So now that the contract has been signed, I can share the exciting new project I have just begun – a full tarot deck!
The deck, which will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide, maybe in late 2016 (it’s due in December 2015), will be authored by Deborah Blake. Deborah has published many books with Llewellyn, including The Witch’s Broom, which takes viewers on a “magickal flight into the history, tradition, and modern uses of broomsticks.” The style of our tarot deck is based loosely on the cover of that book, so we’ve been calling it “Retro Witch Tarot” as a working title. Deborah is also the author of The Baba Yaga series from Berkley Romance (Wickedly Magical, Wickedly Dangerous, Wickedly Wonderful).
For those that don’t know, a tarot deck consists of 78 cards, and I will be illustrating ALL of them, including a back design. These cards consist of fifty-six Minor Arcana cards (four suits – swords, wands, cups, and pentacles), and twenty-two Major Arcana cards. We are using the Rider-Waite tarot deck as a base. You can read more about this deck at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rider-Waite_tarot_deck, and also the history of tarot at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarot.
Deborah also wrote a great post about the reveal on her blog: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-super-sekrit-project-revealed.html! We’ll both be updating throughout the process, so be sure to check back at our blogs for updates! I will also be posting process pictures on my facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/albaillustration.
To make sure I was the right artist for the job (and I am, thankfully!), I first completed two sample cards – the Four of Swords and the Queen of Pentacles. Here they are!
Here’s what Deborah will say about it in the book that comes with the deck:
Caption: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream”
Underneath caption: Are you resting, or retreating?
Detailed explanation of card:
We all need to pull back from the world from time to time; take a break, catch our breath, and regroup. The trick is to know the difference between the lack of movement that is positive and beneficial, and the lack of movement that means we are stuck, in a state of suspended animation.
Things to consider: Depending on where this card falls in a reading, it may be a suggestion that you need to rest and refresh your spirit, giving yourself the time and space to renew body, mind, and spirit. Alternately, it may indicate that you are stuck in a rut, spinning your wheels when you should be taking action. Are you tired and overwhelmed? Or are you running away from making the tough choices or taking decisive action that you know is needed. Is there someone in your life who is holding you back, or whose lack of action has a negative effect on your current circumstances? This card indicates that they are stuck, and probably not going to change. Do you need a rest or a wake-up call?
And the text for this one:
Caption: “Prosperity and abundance come in many forms.”
Underneath caption: You have everything you need and most of what you want. Life is full of gifts, if you open your heart and spirit to them.
Detailed explanation of card:
Prosperity is as a much a state of mind as it is the state of your bank account. There is abundance all around you, and people who will help you achieve your goals. If you are rooted in the earth and tuned into the glory of the world around you, it is that much more likely that you too will blossom and grow. Be the Queen of your own domain, but rule with love and an open heart.
Things to consider – Do you appreciate the riches in your life, whatever form they take? Are you open to new opportunities? Are you fully present in your own life? How can you make the most of the possibilities available to you now, and how can you prepare for any new possibilities that lie ahead? Embrace your own power without fear. Be open to help from others who are willing to work for your benefit. Remember that prosperity doesn’t have to mean money.
I also want to show a bit of my process for the images. I was told to look at Victorian Halloween cards as inspiration. Much of the imagery is traditional – black hats, black cats, brooms… It’s going to be incredibly fun to work on!
Here are some steps used in creating the Four of Swords:
This is my initial sketch and color comp. I was given this description: “Four athames lie on an altar table with a sputtering, almost burned-out candle. Through the window above the altar, a crescent moon shines. In front of the table there is a bed with a richly embroidered comforter, and lying on the bed is a sleeping witch in a flowing black gown, her hands resting on her belly. Lying next to her on the bed is a sleeping black cat. In the corner behind the bed (to the left of the window and table) a hat stand holds her black witch’s hat, and her broom is leaning up against it. Both the hat and the broom have cobwebs on them, so you can see she had been sleeping for some time.”
Here is my first more finished sketch. I had to adjust a few things after I sent them this for comments, including shrinking the image so that more fit within the crop and fixing the cat perspective and making sure none of the cat was cropped off by the bottom caption.
And here is the finished drawing! I printed this lightly onto watercolor paper, inked it, and painted it! My paintings will all be around 6 x 10 inches in size.
One more time, the finished painting:
I am so thrilled to be working on this project and it couldn’t have come at a better time! I am now a full-time freelance illustrator, so I definitely felt better quitting my stable day job knowing I had such a huge project to keep me busy.