Tuesday 3 January 2017

Art in focus: 'The Sun'

As a new year is upon us I am embracing new beginnings and embarking on something different in the form of 'Tarot Tuesdays'. Each week an 'Art in focus' piece will focus on a different Tarot card, the historical significance of the card, its traditional imagery and an in depth look at my own interpretation of the card.

So let's kick off the year on a positive note with 'The Sun'!

Traditionally in Tarot 'The Sun', as the source of all life on Earth represents life, vitality and fertility. 'The Sun' card is read as a very positive sign, it brings boundless strength and happiness to your life, just as the sun brings to the earth. 'The Sun' is the most positive card in the whole of the major Acarna, so feel optimistic; the universe is on your side! 

In one of the earliest surviving Tarot decks, the Marseille Tarot, the image depicted is simply the sun, raining life upon the earth, with two figures stood beneath, possibly rejoicing and embracing. The imagery is simple in comparison to later decks, such as the Rider-Waite deck, which has complex symbolism linking to innocence and purity, as well as the vitality, happiness and optimism depicted by earlier decks. 

In my interpretation of 'The Sun' Tarot I purposely wanted the sun to dominate the card, ensuring it was the main focus of the image and portrayed a sense of strength and power.
When designing my sun I felt the inclusion of a face, to give the sun a personality and identity was essential. The expression of the face felt a very important element, and was something I did a number of sketches of to get right. I wanted the sun to appear melancholy, as he sees the world in the cold light of day, the harsh, often painful realities of mankind are all too clear to him. I wanted him to express a silent sorrow, that the life he gives is not always appreciated, rejoiced or treasured in the way it should be.
Stretching out beneath his life giving rays his bounty covers the land below. The crops and beauty he creates though the fertility he bathes the earth with is ours for the taking, but without his sustenance we would perish. Before him stands the lovers, a recurring theme within a number of my Tarot cards, symbolising fertility, the life the sun gives, and their respect for the Suns gifts, as they are enlightened, not ignorant, individuals.
The crops I chose to represent the Suns bounty are wheat and sunflowers. Wheat has been a staple food for the rich and poor for thousands of years, it has sustained entire civilizations, is one of the most ancient food sources and is still consumed all around the world everyday. The sunflower is a physical symbol of the sun and has been important in art symbolism throughout history. Sunflower crops can be seen sprawled across Europe, with their oil a major ingredient in cooking, the millions of nodding heads is quite a sight to behold, and one that always fills me with joy, hence my inclusion of it upon the card.
I chose a very rich, decadent palette for this Tarot, as I wanted it to represent the intensity of the sun and the light he brings to the world. I looked to illuminated manuscripts for my palette inspiration, as they are timeless and ancient like the sun, and capture a glowing vibrancy and true beauty. 

Sketch and progress work for 'The Sun'

'The Sun' fine art print

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