I bought The Circle Deck in 2007 when the artist published a first edition of 500 copies. It came with a spiral bound book. The deck came in a velvet bag with a drawstring and a plastic tag in the shape of one of the cards tied to the string, which is cute.
I bought it because he talked about the shape of the cards and how you could lay them out in a mandala, which got my attention because I like to draw mandalas occasionally. I liked the primitive artwork in watercolour and the colours and balance of colours.
The fellow who created it was an art teacher and one of my friends commented that he taught art because he couldn’t do art. I felt that was harsh as I like to see the “hand of the artist” amongst all the digital collages and photo-realism.
Some of these cards work though and some are a bit too blobby. As an example, here are six to show the three on the left (which predominate in style throughout the deck) as those that lack definition and subtlety of colour, and the three on the right as some of my favourites, showing some nice detail and techniques in watercolour.
I wanted to do a review of the deck and got quite enthusiastic about it. As usual when I review a deck I like to spend several months using it and creating art or craft things in response. I had taken one of the cards, the Choice card (on the far right, my favourite card) which reminded me of the halls of history, and took a snippet of the stripey looking part and made some beads. I had planned to make some wild impasto beads, hand painted, and maybe a polymer clay pendant using the intense yellow and blue colours.
I told the artist my plan, and he sent me a long and stern e-mail outlining several numbered points including that I wasn’t to sell anything I made from his art. I understand copyright issues and use low resolution images and copyright watermarks on most of the images I use here. I was shocked as I hadn’t intended to sell or use the beads except as a way of showing people how they could connect to their cards in a deeper way, perhaps using them as a jumping-off point in colouring their own art. Plus I was keen on a necklace, albeit in an abstract way through colour rather than an identifiable full image. He threatened me with legal action among other things. I replied with an equally scathing e-mail and that was that.
Here is a shot that I use in my database of two other favourite cards and the back. I love that violin and the shading on the blocks is wonderful.
However, as I worked with the deck I came to realize that the book was very repetitive and full of meaningless gobbledygook: all the love and light, New Age verbiage that repeats and repeats and gets tiresome if you want some depth. I eventually shredded the book as I found the keywords on the cards to be an adequate prompt without wading through the vacuous book.
The cards do look interesting laid out in a circle or segment of a circle, which you can see. Perhaps as a gentle, cheery sort of oracle they work. That’s not a bad thing, just not something I wanted in an expensive deck.