Sunday, November 7, 2010

London Journal - Ten Months and seven Tarot Cards

I arrived here on January 7th. It's now November 7th, ten months since that wintry day when the tubes were shut due to a dusting of snow.

When I first arrived I was without a job and with very few funds. What little money I had saved was practically halved due to the exchange and so my days needed to be spent frugally. I filled my time by visiting museums and job hunting.

About two weeks in I was unhinged. I had no art supplies and no money to buy art supplies. I awaited a delivery from Canada and felt myself going slowly bonkers.

When my supplies finally arrived (The case beaten up but the contents safe and ready for use.) it was as though a floodgate had opened. I bought a few canvases, deciding the expense was worth it for the sake of my sanity, and set to work on my Tarot Cards.

The last Tarot Card I'd completed before leaving Canada was Temperance, which I did for a friend.

The first card I did when I got to London was The Hierophant, which I did just for me. It continues to hang in one of the four spaces I have for my paintings, even though I've done seven more since.The Hanged Bat was my second piece completed and then there were a few weeks where I worked on other projects, taking a break from my cards. When I picked up the brush again it was to do The Magician.
I was already mulling my next card over when The Magician was just a pencil sketch. I often get the idea of the animal and a general image of the layout I want a few weeks before I start a card. I knew The Devil would be next because I could picture it so clearly.
Despite having such a clear idea of The Devil, this card has taken the longest for me to complete of any I've done thus far. It wasn't that the actually painting took any longer (I spend about eight to twelve hours per card.) but I found myself unable to work on it for weeks at a time. At one point I even feared it wouldn't be finished as I repeatedly laboured to get the horns just right.

Of course the feeling of being stuck didn't last and in one afternoon of solid painting I completed it and found the energy to start my next one.

But alas, I was without canvases for a time and had to put that energy into other projects until the time when I could afford some new ones.

The next batch of canvases arrived and I proceeded to complete Love, The Moon and The Hermit rapidly. Each of these carried through to the next and I found myself coming home and painting almost every evening. One of the canvases was damaged and so it could not be used for my Tarot Cards. Instead it was used for a self portrait and a replacement was ordered.
When I began The Tower I was nervous. I do not like this card and each card I've done has managed to reflect the energy and current experience of my life. I did not feel like I had the energy for a tear down and re-build but The Tower was sticking in my head. It was the only one of the remaining few I had to do that I had a clear idea for and so I began it.

I did seem to find myself wavering. Things seemed to be coming to a head and in an effort to remedy the personal difficulties I was struggling with I rushed to complete the piece.

It is the last one I've done but not the last Tarot Card I've worked on. I have two more from that last order of canvases. They're both started, both waiting for my time and attention.

Last week my final five 24X36 inch canvases arrived. The final five canvases for a project begun in January 2009 when I still lived in Calgary and moving to London was merely an idea in a long list of ideas.

From The High Priestess to The Tower, I have now explored and created seventeen of the twenty-two cards that make up the Major Arcana of a Tarot deck. I have spent nearly two years on this project which is now nearing the end. Last year I did nine cards in twelve months. This year I've done eight in ten, so far.

It's amazing what you can accomplish in a year. Amazing to ponder, if this is what you can do in a year, what will you do in a lifetime?

I look forward to finding out.

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