Cre­ate an orig­i­nal tarot card

Dis­cover new ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proaches to per­sonal projects and telling sto­ries, as Sam Guay paints The Em­peror card for the Blood Moon Tarot

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Dis­cover new ap­proaches to per­sonal projects and telling sto­ries, with Sam Guay.

When I re­ceived my first tarot deck, I was en­chanted by the beau­ti­ful art­work and the sto­ries that ac­com­pa­nied ev­ery card. It be­came a source of in­spi­ra­tion for me: it could be used to ex­plore life’s ex­pe­ri­ences, to in­ter­pret dreams, or to ran­domly gen­er­ate ideas for char­ac­ters and sto­ries.

It was a goal of mine to cre­ate my own deck. Many years later I be­gan the long jour­ney of cre­at­ing the Blood Moon Tarot, and I’m in the midst of fin­ish­ing the Ma­jor Ar­cana. The Ma­jor Ar­cana are the iconic cards such as Death and The Fool.

The con­cept at­tached to each card is an in­te­gral part of the tarot. I find that many decks stick close to the im­agery found in the fa­mil­iar WaiteSmith Tarot, but for my own deck I wanted to ex­plore the mean­ing of each card, re­late the mean­ing to my own ex­pe­ri­ences, and then use my ex­pe­ri­ence to cre­ate my own sym­bols and a unique view of the card.

For this work­shop I’ll be paint­ing The Em­peror. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the card is of foun­da­tion, plans, and pro­tec­tion. He’s a solid oak tree grow­ing in the for­est: dif­fi­cult to sway, im­pos­si­ble to move, but a fortress for thou­sands of crea­tures that he shel­ters with strong limbs and tough bark. Each year when au­tumn turns he lays plans for other leafy strongholds and tucks them away be­neath the shells of many acorns.

I’ll walk you through the steps I take to cre­ate the card art. Tarot decks can vary in size; for my own I chose to stick with typ­i­cal tarot card di­men­sions – about 3x5 inches. Though I pri­mar­ily work in wa­ter­colour, you’ll see that some­times I in­cor­po­rate acryla-gouache, ink and crayons. Each card is a new prob­lem to solve, and by stay­ing open to a va­ri­ety of so­lu­tions I’ve dis­cov­ered new medi­ums and tech­niques dur­ing the creation of the deck. Lurk­ing in the gloomy forests of New Eng­land, Sam pur­sued art and sto­ry­telling to doc­u­ment her trav­els in the dream lands. You can see other ex­am­ples of her work at

Orig­i­nal tarot card

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