Blowing Rock Bottles


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Every year, the hubs and I and some friends meet up in Blowing Rock, NC and rent a cabin. There’s a seriously cute little main street with boutiques and restaurants and such where we spend the afternoon strolling and shopping. One of the stores is painted with soft lavenders and creams and greys, and I used it as inspiration for the colors in my tattoo studio room. Outside of the store is a tiny little garden, and at one point, they had bottles and bits of chandelier glass hanging over it, and I fell in love with the scene it created. So I photographed it and now, several years later, finally sat down and finished painting it.

I have to admit that, even though I’m having fun learning tattooing, it’s not as satisfying a medium for me as painting. It’s hard to predict exactly how each piece of skin will react to different techniques, and you have to get it right the first time. There’s no changing your mind halfway through and starting over with a better idea. It’s harder to “tweak” to get it perfect. And the feel of the tattoo machine isn’t even close to the feel of a paintbrush and paint. Too much rattle to be soothing to me. So on my one day off a week, I’m trying hard to get into the painting studio and enjoy a little gushy fun.

Anyway, here is the painting:

Blowing Rock Bottles_compressed.JPG

Blowing Rock Bottles 12″ x 12″ oil on board $400

The original is for sale here. For now, you can find prints and cuff links and keepsake boxes and other fun thingsies here, here, and here.


Dilly Dilly


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Well, my migraine finally broke after several days (during which I still managed to do several tattoos, because I am a superhero…or at least, because I wore superhero underpants. That’s the same thing, right?), and I got in a lot of painting yesterday. I finally finished two pieces I’ve been working on forever. Here’s the first, which is a little still life I have sitting in my tattoo studio room. I posted it on Facebook and asked for suggestions for naming it. Someone suggested “Lavender Blue,” which put that damn song (for a truly obnoxious rebooted version of the song, click here) in my head for the last 24+ hours, so I’ve decided to be evil and put an ear worm out there for everyone who reads the painting title. Mwuahahahaaaaa! I give you, “Dilly Dilly.”

Dilly Dilly_compressed

Dilly Dilly 9″ x 12″ oil on board $300

The original is available here. You can find prints and mugs and greeting cards and a million other fun stuffsies here and here and here.

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up 4


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Had some fun tattoos this week. Got to do my first chest piece. The customer already had the wolf and moon, as well as the roman numerals, but he wanted to fill in the rest. So I added trees and clouds that blended into the clouds on his arm. I also added shading on the lower part of his pecs to give the illusion that he has a bigger and more chiseled chest. His comment: “I look like I’ve been going to the gym!”

Isaac - chest piece

Another new customer has very little open skin left to tattoo, but has “the itch” again, so we found a spot for this little gem. Get it? Little gem?

crystals - Amanda Bretz

The next one tugged on my heart strings and made me feel the feels. Of course.

daddy's little girl - Brittney Thompson

And my favorite of the week was a walk-in who wanted a bear, an octopus, or something Star Wars-y. So I showed him some of my watercolors and he opted to go with the octopus and add a watercolor background. I have to admit, I’m proud of this one. I really love doing this style, so I hope I get more requests for stuff like this.

Octopus - Matt Onley


Lions, and Elephants, and Dancers, Oh My!


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I’ve been playing around with ideas for watercolor style tattoos for a couple weeks on my downtime at the studio. Since some of them are really fun, I figured I’d go ahead and share them here. If anyone wants me to tattoo one of them on you, holla. The first two are different concepts for the same dancer. The lion and elephant aren’t related, but I’ve seen a lot of people getting generic tattoos of lions and elephants, so I wanted to play with making them really unique.

Dancer black and white tattoo idea_compresseddancer-color-watercolor_compressed.jpgelephant-in-headdress_compressed.jpgRoaring Lion_compressed

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up 3


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I had several memorial tattoos this week, which was pretty cool. It’s a really special thing to be part of helping people heal by documenting a loved one’s special role in their life. I commemorated everything from grandparents, to parents, to pets this week, including one guy who wanted his dog’s tooth mark (from when it bit him) tattooed on to look like a mole. I also got to help people document the latest phase of their lives and remind themselves of who they want to be going forward. And in between, I got to watch several pairs of sisters come in, and it was a blast watching them crack each other up and support each other through the pain of getting a tattoo. Aside from a couple people who I realized part way through tattooing were actually drunk and/or highly unstable, all in all, it was a good week. So with all of that in mind, here’s this week’s tattoo wrap-up:

butterfly on finger

crowns - Katie and Buckly

St Brigid cross - Mary Lumpkinmandala anklet - Mayawisdome circle - Nicole Finley b&w

be brave arrow - Kelli WilsonBonnie's turtles_compressedKim Bella ankle compilationliz-wilsons-sweet-pea.jpg

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up 2


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As promised, here’s my last week in tattoos. I’ve stopped snapping pics of every single tattoo. I mean, I ran a special in preparation for OutRaleigh’s festival this weekend and did a whole bunch of rainbow hearts, equality symbols, and an asexual flag, and they were all that unique or interesting, so I didn’t bother getting pictures of them. But I did want to tell you about them because it was a wonderful Saturday full of love and I’m totally going to do it again next year as a fundraiser for Raleigh’s LGBTQ center. I also didn’t snap pics of the several tiny little stars or treble clefs or triangles, etc, nor did I opt to photograph the pentagram and goat head I did yesterday (but I’ll be sure to post a pic of the cover-up of that one when he grows up and realizes his mistake and comes back in 5 years, lol).

So here are the ones I deemed worthy of a photo:

Ginko - Rachel Faison_compressed

For an environmental scientist

juggling - Kathy Carson_compressed

For a professional clown

owl - Katie Samuel_compressed

In honor of a grandparent

star trek - Gigi_compressed

Added the words to the existing star from the Star Trek badges.

And finally, the piece de resistance: a customer requested a full-figured pinup in Day of the Dead makeup with a line body that would “make [his] mother uncomfortable.” So I gave him this:

I Got a Job


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I got a job. Yup. I did. A part-time job, but a job nonetheless, so I may have a little less blogging time for the forseeable future. I’m working as an office manager and business development specialist for an internal medicine physician who practices pulse diagnosis neurological acupunture and herbal medicine. How was that for a lot of fancy words in one sentence? Really, I’m a glorified receptionist who tosses out innovative ideas like, “Hey, we should make some videos for social media!”

As part of my compensation, I get weekly acupuncture and herbs, which is cool, but very weird since it involved disclosing my medical history to my boss on the very first day. “Hi, I’m a hot mess who shouldn’t even be able to get out of bed most days. Surprise! Aren’t you glad you hired me?!”

You all know how much I didn’t want to get a job and lose time in the art studio and tattoo studio, so I was hoping my job search might take awhile, but nope. I got the first job I applied for. Stupid competence ruins everything. Luckily, the hours aren’t bad and actually break my day up a bit, so I spend less time crankily sitting around waiting for walk-ins at the tattoo shop. And it seems that I’m getting more tattoo work now that I have less time to be tattooing, which I guess is a good thing. But I only get 1 day off a week now, which is a less than good thing. And my new bosses asked me if I could work on that one day this weekend, so now I have to practice setting my boundaries and actually say “no.” Laziness Work-life balance and all. I like the physician and his fiancee, though, and so far they like me, and I think working there could actually end up being fairly rewarding. You know, helping all the peoples feel all the good feelies.

I’ve been taking fewer pictures of the tattoos I do because I guess I’m not feeling the need to document each and every one anymore. I’ve finally lost count of how many I’ve done. Does that make me a veteran tattoo artist? Not sure 6 weeks of tattooing qualifies me as one, but I’m going to pretend it’s true. That being said, I’ll still take pics of the more interesting ones and at least do weekly tattoo wrap-ups for those of you who don’t already follow me on the InstaBooks and the Facegrams.

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up


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I did a few tattoos this last week or so that I’m pretty happy with. I might have even danced a jig after the giraffe one. But there’s no video evidence, so I get to pretend I’m not that big of a dork. Thought you’d enjoy seeing some of my favorites:


origami elephant

Taylor's giraffe and sunflowers bwTaylor's giraffe and sunflowers color 2

It’s official. I LOOOOOOOVE tattooing realistic animals and tattooing other stuff in the style that looks like a sketch. Love love love it. Love. It.

Mandala Tattoos


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Right now, I still have a lot of down time at the tattoo studio as I wait for word of mouth to do its thing and bring me more customers. I’m putting that time to use playing with ideas for tattoos. I’m ever so slightly obsessed with mandalas at the moment, so I thought I’d share some that I’ve been doodling and noodling around with. If anyone is interested in getting one of these tattooed on them, let me know! I started with just a couple simple mandalas joined together with some paisley:


This one has already been claimed, but I can create something similar.

mandala ohm

I followed that up with a mandala peacock:


And then I got totally carried away and created several mandala and elephant drawings, which one of my genius friends dubber Mandalephants:




And then I made a copy of the last one and colored it in just for funsies:


I’m actually kind of wishing I’d left out the pink and purple, but whatevs.

If you have an idea for a new subject, like, say a lotus flower, or a cat, or a buddha, etc, feel free to suggest it!

Acrylic Painting Tutorial for Solace


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Here’s a tutorial for how to teach (or just paint) one of Artistic Abandon’s most popular paintings, Solace. Enjoy!