Tuesday 4 April 2017

Art in focus: 'The Hermit'

'The Hermit' card is all about seeking the truth and walking a difficult, but rewarding path. In his soul searching solitude the Hermit had gained incredible wisdom, knowledge and awareness. The Hermit card suggests that through introspection, contemplation and meditation you too can achieve new heights of wisdom and spirituality. What you seek lies within you, and though its discovery may be a lonely path, it's seclusion leads you to ultimate understanding of yourself, the knowledge within you and the deeper meaning of our existence.

In many Tarot decks the The Hermit is portrayed in very similar ways. As an elderly man, who may be searching for something, usually holding aloft a lantern, which symbolises wisdom and guidance. In Rider-Waite Tarot the lantern contains a 6 pointed star within, which is the symbol of the seal of Solomon and represents wisdom. Usually the Hermit will be cloaked or hooded, and holding a staff, representing power and travelling along a narrow but ultimately rewarding path. He is alone, showing the isolation he has chosen and which gives him his power and knowledge.

When designing my Hermit I wanted to focus on his solitude and knowledge as the main themes within the piece. Initially I found it quite difficult to decide on the physical traits of the Hermit, I knew I wanted him to be cloaked and hooded, but beyond that I had no set idea of what I wanted my hermit to look like. I began to consider the symbolism of the hermit and what he meant to me, and realised I drew large parallels with the Hermit and Gandalf the Grey. Every time I thought about him that's who I saw, so a lot of Gandalf was put into my final portrayal of The Hermit. Another inspiration was 'Light of the World' by Holman Hunt. The imagery of this beautiful painting guided my illustration, though to compare it to my completed piece you wouldn't really know it.
The landscape serves as the main method of emphasising the Hermits solitude, as he stands alone in an infinite, unwelcoming mountain wilderness. He urges you to follow his path to ultimate wisdom, however it is not an easy one to tread. The stream is a recurring element in my Tarot landscapes, beginning with the fool, and symbolises the continuing story and narrative throughout the Major Acarna from start to finish.
On his staff rests a crow, revisiting the crow who first appeared in 'The Fool'. Crows are incredibly wise birds, yet are very misunderstood and have a reputation of being an ill omen. The crow represents the Hermits wisdom and how it guides him along the path of his life.

I used a very muted, nocturnal colour palette to emphasise the warmth of the Hermits lantern which represents the Hermits inner spirituality and knowledge. I chose to maintain the use of the seal of Solomon from a Rider-Waite Tarot to give my lantern a supernatural, powerful appearance. I wanted it to inspire awe and wonder on all those who look upon it, suggesting the incredible power of wisdom and knowledge.
The grey of the mountains and the hermits cloak shows his connection and oneness with the world. His appearance is like his existence; simple and honest. He has rejected the material world and the temptation it brings, instead trusting a higher purpose and his own potential in life.
I chose to set the piece at night, as I liked the notion of the Hermit romantically toiling along his path come rain or shine and even in the darkest of night. I also wanted to the pitch blackness and tiny crescent moon to emphasise the power of the Hermits inner light, which shows that with wisdom you can illuminate the whole world.

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