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Ask KnightHawk — Frustrated Artist

August 23, 2010

Dear KnightHawk,
I am a portrait painter who recently graduated with a degree in Fine Art, and I have reached an artist’s block in which I find my paintings dull and uninspiring. I used to obsess over my painting, but now I am obsessing over the idea of painting and find my artwork lacking in concept. This is due to art school, which opened my eyes about contemporary art and how painting has changed, but I am not a big fan of abstract or modern art.
My passion has died down to the point that I don’t feel the joy of painting that I had for such a long time.  My question is how can I regain my passion for painting with a concept that will keep me going full throttle?
Frustrated Artist


Dear Frustrated Artist,

Thank you for requesting a reading on this interesting topic. (As you may gather from my choice of style in my Tarot of the Masters deck, I’m not a big fan of abstract or modern art either.)  Here are the cards I dealt for you to find out how you can regain your passion for painting:

The Moon -- Tarot of the Masters . Queen of Wands -- Tarot of the Masters . Three of Wands -- Tarot of the Masters

Card 1 (Major Arcana Card for Spiritual advice) – The Moon
Card 2 (Court Card for traits to develop or emphasize) – Queen of Wands
Card 3 (PIP card for suggested action) – Three of Wands

A general, overview message here is that you have entered a state of confusion (The Moon) because you have been relying on the inspiration and support of “experts” (Queen of Wands) instead of finding your own creative vision (Three of Wands) of what you want your art to be.
Individually, here is what the cards are saying:

The Moon:

As a symbol of the night, the moon is associated with our dreams — the fantastic and magical worlds of imagination and of the divine. And so the Moon card says, “Follow your dreams, and listen to them for inspiration.” As a warning, though, be aware that when you rummage around in your mind’s dark and dusty attic in search of lost treasures, monsters (the fears we suppress) lurk there too. But our spiritual path takes us into the darkness in order that we may face our fears (and this may be where your soul is taking you now), but with courage, we can overcome them. So take some time to examine your fears, because that’s where your blockage really comes from.  One way to do this is to pay attention to your dreams. Do you keep a dream journal? If not, at least keep a pen and paper by your bed to write what you can remember of your dreams when you wake up in the morning.

On a practical level, in terms of finding a concept for your portraiture, consider this quote from Mark Twain: “Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” So, consider if there may be a way to use your paintings to reveal a glimpse of that hidden side of people.

Queen of Wands:

The advice of the Tarot’s queens comes from the heart more than from the head.  It sounds like you have been thinking more than feeling about your art, so one piece of advice from this card is to get out of your head and into your heart instead. This card also urges you to find confidence in yourself and your vision for you art — to start relying on your vision, not that of your teachers. Doing this will support your passion and enthusiasm.

As advice specific to your question as it relates to portraiture, this card urges you to cultivate a deep appreciation for the people whose portraits you paint. You aren’t just painting their faces, you know.  You’re painting their hearts and souls too, and you need to be able to understand them, appreciate them, and empathize with them in order to do that.

Three of Wands:

The advice of this card is to combine foresight and patience in order to find success. And so, as noted previously, it is important for you to discover your own vision of what you want your art to be, and in fact, this may be the key to this reading.  Perhaps consider the practical advice noted in the prior two cards and use that to synthesize a vision of what you want to do with your art.

Note also that the contra-positive card for the Three of Wands is the Eight of Cups.  Thus, an implicit warning here is that finding and acting upon your vision for your art may require you to leave behind old ways of doing things — ways that you have an emotional attachment to. Also, moving in this direction may seem like you are on a lonely road, but it can lead you to an artistic expression that is more fulfilling than the old ways you’ve been taught and practiced.


To help you in this situation, I would like to leave you with the following affirmations, which are adapted from my book, Tarot Affirmations. (You can read more about using affirmations with Tarot cards in a recent blog post.)  Feel free, of course, to pick and choose among them and to adjust them to suit yourself.

The first affirmation is based on the Moon card:
I examine my dreams fearlessly, and I discover what they reveal about my heart and soul.

Next are a couple based on the Queen of Wands:
I always use a positive approach to solve my problems.
I recognize and support the creative spark in my life.

Finally, here are two affirmations that work well with the Three of Wands:
I have a clear vision of what I want to achieve.
I have all the patience, confidence, and determination that I need to accomplish my goals.

Bright Blessings,



“Ask KnightHawk” Readings:  If you would like to get an “Ask KnightHawk” reading from me, click on the Ask KnightHawk tab at the top of the page for more information. And if you would like to read a collection of KnightHawk readings for mythical, fictional, and historical figures, you will love my books Tarot Reading Explained and Tarot: Get the Whole Story.

Tarot Deck:  The deck used for this reading was my own Tarot of the Masters which you can only purchase from me. 

Private Readings:  Note that I offer private readings that are more in-depth.  They can be on the telephone, via Skype, using email, or in person (if you are in the Los Angeles area.)  For more information about that, see my reading services page.

Archives: To see past “Ask KnightHawk” readings, see the KnightHawk Readings Index page.


Disclaimer: A Tarot reading is not a substitute for medical, psychological, financial, or legal counseling.  For such advice, please consult a qualified professional. The information provided in a Tarot reading is not legally binding and the Tarot reader assumes no legal liability for any damages, losses, or other consequences of any client decisions or actions, subsequent to, or based on, this service.

  1. I want to note that in the original version of this reading, I made a mistake in calculating the contra positive card. Luckily, I have great readers and a couple of them — Davina and Anna Tasselli Kocher — discovered my mistake and notified me so I could correct it and update the reading appropriately.
    Well! That’s what I get for working on my blog when I’m tired. 😦
    But using contra positive cards is still relatively new to me too, and I’m still practicing it. Fortunately, our mistakes help us learn, so I’ll never make that mistake again.
    Bright Blessings,

  2. Really enjoyed your blog! I hope those who discovered your mistake also became inspired with your insights and gave you some strokes for your great writing!
    Best of taroting!!!!

  3. frustrated artist permalink

    Hi James,
    Thank you so much for helping me out. The most challenging things sometimes are the ones you are afraid to confront. You were RIGHT on the MONEY! On several occasions I have received these cards in the past, especially the Queen of Wands but I have never really understood why? I was wondering where I could find my passion? but the Moon was a reality check. The moon was the most challenging card because it does talk about deep stemmed emotions and dreams that I have really let go of. Too many setbacks and fear of failure or whatnot.

    I really like the fact that you pointed out that I should stop over-intellectualizing my art and confront my fears and dreams. In fact, I did have a big dream of a big tree that was so supernatural, that it scared me to look at it. It was a confrimation of this reading, and yes, I have been scared to see these things and see them as obstacles because they are things that make me feel very vulnerable about myself if i were to expose them to the public. so pushing these things to a new creative height is what i really need and you were able to steer me into this direction. I am so happy and scared but what the heck.

    I also like the fact the three of wands and its contra-positive is the 8 of cups came out to telling another truth about me that I didn’t tell you, but I own my own petsitting and doggie daycare business and I have been contemplating about moving either to LA, San Fran or NY and looking for an arts related job. I want to live in a place where I can grow as an artist but have been really afraid to do the move. So this is also steering me to make my move….just the thought of my move makes my tummy ache.

    Also,I thought your little list of songs associated with the tarot was so cool that make me think about situations with understanding readings, so this is what I understand or associate with your reading like the songs/persona that I associate the moon is Ozzie’s Bark at the moon or Crazy on You by Heart, and I always think of Madonna or lady Gaga with the queen of wands. The three of wands-come and see the show by emerson lake and palmer, 8 of cups-the power of good-bye by madonna.

    I really appreciate and love your reading, thanks so much and hope this isn’t the last. You have inspired me and you rock…I will be buying your books too.

    Best wishes and big hug,
    frustrated “happy” artist

  4. Davina permalink

    Another great reading James. You are an inspiration to so many of us. I am currently making a card holder which will be decorated and marked for use with these three card reading positions. I wanted something where I could display / show the cards used for a current reading, and leave it set up so I could remind myself of the cards as I continue to reflect on them. Will take a photo and show you over the next couple of days. It will be utilised at a forthcoming two day festival where I have a stall for readings here in Christchurch. This will be a great 3 card spread to use to conclude most readings, as well as being a valid one to use in its own right and entirity.


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