proved to be not at all true. Even after drying overnight, if they got wet again the color would run. Bummer, as if they could have pulled that off they could have become probably my favorite media ever. Or at least for a while! (Can you tell my tastes in art supplies are fickle?)


Still, I am glad I coughed up the dollars for the large set of them at that time, because they really are wonderful colors. Using traditional watercolors, the Inktense, and occasionally a super fine micron marker I was able to get the teeny tiny details in where needed. I used a tiny brush dipped in water and then ran it over the tip of the pencil until it was good and saturated with ink. Oh, almost forgot, using masking fluid to block certain areas off was really helpful too at times. I was super critical of myself during the process, as painting with the techniques that watercolor requires is not really my MO. Some people really ended up liking the results though I guess, as a few people told me the cups were their favorite suit. I for one will never attempt to do watercolors that small again if I can help it! One thing that was surprisingly enjoyable though was actually painting WATER with watercolors. (Duh!?) It was fun to do a wash over an area then add color and see it morph and swirl. THAT I liked! It was good then that the cups suit has a lot of depictions of water!


If anyone reading this knows of a brand of colored inks that ARE permanent and don’t run when water gets on them after they are dry, please email me! I actually just ordered some Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay India ink for my next project. It should get here in a couple of days, fingers crossed that it has those properties!


In case you are wondering, my next art project is indeed another tarot deck! I have the pen & ink part of The Fool drawn and ready to color. Maybe I’ll share it with you soon! Would you like to see it?? It is pretty trippy *grin*. I’m working much larger this time too – I learned my lesson! For now, I’ll keep it under wraps, at least for a little while.


I guess now that I’ve taken the plunge and started another tarot deck, I’d better finish these write-ups, while I can still remember all of the details I wanted to share with you about the publishing part of the project. The next installment will share a little about the process for the Disks suit and the rest of the trumps, and then I will give the mental download of the printing and publishing info for all you creators out there. I hope I can remember everything. I have a notoriously bad memory in some ways. I can remember all sorts of esoteric details and qabalistic and astrological correspondences, but can’t remember stuff that happened yesterday. I only got the Rosetta tarot deck published in November, but already it is all one big blur! It’s like there is only so much tape to record on allocated to that type of memory, and I just keep rewriting over it, thus losing what isn’t recent. Maybe I need a RAM upgrade. Or a time machine.  I’ll do my best to put down some useful info before it is gone from the memory banks. Hey, it may even help me with my next deck, as I’ll probably have forgotten it completely by the time I finish that!


Next up: Journey through the Creation of a Tarot Deck – Part VIII – Grounded, the stages of completion…

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