Portraiture has been around since ancient Egypt and possibly even beyond. From statues of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten to coins depicting Julius Caesar, portraiture has been around for thousands of years.
Traditionally it was only those in power or who had great wealth that could commission portraits. The royals all have their portraits, along with the U.S Presidents.
Yet while photography, and now video, have, for the most part, replaced the hand produced "immortalisation" technique of portraiture, hand drawn portraits have stood the test of time. What's more. You don't have to be the next president or born into royalty to afford a great portrait.
For those of you in the Tarot world, I have begun to once again take commissions for portraits. While it's probably one of the more time consuming services that an artist might offer, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. (We're currently offering portraits around 60 dollars) . I understand that to some that seems like a low price (when compared to other artists) but I'm also aware of the current economical climate.
One of the most important aspects in portraiture, both for the artist and for the "sitter", is whether the finished pieces actually look like the figures. Take the Queen of England for example. There are some really great portraits of her, but there are also some which are a bit....well, not the most flattering. That's why I feel it's important to see a few examples of portraits I've already worked on.
First up is my partner Christine.
Please note while the cards are designed and inspired by Valentine's day, we make no guarantees that the cards will arrive on Valentines (in fact it's next to impossible). That being said, love is supposed to last much longer than the 14th of February right?! lol Love is for life, not just for Valentines!
reading and not knowing how to even read the cards; maybe even doing more damage than good. I saw elderly women walking away from readings distraught, sometimes even in tears and thought "Should I be contributing to this with my art?" Then again, for all I knew the reader was delivering the truth. Tears didn't necessarily mean a "bad" reading in the sense that it's not accurate. Yet going on my own experience with some of these readers, they could not read me at all. Some psychics even felt brave enough to name names of my family members etc, but I never understood this braveness when they must've known there was a high chance it would be inaccurate. (Since they always were). I wanted to believe, but I needed to be convinced...
(Above is Mrs White's residence in Rumford, Rhode Island) Since then I've heard a few optimistic stories like this and I came to the conclusion that illustrating decks of cards can have a noble purpose.
I've had readings from a small number of people in my life. A woman called Doire who lives a few miles away foresaw a relationship with Christine a few weeks after I met Christine online (I had not met her in person at that point) She was actually able to give a name.
Where once I was a bit of a skeptic, I've become a believer. So it makes me wonder. With foresight, what would you do differently? What would you change?
What fascinates me most of all however, is those readers who decide to give a brutally honest reading rather than one that you think your client wants to hear. How honest should a reader be?
I think this is a question that every reader has to answer individually for themselves, on behalf of their clients. Do you do what Mrs White did and tell the client the horrible news that the client is already aware of? Do you deliver the bad news that they are NOT aware of?
A troublesome question I often see in Tarot forums is whether to deliver the bad news that the person their client is in love with is "just not right for them" or the relationship is destined to fail. I can only imagine that there is a little apprehension about delivering bad news to a client. After all, one's wish is to always make their client happy. It's the first thing we learn when we come to conducting most any kind of business. In an ideal world a client would WANT to hear the truth, even if it is not the outcome they would wish to hear.
Looking at this objectively I think many clients seek a reading, not necessarily for an unbiased opinion, but to seek affirmation about a situation. They want to hear their desires and wishes repeated back to them. Romantic relationships, especially, can be sensitive topics and when one is caught up in the feelings of love, they do not want to hear negativity.
Many reporters in the UK will sometimes say that it is the first time that the U.S had two of the most hated candidates to choose from, yet I feel this is slightly misleading. Yes, Trump is hated, but mostly on the left. He was fairly elected on the Republican side. There doesn't seem to be any scandal on the Republican side in choosing one candidate over the other, like there was with Wasserman-Shulz and the DNC fiasco. Trump was not the republican establishment pick, true, but he still seems to have beat the other 17 contenders fairly. In terms of diversity, i.e individual states and counties and the demograhpics of these states and counties, Trump seems to be favoured as the end result, yet even before Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, those inclined to vote Republican (or vote Trump as the next best thing to an independent after Bernie's defeat) could have voted for at least a few other candidates besides Trump.
With all movements, nations are divided. Trump's inauguration speech contained some hope, some inspiration towards the idea of uniting the country, but people can't be united if the message of unity and the very president himself are continually undermined by satirists, popular comedians and propagandists inside the very country itself.
Trump said " whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots ", and said that the one thing that will unite people is a sense of patriotism. I tend to agree but only as long as those who are undocumented in the country are not treated harshly.
Trump spoke often of God in his speech and so I would urge all to quote often, these words. In a world not adverse to holy scripture and the Lord, it would be good for a bible quotation like this to go viral.. “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God"
People are saying that Trump himself needs to unite the people of America, yet I do not believe this will happen until the mainstream media takes some of the responsibility.
Trump's inauguration speech was critcized by some on MSNBC like Chris Matthews as being "Hitlerish". The media know very well what they are doing. They know how much power they have over the minds of the people. At some point the media need to become more responsible, not nessesarily for the president's sake, but for the sake of preserving law and order
It is they who have compared him to Hitler, along with the likes of Don Cheadle and the rest of Hollywood through big production commercials. It is Clinton who declared that half of Trump's supporters are iredeemable, and so on. None of those protesting Trump respect him, and so this idea that Trump has to bring them together seems unlikely to work. Honestly I don't know what will happen.
A CALL FOR SOME UNDERSTANDING
So I sat thinking about this last night. I noted the amount of times i've been called really nasty names over the past few years by some people, in regards to politics, and to a lesser degree my art and how it made people feel. I had been called a lot of things and there is this desire to get back at those that call you names. I have tried to always refrain from that, probably more in the past year or so because you can send a better message to people by remaining positive and understanding the frustrations of the people who call you nasty names. It is very difficult to do, but worth it.
I realised that it would be very easy for me to call those who don't agree with me a nasty name, regardless of if the name matched the person's true belief, in the same way that I have been called a racist and a bigot without the person knowing whether I am a racist or not. This was the mistake that CNN contributor Van Jones and Michael Moore made when, without wanting to understand Trump supporters, they assumed, ignorantly, and surprisingly I might add for such notable and influenticial figures, that all Trump supporters were racist. It wasn't until both of them went out and met some middle America Trump supporters that education was allowed to take place.
The fundamental thing to understand in all of this is that everyone, from the homeless man on the street, to the politicians, believes they themselves are right and that anyone who disagrees is wrong. We dig our heels in when our beliefs are challenged. Violent attacks on Trump supporters will undoubtedly increase the numbers of extreme right groups in the same way that attacks on the left will throw them into the arms of more extreme left wing groups. Everyone feels the need to belong.
Ultimately a nation divided cannot be brought together by one man, but rather it must be brought together by showing kindness to each other, regardless of political belief, race, gender etc. With over 300 milion in the U.S, people simply do not become "united" because a leader says so. Rather it is up to the people. At this point we can't even rely on Hollywood to promote unity for they themselves have proven to be enlisted in the efforts to divide the country. We cannot rely on the mainstream media who's owners are paid to incite racism (CNN's Don Lemon suggesting the disabled Trump Supporter being tortured "isn't evil", or the recent fake news about the MLK Jr's bust being removed from the White House apparently for the purpose of adding fuel to the flames of the protests). It is the peacemakers, the brave souls of the world who are willing to embrace each other despite differences, who will unite the nation. I think the healing must start with random acts of kindness towards those we hate the most and this MUST happen from both sides.
WHY I BELIEVE TRUMP WON THE PRESIDENCY AS EARLY AS AUGUST 2016
During the Lousiana floods when Trump and Pence went down to help distribute items to the public personally, I got huge criticism both publicly and in private, for praising Trump. At that time I told people on Facebook that this will secure Trump's victory. It didn't matter if Trump was there for a publicity shoot. At the time Obama was also having a very different publicity shoot whether he liked it or not. Obama was pictured playing golf, Clinton was nowhere to be found, and Trump and Pence were in Lousiana helping distribute items to the people. I knew that if the elections were fair Trump would win. Anyone with even an smidgen of knowledge in marketing knew that Trump knew what he was doing. Then again Trump has not always been the best at personal relations so I could be totally wrong. Let me be clear that I am not trying to critizize Clinton or Obama. I am merely saying that for the sake of appearances, Trump's visit to Lousiana during the floods and being filmed personally handing out items to the people, secured his win over Lousiana, and possibly neighboring states.
This was important, not only for his campaign, but for the appearance of the Republican party since years previously, George Bush Jr. was heavily criticised for a lacklustre response to Hurricane Katrina.
Regardless I was not wrong. At the time of writing Trump is now the President of the U.S. We can shout Putin and Russia all day long, but I find this a little disrespectful to the millions of people that voted for Trump across such a huge nation, including Lousiana. Trump was mocked constantly for fearing that the elections would be rigged against him. Trump supporters were considered pathetic for thinking the election could be rigged. Clinton mocked him on this in the debates. Obama himself came out and said it was virtually impossible to hack the voting machines. While initially I was unconvinced, I guess I may have no choice but to agree with Obama on that one point. Could Russia have hacked the machines? Possibly. Yet on the side of the left, Scott Foval and Bob Creamer may also have been engaged in rigging elections, since Foval claimed they'd been rigging the elections for over 50 years. There may have been multiple sources of manipulation, from both sides. Whether these allegations will be investigated remains to be seen.
We only have to point out the fact that Vincent Van Gogh died penniless, having sold only one painting in his lifetime.
Greatness is something more than that. Presumably Van Gogh would have loved wealth in his own lifetime, yet today he is considered one of the greats in the art world and his paintings sell for millions of dollars.
As a general rule, I’d like to sum up what makes something great by doing a bit of ad-lib on one of the quotes of my childhood hero Stan Lee. (I can’t find the actual quote unfortunately).
Lee said something along the lines of the great thing about comics is that you have to love comics personally to keep doing it because comics is the kind of medium that demands so much time and energy and eats through so much material in terms of storylines and plot, that someone with low dedication would burn out really quickly.
Ok, so that’s a more elaborate explanation, but in summary, it basically means that to create good comics you need to love with you’re doing.
When I designed most of the characters for King’s Journey, I really loved what I was doing because I had never seen a full story taking place in a tarot deck before. I mean King’s Journey tracks the journey of a young boy who at the end of the deck, is basically a much older, full bearded, long haired man with a wife and child. I had never seen an actual story played out in a Tarot deck like that before.
For Twisted Tarot Tales, each image was a labour of love because I got to draw all the monsters and crazy scenes that, let’s face it, anyone into comic book art would have fun imagining. My co creator Christine has been a fan of horror comics and film since she was a kid growing up in the 70’s.
The Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot is another one of our successful decks thanks to Christine’s love of and knowledge of Chinese Propaganda Art along with the historical background the art is based on.
In short, the best works of art, writing, music or film, almost always comes from a love of the genre which you’re basing your work on.
"To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. (...) I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I’m not blaming anyone for Dragonball but myself.”
Dragon Ball: Evolution was apparently so bad that Akira Toriyama; creator of the original manga, revealed that he felt the Hollywood producers did not listen to him and his ideas and suggestions, and that the final version was not on par with the original Dragon Ball series.
He felt the result was a movie he couldn't even call "Dragon Ball". Discussing the film in the 2016 Dragon Ball 30th Anniversary “Super History Book”, Toriyama wrote: "I had put Dragon Ball behind me, but seeing how much that live-action film ticked me off..."
I haven’t seen the movie personally, nor have I ever read or know anything about the manga the movie is based on, but there’s a two things we can take away from what Ramsey said…
1, He went into the project, not as a fan but as a businessman hoping for a big payday.
In other words he believed he would be able to cash in on the Dragonball name itself, ( purely a business like attitude of course, but one that cost him) rather than caring about the content.
2, He learned that when you go into a creative project without any passion about the content you’re working with you come out with much poorer results, and “sometimes flat out garbage”
There you have it readers. If you want to pursue something and make it great, take a word of advice from Ramsey and create something on a subject you’re passionate about!
I've always done my best to support new Kickstarter projects in our industry If I think they are good and of course, if they happen to pass my radar! As a self employed artist, you can imagine I don't always have the "disposable income" that I wish I had to be able to support such projects more fully, but at the very least I like to share links etc. Here is the Venetian Carnival Tarot and it is currently ongoing on Kickstarter. Here is their facebook page if you'd like to see more!
In interviews Schulz stated that Linus represented his spiritual side and this was clearly seen in A Charlie Brown Christmas when, at the end, Linus tells the viewers “the true meaning of Christmas”.
When I was younger, I can’t say the Peanuts strip or the Charlie Brown TV show really appealed to me very much. Rather, like most cases, it was the artist behind the cartoon. Why do people like Schulz dedicate their lives to drawing pictures? What type of person would do that and do they feel the same way I do about drawing pictures? These thoughts occur to you from time to time. In my teens and early twenties I began looking into the history of some of these iconic creators because the process was probably what appealed to me the most. I would like to read interviews and the opinions of those artists that were behind the creation of such iconic figures.
“Schulz drew a new Peanuts strip for each day of the year for almost 50 years, essentially creating over 18,000 original pieces each published and syndicated in newspapers throughout the world.”
Creating something from the ground up, as any business owner who has done so can attest, requires tremendous patience and dedication, and seeing something simple, or small, grow into something of a big deal is really inspiring for those of us on that journey. Perhaps what is most impressive though is Schulz’s ability to preserve the spirit of his characters after such huge success. All too often when someone makes it big, they lose the spirit and originality that made them, or their creation, popular in the first place. Often we see this with music, where a band might have a few good records at the beginning and fade out when either they’ve said all they “needed to say” or reached the level of fame they had originally sought. I am not certain if it is officially known if Schulz based Charlie Brown on himself or not but I expect so, and I think he grew along with his characters which was why he was able to preserve the spirit of the Peanuts gang.
Have a great Christmas or holiday season!
This is a continuation piece from the newsletter. Never miss a story by signing up to our newsletter where we cover the decks and projects we're working on along with various interesting articles that come our way.
A Recap of the story so far - My uncle had contracted a combine harvester to cut the barley in his field when I was about 10 years old. The combine harvester wheel fell into an underground hole and a cave was discovered.
Now, to continue on with the story
We weren’t able to see much by torch light and so we put off exploring the cave until the next day. With my uncle, and my dad we explored the cave together. We found a bottom floor to the cave, but no one would be able to fit down the hole that led to it except me. At the time, as a 10 year old, I was a lot skinnier than I am now, and so I ventured into the cave’s bottom. It was a square hole and maybe about a 6 foot crawl downwards until I reached the bottom. On the bottom was a flat floor with four walls. One of the walls to my left had a square cut out of the wall, which led into another room. To enter the smaller room to the left, you’d have to crawl through the “window” area, or what looked like a “window” frame, not with glass obviously, but where you could see into another smaller room that looked like a little storage area. My parents wondered if maybe the lower room was for a safety area for kids since adults, at least adults in our day and age, weren’t able to fit down into the lower room.
We know that the spiral, for example, seems to be the one pattern in life that is seen everywhere, and if you’ve ever heard or read the Manga graphic novel Uzimaki you’ll see the funny side! Spirals are everywhere in nature. You can find spirals in everything from snail shells and spider webs, to hurricanes and tornados, even the Milky Way. Spirals were also important in much of ancient art, from the natives in Sedona to Celtic spirals in Newgrange, Ireland.
James is the artist behind the illustrations on this site, maintains the website, writes the blogs and puts together the newsletter.