Interview with Alyssa Montalbano
by Bonnie Cehovet
I love coming across new (to me) talent. Artist Alyssa Montalbano (working under the pseudonym Ari Stone) crossed my path recently, with the outstanding work she did on her Tarot Journal project.
The Tarot Journal is 9” by 12”, spiral bound, hard cover book with two pages available for each reading: one page for the layout, and one page for notes. Little stickers are included in the back of the journal, with positions for the name of the card drawn, the position definition, and a small circle to be filled in at the bottom if the card is reversed. I just finished my first reading using my journal, and absolutely love how it looks!
Several things struck me when I went to Montalbano’s art site. One was that the pages covering the Tarot Journal were well organized, and very professionally presented – including detailed instructions on how to best use the journal.
If you look at her personal information page, you will note that her stated intention is to share love and gratitude through art and print. Each piece is infused with passion and care.
There are two very interesting art sections – one entitled Design, and one entitled Galactic C.H.I. Art.
Let’s hear what Alyssa has to say about her work, and her mission.
BC: Alyssa, your work is outstanding! How did you begin your journey into the world of Tarot? I note that you encourage using other types of cards along with Tarot cards in your journal. What other types of divination do you work with?
AM: My journey into Tarot, has been rather interesting and is a process currently deepening. I used to be a very “strong” Christian, and I was one of the last people I would have ever thought I would see using the Tarot cards! But, life shifts, and I gradually shifted with it and just started using Tarot cards and Oracles of various sorts. I don’t think I could really pin point a start date. I have been using various decks for about 2-3 years now and buy more all the time. I love drawing cards and asking questions. I am by no means a professional; I still even look in the books for interpretations! I am just now starting to really work on being able to “understand” and “interpret” each card as it relates in a spread. Once in a while I will do a reading for the occasional friend of mine, at this time I still use the book to help interpret. It hasn’t been until very recently that I have truly realized just how passionate I am about working with “the cards”.
I have always had a fascination with human behavior and emotions and I must admit, the cards really helped me to be able to start looking to myself for answers that I used to go to others to find. They have been a sort of self-therapy for me. It’s a little embarrassing to have to admit, but in my studies of emotions and emotional disorders, I had what has been labeled a Borderline personality disorder. The main gist of this is that the person with this disorder doesn’t know how to make decisions and are always looking for someone else to tell them what to do. Using the cards was a great way for me to “look up to myself” for help and to start working on making decisions for myself. I think that is why I am so passionate about the cards, because I know they can help reveal to people the things that are hidden and allow them the conscious ability to choose for themselves what they think is best according to them. The Tarot Journal is a special place to provide a visual connection to their inner beingness of light.
One of my favorite things about the vast array of Tarot decks is all of the artwork in each deck of cards. I tend to buy a lot of Tarot and Oracle card decks. The Tarot deck I connect with the most, so far, is the Osho Zen Tarot and I also really enjoy working with the Bright Ideas Deck. I also love using the I-Ching coins by Titania Hardie called “Good Fortune and How to Attract It.” I love oracles that “open” and expand a person and are based in love. I’ve also used the Angel Cards and Universal Cards and various other oracles of that nature. Mostly, I pull those for daily inspiration and encouragement in certain situations. Sometimes, I will do a Tarot reading and ask what angel is working with “that” aspect of the reading, or pull a Self-Care Card to compliment the reading or a Universal card. I just do what I feel led by my inner being to do, and I always have a ball doing it…ok…I use the cards when I am feeling sad too and need some kind of an answer, but I always love working with the cards as they reveal energy patterns to me.
The Tarot Journal is a beautiful tool, available for people to start to connect more fully with their inner soul essence via the use of Tarot and/or Oracle Cards. I like that each person gets to experience the process of self discovery in any fashion they choose. So it will be perfect for each person. No two journals will ever be alike.
BC: How did the project of creating this very elegant Tarot Journal come about?
AM: A man that I was dating in mid 2006, also the father of my daughter, had earlier on in his life created a Feng Shui Video, and I shared my idea of the Tarot Journal with him. He said he thought it was a great idea and told me how to go about getting it to the public, via distribution and the like. We wound up breaking up. But, I kept on with the Journal, as I have always loved print production and saw its potential. So, I found myself learning how to do things as I went along: From business licenses, to copyrights and isbns, to printers, to distribution, to marketing, to websites, to advertising, and to Amazon. I’ve loved every step of the process and I hope I get the opportunity to create more custom journals and print products in the future! I get so excited when I think about printing and creating book items!
BC: The scene on the front of your Tarot Journal reflects a genre of work that you created – that of Galactic C.H.I. (Celestial Healing Infusion) Art. Can you tell us a bit about this, and where your inspiration comes from? (I really love that “in person” this work glows in the dark!)
AM: This is another interesting thing in and of itself. Ever since I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper I always drew designs. I would just sit down and draw them. I have been told my work is reminiscent to Esher. At any rate, my designs wound up inspiring my daughter’s father to create outerspace images in the 3D program he is fluid with and teaches. From those images, I was inspired to try to paint outerspace images…I could not get them to look right for the life of me! So I decided, with my designs, they were missing the sensual nature of my being and that I was going to work on reproducing those with textures and earth elements. So I went and bought a bunch of sand and feathers and some iridescent powdered pigments and a variety of other things and I decided to overlay them onto canvas prints of my designs. For some reason, I then decided to experiment with creating outerspace images on the velvet, with the sand and feathers. The first few times around the bend they looked more abstract, but things developed incredibly rapidly, and before I knew it, each piece was looking more “realistic” than the next! I am hoping to get them into a gallery someday. I am waiting for the right one to come along. Perhaps, in Hawaii somewhere.
BC: You mentioned that the artwork for the Tarot Journal cover (which is from your series of Galactic C.H.I. pieces) was done as velvet mounted on a 1” thick pine table top, and includes burlap, crystals, gems, and sea shells. Can you tell us a bit about this process?
AM: Sure, the process looks kind of like a mess…at least the area around me looks that way! I have zip lock bags filled with various colors of sand, and bags of feathers, and paints littered everywhere. It’s kind of like being in the center of a lovely explosion of colors! I choose my canvas shape and size and then cut and mount the velvet to it. I have the outerspace image I have chosen to create, in front of me. Recently, I have taken to using a white charcoal pencil and giving myself the vaguest outline of the areas before I start gluing and cutting up feathers and sprinkling sand in various areas to add shadings and texture. Once I complete those phases, I begin in with the iridescent pigments and acrylics. Once I get the main outerspace image completed, I add a design (to the larger images); I just sit down and draw. I never have any idea what the design will look like, as I am drawing feelings and vibrations. Then, I add my trims of raw crystals and gems and earth items that compliment the piece’s energies- Like Bamboo, moss, hemp, burlap, glass, and on some pieces shells I hand collected from the beach in the Philippines. They have the most incredible shells there that I have ever seen! Then, either before or after the border trim, I apply the glow-paints and black light paints while in twilight / black-light. I hope to have on my website some of the black light images of my Galactic CHI art in the future. I have also created realism pieces that glow in the dark too. The Realism Glow Gallery is still in the process of being posted.
BC: You mentioned that you wanted two things for the Tarot Journal: a quality product, and a price that was affordable so that everyone could benefit from it. In the personal information section on your site, you note that your intention is to share love and gratitude, through art and print, with the world. This kind of worldview means a lot to me. How did this develop for you?
AM: I have always been a strong believer in the power of love to overcome and heal all. From my Christian upbringing, I always somehow managed to get the message of love, compassion and forgiveness; even amidst the fire and brimstone of the god that never forgives and sends you to hell for eternity for making supposed mistakes- but loves you unconditionally…lol... Since I left the church I have been learning to unconditionally love myself. I hope that others around me will feel inspired by my expression of love to have the courage to love themselves as well and to follow their hearts and passions. A lot of healing came to me through working on the Tarot Journal and with the cards, as well as reading a lot of amazing books by many incredible authors and believing in myself during a very difficult time in my life. My greatest hope is that the Tarot Journal will be able to help others as they embark on their journeys towards awakening their souls as well. The journey is not always easy, but it is most certainly worth it!
BC: Can you tell us a bit about the other art that you do?
AM: I do a lot of different styles of art. I love creating. As mentioned before, I do a lot of designs by just sitting down and putting my feelings and vibrations onto paper. I do a lot of spiral type reflective energies. I also do realism, though I much prefer my designs. The realism pieces also glow in the dark. I came upon all the glow-in-the-dark paints by coming across the Starscapes business. This is the one where you paint the stars on the ceiling in a bedroom with the water-based paint that glow for up to 10 hours, which is the primary glow paint I use on my paintings. I also have a desire to create consciousness altering spaces, utilizing my designs in tile and other expressions as well as crystals and gems, plants, water, and things to do with physics, within the construct and space of a “living” environment. In essence, I want to create the space mostly in another dimension, and I want to achieve the same things with my artwork: that when people look at the artwork, they will be awakened to deeper states of awareness and the truth of love that resonates in everyone’s inner being.
AM: Art has always been an active part of my life: from acting, to drawing, to illustrating and designing books, to working on computers, doing website designs, and even to working with hot and cold glass and neon. I’ve won awards for clay sculptures (super sculpy clay) and realism stipplings. I also write poetry and have been published with poetry.com under various names. The Galactic CHI Art “Be A Dreamer” artwork is one of the poems that I wrote. The outerspace image on it is one of my daughter’s father’s 3D art creations on which I utilized the sand and feathers, glow-paints, and etc. and etc. over the top of. Once I finish a piece, I then create the scroll that comes with it that tells a person which gems are on the piece and what vibrations they carry. I site my source of the Crystal Bible for this info.
BC: How do you meld crystals and stones into your art? What place do they hold in your work?
AM: I use a regular hot glue gun! I might want to look into some epoxy though and give that E6000 a whirl, to ensure greater longevity.
The crystals and gems hold an incredible place in my art. I love all of the “stones.” They are so incredible and their energies are amazing. I was always drawn to stone as a child. I recall a time when I was around 10 and I was at a baseball or soccer tryout and it had just rained and all the stones (gravel pebbles) on the playground looked amazing! They were hues of reds and blues and yellows and greens, so I picked out my favorites and took them home! The next morning I was all excited to go and look at them and I was like, “where did they go?”. What sat in front of me were stones that looked more like dirty whites and browns. I didn’t know they just needed to be wet again! I returned them back to the great outdoors. As I got older I was always drawn to the “rocks” (raw gems) in the discovery/science type stores and in the more recent years of my life…say, the last 5 or so, I have really been getting into them and their energies. I seem to have a knack at picking up just the right stone that is needed. I just feel which one I am drawn to and that is what I pick up. I have even picked the “needed” ones that others needed as well. It’s a pretty neat experience. The stones, I believe, are very aware and if we as people tune in (as the Crystal Bible people have done) and listen, they have much to share. One of the main things I love so much about them is the love vibrations that they all carry. There have been many times, and days, where I will carry a particular stone when I am feeling down, or need that additional energy boost, and they have been awesome!
On a little more “scientific explanation” of the stones (if there even is such a thing, because the more you get into science and physics the more you see everything is all made up! Nothing is real except that which you choose to believe), each one emits a uniform pattern unique to that stone (energy vibration) and according to piezometric energy; where pressure is applied, to these stone; they emit their uniform patterns into the field around them and transform the more non-uniform (or chaotic) energies into the more harmonious and uniform pattern of the crystal. So the crystals are actually working to transform the energies in the rooms or spaces that they are present in. So if you are drawn to a piece, those energies are speaking to you, and want to assist you in whatever place you are working on overcoming or bringing truth, love and healing to.
BC: What do you see as the connection between your art, and the people that purchase it? Where does your art fit into their lives?
AM: A less technical explanation of how I see my art fitting into the lives of those who are drawn to purchase it, is that the art carries a love energy into the spaces they go to; and again, my greatest hope is to achieve an artwork, that when looked upon, alters a person’s consciousness and awakens the being of light inside of them to the truth: that they are limitless beings, capable of doing or creating anything they want. It is to be an awakener. I believe this can be achieved by many means, even just a belief that it is so, and if someone wants to enjoy the beauty of the Galaxy, and with the assistance of my belief in what my art creations can do, then absolutely acquire one! I myself have purchased beautiful items (please visit the Matrix Energetics website) because I believe that the assistance of another person’s belief and intention of a gateway into other dimensions assist me in achieving my dream. I wear; every day; both my Bio-Electric Shield and a bracelet hand crafted by a Shaman in Peru and “activated” by Richard Bartlett (Matrix Energetics). This contains a special symbol to link to the Zero Point field, where all possibilities are possible at all times. I believe my art is able to do this same kind of activation of awareness, as well as being a wonderful thing of beauty to bring into the sacred space of one’s home, in love, honor and respect. I also infuse love into each piece via the two point system that Richard Bartlett teaches, as well as sending love and forgiveness to the Divine and setting the pieces back to the zero point field using the “Zero Limits” system as written by Joe Vitale. I also, recommend and apply to my personal life the discoveries of Robert Schienfeld in “Busting Loose From the Money Game”. All are books that take you to the “Zero state” of who we truly are.. infinite abundance and love.
BC: What projects do you have coming up that we should watch for?
AM: “Daily Spread Tarot and Oracle Journal” is due out this year around July (2008). The concept of “Daily Spread” has been fermenting in my consciousness (another inspiration from the divine / zero point field) for many months and I have felt since the middle of last year that it would be released around June or July of this year. It is nearing its final computer creation phases and will be sent off to the printers in the next month- or close to that. It will be 6”x 9” ; the more traditional size for a journal, and will have slightly over 3 months worth of spread spaces for those “daily spreads” or smaller 3-5 card readings. There will be enough stickers to do a 5-stickers-per-day daily spread, with a few extras. This journal will be even more intricately designed and the cover design is something very special indeed. The interior, most likely, will also have a single color inside. Daily Spread” will retail at $19.95.
I would like to thank Alyssa for taking the
time to discuss her work with us. You can purchase the Tarot Journal from Amazon.com.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.