78 Tarot Project – 10 Of Coins Step by Step Painting

78 Tarot is a group of 78 artists completing a tarot deck. Each artist will do one card in their own style. You can follow our progress at the 78 Tarot website or facebook page.

Rider-Waite-Smith 10 of Coins

Rider-Waite-Smith 10 of Coins

10 of Coins

10 of Coins is about family, inheritance, tradition, material abundance, a lasting foundation, security and comfort.

When I was asked to join the project there were not many card choices left. I thought I would do one of the Coin or Pentacle cards since the Earth-based suit interested me. I quickly glanced at my book and chose between 9 and 10. Once I started researching the card and meaning I found it was not very appealing to me as it was usually depicted in the Rider-Waite Tarot, and had second thoughts about choosing that card. I disliked the jumbled mix of narrative and scene and coins strewn over the picture. The scene was hard to read and crowded.

Thumbnail Sketches

I knew I wanted to simplify it by including fewer figures and making the coin symbols part of the scene itself. My first idea was to show a parent and child instead of a large family. The coin was to be a repeating symbol or coat of arms that could be used in the background to tie into the inherited wealth and tradition idea. The mother is passing a necklace to her daughter that she received from her mother.

In the second sketch I added a statue behind the mother and daughter meant to represent an ancestor. In this way I could show the coin symbol being passed between generations. I wasn’t sure about the background yet. Perhaps it would be an leafy arch with coins designs in it.


Further refining the thumbnails

My third thumbnail sketch became the basis for the final drawing. I brought the figures inside a solid stone arch and moved the statue to into the arch. A dog next to the mother represents fidelity.

Next I made sketches of the mother and daughter concentrating on their costumes. I chose to dress them in Italian Renaissance style dresses, which definitely bring to mind wealth and abundance.

Color Sketch

A quick digital color sketch of both compositions helped me to decide on which I wanted to continue with, and what the eventual color scheme would be.


Once I decided on the second composition, I worked on refining the pose of the two figures.

Laying out the background arch I decided to give it an organic Art Nouveau look to tie both nature and history together into a solid stone carving. A statue based on medieval cathedral door jamb figures will be on other side of the archway. These figures are dressed in costumes from centuries earlier.




Color Sketch

Once I have the basic layout of the entire picture drawn I did a second color sketch. I wanted to base the top section of the art on Art and Crafts period stained glass designs with muted green and gold. For the coins, instead of literal Pentacles I drew them as ivy leaves. The ivy motif will be repeated all over the painting. At this point while I’m figuring out the coloring of the background I get a better idea of how to will draw the floor and the stone wall, as well as a walled city the distance.

Final Drawing

To make the final pencil drawing I used my light box to draw over sketches of the various elements on separate sheets in order to adjust the placement. In the final pencil drawing I made the right statue a man facing forward to break up the symmetry and drew the stones in the floor in a leaf or petal shape.

10ofcupsdrawing_meredithdillman (1).jpg

On to painting…

Next I ink outlines on some of the main figures and archway and begin painting. After many days working…

almost done!