Posted tagged ‘art’

Database in Medieval Blue

November 15, 2016


Guido Zibordi Marchesi illustrated the Medieval Tarot that I am discussing today, as well as the Giotto Tarot, one of my first and favourite decks, and the Bruegel Tarot which illustrates many of the Netherlandish Proverbs. The only deck of his that I don’t have is the Michelangelo Tarot.

He does beautiful architectural illustrations and models as well as paintings, and you can see how meticulous in detail and research he is by viewing his biography and a list of his various exhibits. These sites are in Italian but you can use Google Translate to get the gist of them. He is a real master of words and art, no wonder he is one of my favourite Lo Scarabeo illustrators.

For me, I look at an artist like this, and it drives me to purchase decks that an artist has spent some time researching and creating. Lo Scarabeo decks usually excel at this, I have great respect for that attitude.

What really attracted me to the deck was the blue skies and backgrounds, so reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts which are an interest of mine. Ultramarine in those days was made from lapis lazuli, and Guido Zibordi Marchesi captures that feel of the Middle Ages in these colours. This deck was published in 2007 and still holds up for me, a gem of people and colour, initiating a grand old browse through my many books about illuminated manuscripts.


The Tower card is very like castles depicted in illuminated manuscripts, particularly the castle of the Duc Jean de Berry in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry where his castle is seen on the calendar for September.


You can see more examples from the book here.

As examples, two other 15th century manuscripts that have the style and colours that perhaps inspired this deck are The Bedford Hours, made for John, Duke of Bedford, and the Bouquechardière Chronicle by Jean de Courcy, also known as Chronique de la Bouquechardière.

The descriptions for the deck are priceless:

“A medieval inspiration: The Art of Memory is one of the greatest secrets handed down by alchemists and medieval sorcerers. The later Middle Ages have a brighter aspect, marked by the rebirth of the arts, philosophy, and sciences. It is the second period that inspired Guido Zibordi to paint the Medieval Tarot. These 78 cards, in fact, recall the magnificence of the princely courts and pastimes of the courtiers, the battles of the Crusades, the solitary study of philosophers and discussions of theologians, the daily work and beliefs of the common people.

This is not, however, a commemorative or historical deck. On the contrary, the Medieval Tarot contains the spirit of Ars memorandi, a memory system passed down in the schools aimed at developing intellectual qualities and spiritual virtues. The Ars memorandi, which attributed an exemplary value to images, without a doubt traces the first Tarot decks back to its origin, a “wordless book” that taught the rules of true nobility, that of the intellect and soul.

Today like in the past, simple yet profound rules let each individual follow a path of improvement and reach the top of an invisible ladder uniting the material world with the spiritual dimension.”


One of the reasons I’ve been keen on decks for 16 years is the spiritual dimension described above, the ideal of archetype and Medieval pageantry, lush, saturated colour steeped in history, and the human world absorbing and reflecting it.

How could you resist the courtly ideal of it all?

The Rustle of Silk in Light

July 9, 2015

Another beautiful postcard from across the pond, this time received this year.

The Hon. Lady Baillie and her daughters, Susan and Pauline at Leeds Castle, Kent
by Etienne Drain 1947 © Leeds Castle Foundation


What I love about this is the light, the way you can almost feel the light coming through those spectacular windows, and washing over the viewer too.

Lady Baillie looks like she is wearing pleated silk chiffon and the girl in the blue dress must be wearing velvet. The girl on the right must be wearing raw silk. The whole thing is suffused with light and palpable texture, and then streams out over the lake into the green.

The View From The Window
by Ronald Stuart Thomas

Like a painting it is set before one,
But less brittle, ageless; these colours
Are renewed daily with variations
Of light and distance that no painter
Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
A black mood; but gold at evening
To cheer the heart. All through history
The great brush has not rested,
Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
Looking coolly, or, as we now,
through the tears’ lenses, ever saw
This work and it was not finished?




Database Mystics, Poets, and Darn Fine Artists

May 11, 2015

I notice that Penelope Cline has published her first full tarot deck, the Liminal Tarot, which reminded me of the one deck of hers I own.

That sort of expensive deck is well out of my price range these days but I bought her first deck The Mystic Rubaiyat, and because of the currency exchange and extra tax and administration fees when it came into Canada, it cost me $180 CAD. I used money from a settlement at my old job to pay for it, as it’s not the sort of thing I could afford regularly. I went through hell at that job, I figured I would get something tangible and uplifting from it.

I believe she still has copies of it available. For me, this is the epitome of her watercolour style and approach to art and literature. As she has mentioned on forums, some of these cards are very tarot-like, or at least like some of the Majors.

I wanted to get her Wild Green Chagallian Tarot which is a Majors-only deck and her Pen Tarot but could never afford them. However, Penelope did point me to a good biography of Chagall which I ordered in from the library and greatly enjoyed. I never really got Chagall until I saw Penelope’s deck and read the biography by Jackie Wullschlager.

It’s always worth talking to the artist and exploring, even if you can’t buy their deck!


“The Mystic Rubaiyat is a set of seventy-five cards created to illustrate the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s “translation” into English of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, part of a collection of four-line verses that survive from eleventh-century Persia.

The words of the appropriate quatrain appear below every illustration and in each of the decorated doorways, providing for a two-fold key to meditation.”


Apart from Penelope’s artwork, I bought this because my favourite Uncle used to recite passages from this particular Fitzgerald translation. I have copy 2/100 which rather astounds me as I’m generally not in on trends at the beginning, nor do I have money to buy limited editions, but I had that money from the job from hell and I used it wisely. The pleasant reverberations from this deck after a horrible few years are what I remember, and that’s as it should be.

This comes in presentation box with ribbon and a 17-page booklet and was released in 2007. I assume I bought it in that year; I remember writing my Uncle and telling him about the deck and he died early in 2009, so I just got it in time. It’s one of the finest things I own, simply because the artist has her own way and interests and they shine in her decks.

I’ve used it here if you want to see more cards.

Pleasant reverberations; the hand of the artist; the intellect and knowledge of the artist; shimmering colour and light; words and poetry. FINE, very fine.



Happy Dappy Doo-lah-la

February 9, 2015

Database Monday will come later, I had some dancing to do.

An interesting interpretation by Pharrell of his song Happy on the Grammy Awards last night. Man, I love his video. The world needs such joy.

All in all the broadcast actually featured real music (rather than electronically enhanced bimbos wearing hooker outfits) and I loved the ELO set because they did Mr. Blue Sky, a song I’ve mentioned before.


Some interesting juxtapositions of artists and genres. Okay, we’ve covered the Grammys, except for Kanye’s tacky interruption when Beck won his Grammy. He fortunately caught hold of himself and sat down before he opened his mouth. Unfortunately he didn’t keep it closed.

On to today’s card!

Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague
Govert Flinck (1615-1660)
Meisje bij een tafelstoel / Girl by a highchair 676


Not surprisingly, Flinck was a student of Rembrandt, he has captured the Master’s trick of bringing things out of the shadows. This little girl is enchanting, from her rosy cheeks to her fancy clothes.

I bet she would dance to Happy.



Five Faves From Five Freshies

November 27, 2014

I had only planned to buy one deck for Christmas but out of the blue four more came. I hadn’t planned it but they came to my attention and that was that.

I chose a favourite card from each deck for eye candy today.

I mentioned this card in my review, but the Alchemy/Bison card from The Messenger Cards by Sandra Kunz is my absolute favourite from that deck.


Next up was the Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot. Some people find this creepy but it’s different for me and so I like it.


This is the Knave of Wands looking very much like a 16th-17th century Dutch painting, or even Della Robbia-like to me. Years ago I wanted to buy a very expensive 7-inch Della Robbia Christmas tree for Skye Cottage, one of my dollhouses but it’s just too expensive. These days it sells for $100 or more so it’s way out of my league.

Then Beverly King’s wonderful Lojong for the Layperson cards came to me. Card 51 really struck my eye because of the sundial. In my childhood we used to visit an elderly woman with a sundial and a Pekingese dog. I don’t know who she was but I remember that magical sundial and dog. Around the edge of the sundial is some Spanish moss, and unripe hickory nuts are resting on the dial. It’s such a good composition and has lovely colour.


I finally received the two decks by Sue Lion this week. In the Magic & Myth deck this popped out at me. I love pots of flowers and this card is about blooms in the Spring. I thought it was a geranium and it seems to be the Cranesbill variation judging by the serrated leaves and five petals. It looks like Geranium x oxonianum ‘Claridge Druce’ but I’m not sure. Close enough!


The last deck is also by Sue Lion, this bit of magnificent art is from her EartHeart Wisdom deck. She has numerous trees and variations in this deck which was why I bought it since I love trees. This one is titled Flying West on the back of the card and since we are planning to move and fly west next year this really appealed to me.


Scans really don’t capture the depth of colour in these cards but I’m glad I splashed out and bought them all.



Unhinge Your Anhinga Wingspan

March 10, 2013

Daily Draw March 10th, 2013

This is usually the date when the robins return here. I haven’t seen any yet or my favourite red-wing blackbirds, another harbinger of Spring. In the meantime I am sewing and embroidering to keep my sanity until I can get outside.



Another bird I knew nothing about. This bird (Anhinga anhinga), is found in the warmer climate of the southern United States, Cuba, Trinidad, Mexico, and in South America, but there are several species around the world in India, Africa, and Australia too. The Tupi people, an indigenous group from Brazil, had a myth where a demonic and malevolent forest spirit or devil bird featured called anhinga. Thus their language comes down to us in the name attached to this bird. They also gave us the words, tapioca, jaguar, and jacaranda among others. Imagine.

Anhinga are part of the Darter family and are sometimes called snakebirds because their long necks can move out ahead of them in trees and water, sometimes twisted like the body of a snake they are so long, so that you might think it was a snake if you didn’t see the rest of the body. They are called water turkeys too which is self-explanatory given their colouring and size; they are very large at 30 or more inches with a wingspan of 40 and more inches.

They look remarkably like cormorants but their tails and bills are different as you can see in this comparison.


Very beautiful, and you can see how Charley Harper has captured the essence of the bird in his marvelous illustration.

My husband is taking the drain apart again in the kitchen and making a second attempt to get it right. We have a call into our contractor and he will come by next week to talk about renovations in this kitchen. The more we do now, the easier it will be to sell and escape after retirement. Twenty-six years of repairs and attendant dramas have simply worn us out.

I did manage to do a small laundry last night with the washing machine. I did a small one in case anything went wrong, but the new sump pump worked fine and the pipes in the lawn seem to be draining fine. We are experiencing a thaw here, which might have helped, but I really think the old pump had died. My husband found plastic bits in the hole when he replaced it and things had broken off at the footing and in the check valve, which keeps the water from surging back into the house. I am still crossing my fingers that the new pump and valve on the pipe will rectify the problem.

We darters have things to do and places to go.



Let the Sea Take Us Away

October 22, 2012

Daily Draw October 22nd, 2012

This is from my Art Postcards:

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (Scottish 1864-1933)
The Opera of the Sea, c. 1910
Oil and tempera on sized paper 56 11/16 x 63 in.
Hessisches-Landesmuseum, Darmstadt

(Click to enlarge)

Margaret Macdonald and her sister were highly involved in the Scottish art scene even before she married Rennie Mackintosh, and I like the quality of her work.

She created a series called The Voices in the Wood and this panel and another one called The Opera of the Winds were part of that. Both were originally gesso panels designed around 1903 for the home of Fritz Warndorfer in Vienna. I prefer the coloured version of this, but the gesso seems to have more texture to it as you might expect from the heavy use of a ground like that.

The larger, coloured version of The Opera of the Winds has been lost, and here is the original gesso painting of my card.

They are both nice. The bottom figure is rather sepulchral, and the top figure has a mother and baby, floating, perhaps a reminiscence of the womb. The figure on the right has classic Art Nouveau flowers and reminds me of Ophelia, drifting on the water amid her flowers. The four figures on the left are a bit sepulchral as well, as if they are entombed in caves where their dead heads flat to the top. In the gesso version they look more like they are on a ship and caught in the sail.

I like the idea of floating on the sea today. Bubbles and comfort and quietude.