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Nini Berishvili
High Priestess

12″ x 8″


Yves-Olivier Mandereau
Ceramic Artist

Artist Statement
“I tried to draw the second tarot card, High priestess, which means knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I wanted it to be very different from other illustrations of this card and draw it in my own way. That’s why I decided to draw it only in graphite pencil and make it as realistic as I could.”

Video Transcript

“Looking at your tarot card, I really like the magical feel that you have going on. I think that a lot of that is with the gesture of the figure and the hand, and the way that you’ve played with the hair; so lifelike and there’s a lot of movement there that I really appreciate.

One thing that I would ask you to consider is composition. At the moment the center of the card is the figure’s eyes, which are important, but I feel like we’re missing a little bit of something with her holding the apple.

Another thing, that I would suggest is to play with darkest darks. Right now in the shoulder of the figure you have almost a full black, but overall it’s just kind of a light grey in the whole piece. And I think that, if you were to play around with getting some really really dark darks, and play around with really light lights and, play around with the contrast between the two, you could have some fun. Great piece overall!”

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5 responses on "Nini Berishvili"

  1. What really impresses me here is your excellent facility with graphite – and in particular your versatility. I love that the figure is somewhat stylized, proportionally, yet rendered with a delicate naturalism… The balance you strike between this kind of realism and a more graphic quality (not to mention the lovely pattern in the background) shows that you have impeccable technique but also enough restraint to not overwhelm us with detail. I particularly love the subtle variation of darks in the segments of the character’s chest, as it moves outside the circle.

    For me, the tree branches are the weakest element of the composition right now… They don’t have nearly the same degree of nuance, and so even though they aren’t the darkest dark in the piece they overwhelm the finer details in the drawing because they create such a solid shape of very consistent value.

    I find the narrative element of this illustration extremely compelling, so I really hope you make more Tarot cards in the future!

  2. So just because of your piece, I just spent like an hour doing online tarot card readings. You got me intrigued!

    For me, the crux of your whole image is the apple. Between that and the halo, I think of the Biblical fruit in the Garden of Eden which supposedly represents knowledge. But your woman holding the apple also reminds me of Athena, a guardian of knowledge. Divination itself seems to straddle holiness and the occult, and I wonder how all of these things factor into your drawing.

    Tarot cards seem to be a lot about interpreting symbols and metaphors, so I think your drawing could benefit from research into different cultural and religious traditions and archetypes.

  3. I really love this piece, especially because of the sense of narrative you have (and I’m definitely a sucker for story in art!) The design is a little simple, but I think that works with the almost iconographic style of the image. Really works well for the Tarot concept you’re working with! (Also PLEASE make more of the cards! It’s an undertaking but I know a few artist who are working on Tarot series and it’s always a cool project to see develop!) The figure comes off as more stylized than realistic, and despite your goal being realism I think the exaggerated style works well for this. Maybe explore what that means and looks like to you! Look at what your natural style pushes you towards and follow it, without trying to force it into realism. Look up Olga and Andrej Dugin (an awesome illustrator couple!) and their book “The Adventures of Abdi” written by Madonna. Pay attention to how they capture realism and their own personal style as well!

  4. Your pencil technique is so lovely and delicate, I especially like the way the darkness of the shirt slowly dissolves into very thin vertical lines. The contrast of that softness against the almost prickly quality of the hands is an excellent contrast. I would love to see you do more visual research for the pattern and branches behind the figure, if you can get really specific about the kind of tree I think that would greatly enhance the piece. Nice work!

  5. This piece is so intriguing! The way that the figure is gazing at me, and how the apple almost seems like an offering or lure, is all very captivating! I’d love to see you play around with composition more, and engage with the bottom half of the image a bit more. Great job, this is a really stunning and beautifully rendered piece!

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