Saturday, June 7, 2014

Burdens of Life Getting You Down?

If the Tens of Pentacles and Cups are Yin, the Tens of Swords and Wands are Yang with a Vengeance.   More positive-thinking folks than myself are able to see Opportunities in these cards, whereas we chronic depressives in the room can only see the Horrible Things that these cards indicate. In this case -- well, the image says it all: you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders, baby, and you've got to bear up under it somehow. 

For the design, I was able to find two (Carrie Paris supplied me with one of them) NEARLY identical images of two NEARLY identical acts, although facing each other, so to speak, as if in competition with each other. One of them featured a skinny guy hefting two fairly normal-sized men, the other a bulkier, sturdier fellow with two much heavier men on the barrel. For the purposes of the card I liked the skinny guy better than the stronger guy, but I liked the heavier subjects better than the ones the skinny guy was lifting. 

So I did what any boy with a toy like Photoshop would do, and combined the two. The only practical way to do this was to cut the barrel in half, and attach the body of the fat front "passenger" onto the leg of his lighter counterpart. Hand-coloring everything post-operation helped make it look seamless. 

Onward --


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Eight of Pentacles

The Eight of Pentacles typically shows a craftsman hard at work, indicating that it's time to acquire a new skill set, or make use of one that you already have. In my version, we see the talented men who created the beautifully hand-carved and painted animals who used to adorn the classic carousels. 

What a great job to have! Not just working with wood all day, but bringing out the inner animal in the spirit of the wood. Carousel animals used to be more than just horses: here we see lions, pigs and swans, but there were also giant roosters and storks and frogs and all sorts of other animals. If you can find a vintage carousel somewhere near where you live, you should by all means ride it. 

The finished circus carousel will re-appear soon, on the seven of pentacles. So, following the progression, you will see the finished product on the seven, and how it was n was created here on the eight.

The Kickstarter project to fund publication of the majors has been approved and will be launched next week. Tell all your tarot friends! We have to raise a lot more money this time around to make the full deck happen.

Many thanks for all the kind words and support I've received on this project, especially in the last few days!


-- Freder.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Safety In Numbers

OK, this image features no cups or buckets... at least none that you can see. Still and all, I think it's a cute variation on the Waite-Smith imagery for this card, which typically augers well-being, success and material security -- when it isn't reversed. When this card appears reversed... well, those lions are gonna eat you. Sorry.

Although they may not all have been revealed yet, the suit of cups has been completed. Yay! Only six cards remain to be designed. The little White Book is about 3/4 of the way done; but I haven't started on the box design yet. At the rate I'm going, I ought to be able to launch the Kickstarter funding by mid-month! I guess you could say that I haven't been lion around. 


-- Freder.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"West and Wewaxation at Wast!"

... as Elmer Fudd once memorably said. 

The four of swords traditionally shows the inside of a knight's tomb, but it's not about death. Rather, the card is telling you that it's time to rest, recuperate and regenerate after many days of Fighting the Good Fight.

Showmens Rest is a real place, an actual cemetery where Circus Folk are buried to this day. The card design shows four of the most memorable tombstones from that place -- along with a box containing a peacefully resting Contortionist. Yes, folks, that really is a whole person crammed into that little box. Well. except for the legs, but I venture to say they could have gotten their legs in as well. 

-- Lie back and catch yourself a break. You've earned it!

-- Freder.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Time for a little finesse,,,

Enough of despair and defeat. Time to draw on some expertise. Many thanks to Carrie Paris for providing me with the central figure I used on this card (until I saw her, I had little idea of what to do with this card... but it just screams the three of pentacles, does it not?). With a little technical magic, she gained a lot of color and a lot of Symbolic weight. 

As of yesterday, counting the "finished" cards that I have yet to reveal on this site, I'm down to nine remaining cards to finish the deck. Single digits looks awfully good to me! The Kickstarter to funbd the deck's publication ought to be able to launch on time later this month. Tell all your friends!

Thanks for stopping by!

-- Freder.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

An Exercise in Disappointment

In 1926, Chaplin's life was falling apart. The IRS was after him for back taxes, his mother died, and in December his wife Lita Grey filed for what would become a rancorous divorce. In September, production of his next feature film, The Circus, was brought to a standstill by a studio fire that destroyed almost everything. 

For reasons that only Chaplin could probably fully understand, he had himself photographed on the ruined set, in full tramp make-up, literally on his knees in the rubble of his life. This is the photo I've used here. 

It makes for an expressive card; but in several ways I am not entirely happy with this design. Just for starters, I'd already used Buster Keation on the card that falls immediately before this one, the four of cups. Two silent-film comedians in that close a proximity runs the risk of turning the deck into a Tarot of Silent Film Stars (an idea I have tabled for later) instead of a Circus tarot... and yet, Chaplin was in the process of making his Circus movie when this happened. The reason I finally opted for this idea instead of others that I had was simply that I couldn't make those other ideas work at all. 

The circus has had its share of disasters over the years, from train wrecks to tent fires and more, and many of these are well-documented in photos. But none of those photos have the strong central figure that a card needs, and combining them with other images usually produced a busy, dizzying mess.

Likewise, at the very least I wanted to change the background of the original Chaplin photo to a more identifiable circus disaster. There I ran into problems of perspective and composition that in the end I did not feel were surmountable given the resources I had. And so I had to settle for just adding a new brick wall behind Chaplin, putting the poster of his movie on it, and then tipping in the five buckets -- three of which presumably have been spilled during the fire-fight, and two of which, in full tarot tradition, stand upright signifying the fullness and success of the comedian's over-arcing life that were likely not visible to him at the time. 

Chaplin himself is in a slightly different position within the picture, and placed on a separate layer so that I could light and shade him. The whole image has been flipped and then colored and shaded. But I feel as if I should have been able to do more, to make this design better than it is... although in the end, I suppose it's appropriate to be disappointed with the design of a card that's all about disappointment.

-- Freder.