The Fool’s Progress – 2016 04 21

I’ve been pretty quiet for the last couple of weeks, for which I apologize.

I made a mistake. I got so excited about the line art for the Fool last week that I jumped right into gessoing and painting, and really messed myself up. The gesso made a lot of delicate line work hard to pick out, and then the initial attempt to plot the first layer of sky just turned into an uphill battle and ended in defeat. I ALMOST achieved the shimmering effect I was going for, without using the entire Parrish Technique, but sadly, the shortcuts, which were spurred on by impatience, led to a stunning failure. So now I’m scraping back the paint and gesso to get to the line art again, which is getting a real beating, and will force me to re-ink bits that came up with the wood. In the future, I’m going to apply a coat of acrylic titanium white instead of gesso, which really isn’t necessary with these substrates, and do my drawings over that layer instead. It’s not as neat and tidy as drawing on the raw wood, but the line art will be easier to photograph and reproduce in the future for a colouring book, and then the painting stage won’t be held up for two weeks because my lines are invisible.

Mind you, I don’t want the lines visible in the end, but I do want them visible for me in the early stages, while I get the base coats and underpainting in place. We’ll see if I regret that decision in the future. Parrish used to paint over his lines with shades of blue before going to the rest of the painting stage. I’m seriously considering that, but it’s already going to be a very blue painting, as I’m not using the golden sky effect that some Fool cards adopted. The symbolism of the golden sky seems arbitrary to me. It looks nice, and probably means a lot to some, but I think it distracts from the symbolism of the rest of the painting, including the blue sky idea, which has more resonance for me. So I split the difference with beams of radiant light from the sun, which is lower in the sky, to emphasize the notion that the Fool is walking away from something that isn’t as vital as common sense tells us.

There IS a method to my madness.


Here you can see I’ve scraped the blue sky to recover my butterfly, which I re-inked. You also get to see one of my arbitrary clouds, which I added in a fit of frustration, and regretted immediately. If I’m going to improvise clouds for this series, I need to master the art of making them look fluffy, instead of like a soft serve cone.


For over a week, I laboured over the idea of doing transfers of the line art on top to get back to work, but I made a critical mistake with a few of the more detailed areas, because it had been so long since I’d made one, I entirely forgot how important the detail work is in the beginning stages of the transfer. Yesterday, I finally resigned myself to the fact that scraping is the only way.

Also, you can see my notebook of logos for the series.


Again with the tracing paper, but you can see that I’ve been doing some heavy research to get the rest of the series planned. It’s going slowly, but I have hope of at least getting the Major Arcana sorted out.


This is the shot I took shortly before calling it a night last night. The scraping is very delicate, and requires focus and a steady hand.


And here are a few more process photos, to remind me never to make this mistake again.





And that’s all, folks. Thanks for reading. More to come soon.


Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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