Painting alchemy to expose what's hidden in plain sight

If you pay close attention, you'll discover that we're immersed in a world of symbols and subliminal messages every seconds of every day. Many of these symbols come from centuries of cultural beliefs and practices from all over the world and I find them fascinating. 

Back at the beginning of 2020, before the whole world was essentially turned upside down, I was inspired to start a new series of paintings around the four classical elements : Fire, Air, Water and Earth. I love to dive deep into unconventional topics and discover the meanings behind every day symbols and wanted to explore how the elements impact us through my art. I find art to be a great teacher, allowing me to see more than meets the eyes and love sharing that with others who are also interested in these topics. The more I look into it, the more I discover fascinating connections between us and our environment. 

It all started when it dawned on me that my cloud paintings were visual representations of thoughts and the intellect. It felt aligned with the astrological belief that the element of air represents the intellect. If each elements represents an aspect of us, what more could I find out about them through my paintings? This was essentially the premise for me to start a new art series. One thing I learned from doing some research is that the elements are represented in playing cards and tarot cards. 

  • The element of air is represented by swords in the tarot and the spade symbol in playing cards. Its alchemical symbol is a triangle with a horizontal line crossing it. Air represents the mind. 
  • The element of fire is represented by the wands in the tarot and the club symbol in playing cards. Its alchemical symbol is a simple triangle. Fire represents the soul. 
  • The element of water is represented by cups in the tarot and the heart symbol in playing cards. Its alchemical symbol is an inverted triangle.  Water represents emotions. 
  • The element of earth is represented by coins in the tarot and the diamond symbol in playing cards. Its alchemical symbol is an inverted triangle with a line crossing it. Earth represents the body. 

Ace cards from The Hermetic Tarot Dect

Ace cards from the Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot Deck

Ace reinterpretation paintings from my  elemental series

With that in mind, I sought out to recreate the four Aces found in tarot and playing cards through my art.  The aces, from my current research and understanding, represent a beginning. In the traditional tarot card, a hand is typically present, as you can see in the sample tarot cards below. So I reinterpreted them by creating images where my hand would be "holding" each of the elements in suspension and came up with the four elemental paintings shown below. 

There's something fascinating about the fact that the four elements are at the foundation of many cultural, philosophical, spiritual and healing practices all over the world. And I can't help but think that if it's prevalent in so many practices, there's something valuable to learn from this. Which is what I sought out to find out and will be sharing with you in future posts. 

Get your own copy of these alchemical paintings on Society6 here : Fire, Air, Water, Earth