Autumn Leaves, Seasonal Depression, and the Ebbs and Flows of Creativity | Blog 10/14/22

Featured image: Some of my favorite witchy stuff, plus the clicky keyboard I’ve been really enjoying for writing my novel.

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”

– Shira Tamir

Content warning: This blog entry contains some discussion of mental health issues. Please read at your discretion and only when it feels safe to do so.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year in terms of weather and energy. October is when I feel magic more palpably than in any other month of the year. It’s not just the witchy decorations and movies playing constantly, nor the approach of Halloween/Samhain/the Equinox. For me, October is magic through and through, not just on the 31st.

However, for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere and also living with seasonal affective disorder or other seasonal sensitivity, the magic and beauty of this season can also be tinged with either the onset of symptoms or the apprehension thereof. My seasonal depression usually fades in around or after Christmas, or in mid-December at the earliest, but this year it hit me like a brick wall around October 5th. 

The two comics I completed this summer.

I’ve had an incredibly productive summer. I finished two comics – a graphic novella, Corvidae, and a ten-page mini comic, The Feline Guide To Grief. Corvidae just went off to the printer for a test print, and I’ll share about that when it comes in. I illustrated more than half of the cards for my upcoming Path of the Magdalene oracle deck. I knocked out the first 10,000 words of a novel (yes, really). And I was poised to start really focusing on the game project my partner and I have been toying with all year and really want to bring into existence.

And then, suddenly, I was in the depths of depression and creativity felt more like a remembered dream than something I could feel every day. 

At this point, having started Q4 strong and then almost immediately hit this wall of depression and non-productivity, I am torn. On the one hand, I believe strongly in being patient with oneself creatively, not pushing to the point of burnout, and surfing the ebbs and flows of creative energy in our lives rather than holding ourselves to an inhuman standard of “same level of work all the time.” On the other hand, however, I have worked hard to establish good habits around my creativity, and I do believe in “showing up at the page” no matter what. Even if nothing happens there, I try to get into my studio space every day, to maintain the habit and mindset of “I am an artist. I make stuff. This is who I am.”

It’s hard to know how to proceed when all of you – your Muse, your schedule, your space, and your conscious self – stands ready to create, and then depression or anxiety or other illness hits hard. Different solutions are going to be right for different people at different times. I do believe that sometimes “just show up for your art anyway” is the answer. But I also believe that, other times, “take a break, drop the paintbrush, and get some damn rest” is the answer.

Ebb and flow in creativity is not something I like to embrace, but I think I need to right now.

For me, right now? I don’t know. I am following my Muse wherever she shows up, doing whatever project feels doable in a given moment. Right now, at least this week, the creativity is (or feels) infrequent and inconsistent. I don’t enjoy that; my creative personality is that of the “scheduled artist” – I’m someone who can put art on a schedule, and get it done, and enjoy it. I actually thrive creatively more when I have a relatively firm schedule. But I think this season of my life, or at least this month, is one where I need to embrace the ebb of my creativity until it returns to a flow state.

Maybe I’m being challenged this way for a reason. Maybe it serves some larger purpose for me as a creative being. Or maybe seasonal affective disorder just seriously sucks. Maybe some of both.

Even from the “back-end” side of my site, the range of posts this year is pretty minimal.

I had intended, at the beginning of Q4 (October/November/December), to post a blog here every sinlge Monday. Clearly, it is not Monday when this is going up. And maybe this, too, is happening for a reason – maybe I’m meant to learn to be a bit more free-flowing with my blogging, too. It’s hard to not feel discouraged when my schedule gets thrown off right away. But I will keep at it. Because that’s what we do as creatives. Whether you are a “schedule-friendly artist” who shows up at a set time, a free-wheeling artist who just works when the Muse calls, or something in between – as long as you are going with your style, doing what works for you and your creativity – you are “doing it right.” 

I guess I just need to trust that I am, too.

Wishing you all a wonderful week, or few days, or month – however long it takes until I have energy to blog again. And until next time: Be safe. Be well, whatever that looks like for you. And, if it’s healthy for you to do so…go make something today.

xo Taylor

Taylor Johnson is a multi-discipline artist and author from the Northern Virginia area in the US. She is the creator of two independently published divination decks – the Millennial Mystic Tarot and the Hekate Oracle – and a mini-comic, The Feline Guide to Grief. Currently she is working on the upcoming Path of the Magdalene Oracle (July 2023); the graphic novel Corvidae (2023, exact date TBD); and a contemporary novel (totally TBD).

All photos and content (c) Taylor Johnson.

Yes, I’m still here! | Path of the Magdalene deck updates, Corvidae, life after social media, and where I am now | June 2022

Hello out there!

Hi. Taylor here. If you’re reading this, it is likely that either you stumbled on this page while looking for Aaron Taylor-Johnson art (similar search term but you have NOT lucked out here if that’s what you’re after) or, slightly more likely, you are one of the 120 people who are currently signed up to receive notifications when I post. Which I haven’t for…years.

(Disclaimer: this is not an Aaron Taylor-Johnson site. I just joke about the name because searching for me online will forever find that actor instead. I’m still considering a pen name just to distinguish myself from my famous namesake.)

Anyway. This is, online home of artist Taylor Johnson. No hyphen, and not nearly as famous – but, hopefully, still of some interest to you, reader. I’m an artist from the US and I work in digital illustration, watercolors, and 3D modeling. Sometimes I mash them up in to multi-discipline art projects. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s always interesting.

Site Updates

Recently I logged into my old Etsy shop where I used to sell my card decks. (That shop has since been deleted – I’m not even gonna get into my ongoing Etsy rant right now.) And, to my surprise, there was a very kind message from a fan asking about my decks. It went like this:

Thank you for all the exclamation points. Seriously. It makes me happy to see people excited about my work!

(For reference, the MPC place this customer was referring to is my seller space on MakePlayingCards’ marketplace. You can buy my card decks there!)

And I have to admit, truthfully, as dramatic as this sounds…I didn’t think anyone really cared anymore. I have a few contacts who are interested in my work, sure; and my close friends and family are incredibly supportive. But I never thought there were actual people out there who actually would want to get updates about my decks and other projects. This feeling was, I guess, intensified by the fact that I recently left social media entirely and lost what little sense of audience I may have had.

Since then I’ve had some time to think it over, and I’m seriously considering coming back here, to this website, to blog about my work. I don’t expect it to be wildly successful; I am fully aware that blogging as we used to know it is dead, and pretty much all artists these days get 90% of their publicity through TikTok or Instagram Reels. But part of what drove me away from IG and other social media was that pressure to imitate TikTok and make EVERYTHING a short video. I’m just not a short video person. I never had TikTok, and I rarely watched IG reels when I was still on there. Maybe it’s my age, but I like static posts a lot more – especially when it comes to art. I like to have the time to sit and study an image and really absorb what the artist has created. I like to read written descriptions and see what their process was like. I just feel like it’s a better way (for me) to take in artistic content.

No disrespect to short-video makers; clearly they are on to something with most of today’s social media audience. It’s just not the format for me.

All that said, I am coming back to this blog to (hopefully) maintain some kind of online presence for those people who are interested in my work. Maybe I’ll be back to social media in some small way someday, but for right now, I am definitely not interested in being on there at all. For now, I can say this with some certainty: The best way to get updates on me and my work is to follow this blog (or at least bookmark it so you can find it again later!).

And with that, here is what I’ve been working on.

The Path of the Magdalene Oracle

So, I am not a Christian in any kind of traditional sense. I am certainly not Catholic. But I have, for as long as I can remember, been fascinated by the archetype and mythos of Mary Magdalene. I took a workshop/mini course by Vix over at New Age Hipster quite some time ago, about the Magdalene; Vix approached the Magdalene concept from a really interesting alternative spiritual lens, and the kit was a deeply healing process. It honestly changed my life, and I still return to that kit for inspiration and healing.

Shortly thereafter, I felt moved to create a deck themed around Mary Magdalene. The creation of this deck has flowed so easily that it still kind of blows me away. I’m thrilled by how it’s turning out so far and I can’t wait to share more.

This deck, however, is also something I am very nervous about sharing. I fear that my more alternative fans may be offended by the references to Christian mythos, and my Christian fans may be offended by my use of the Magdalene in something as alternative as an oracle card deck. But I honestly, truly believe that no one religion “owns” the Magdalene energy or myth. That energy – be it a saint, Goddess, archetype, historical figure, whatever – is beyond any such worldly restraints.

I believe that the Magdalene concept, just like the God concept, is not just “big enough for everyone,” but too big to be limited to one belief system.

There is room here for all. That’s the spirit behind all my decks: I want everyone to be able to find themselves, in some way, shape, or form, in the images and ideas therein. I do believe diverse representation and affirmation of the incredible variance amongst humans is not just important, not just admirable; it is my duty as an artist. (It is a duty we all are bound to, really – but that’s an argument for another day.)

In the end, I’m responsible for making sure that as many people as possible can use and enjoy my decks. That means a lot of reflection, a lot of consideration, and a lot of critical thinking about what I include and how I portray it.

Making a deck that a lot of people can use and enjoy is a trial in itself. Making a Mary Magdalene deck that is welcoming and open to all, is perhaps almost a foolish endeavor.

But the Magdalene energy called me to do it. So I’m doing it.

At any rate, the deck is called the Path of the Magdalene Oracle, and it is roughly, roughly scheduled to be out July 22, 2023 – Mary Magdalene’s feast day next year. It will likely be available on my storefront on my printer’s page, because I just do not have the time or resources these days to package and process orders myself. Plus, since MPC ships worldwide, you will actually save money and get your deck faster if you order directly through them. The guidebook will be available free as a PDF here on this site.

The Feline Guide to Grief

Pages from “The Feline Guide to Grief.”

I drew this short comic as part of my grieving process when our beloved family cat passed away in May. This comic is just 10 pages but is probably one of my better comic works. It is certainly my most circulated, having gone out to many friends, family members, and – possibly – soon some vet clinics or counselors’ offices.

“The Feline Guide to Grief” is short, sweet, and focuses on the idea of death as a natural part of life, gently proposing the idea that death is not painful or terrifying to pets – that it’s us humans, with our habit of overcomplicating everything, that have projected fear and pain onto death. This comic seeks to both validate the pain of grieving, and offer a different way to view the death of a pet.

This comic is 10 pages, printed here at home and staple bound, and is available for $5 per copy. Head over to the order page to place an order.


Pages from the ink draft of Corvidae.

Corvidae was originally a sort of quirky gothic revenge tale and wound up being a treatise on the prevalence of harassment on public transportation. It’s still weird and still a gothic revenge tale, but it’s one of those projects that seemed to have a mind and mission of its own: I thought I was going to make a relatively simple, relatively short comic about a girl who befriends a flock of crows, who then defend her when she’s in danger. Corvidae had other ideas. After three pencil drafts, I wound up with a 71-page comic – a weird length to begin with, much longer than a standard single-issue comic, but very short for a graphic novel – that explored a lot more issues than I had originally planned.

My original intent was to explore crows and show how intelligent they are, and how interesting their interactions with humans are. I did get to explore that. But the story had its own intent, and that was both more serious and more important than anything I had imagined for it. It wound up more of a fictional exposé of the prevalence of sexual harassment on public transportation. I wound up doing more research than expected, too, and found a really good article on a 2020 study of exactly that issue, by Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal et al. Give it a read – it informed my work on this comic but is important reading for anyone, period.

I’ve finished the ink for Corvidae and it’s now ready for shading, so it’s getting there – but the shading is going to take time, so I don’t expect to have this one done in anything less than a couple months. However, I am VERY excited to get it finished and out there, so stay tuned for updates!

If you’d like to follow along with my journey creating the Path of the Magdalene Oracle, Corvidae, or any of my other projects, just sign up for notifications – the link should be on the right side of this or any other page on this site. I am not likely to be posting super frequently, since I’m working full time now and don’t have a ton of time to blog, so you aren’t signing up for daily (or even weekly) emails here. Just periodic updates on what I’m making.

Wishing you all the very best,