Watercolor Tattoos


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I am LOVING these splotchy watercolor tattoos, y’all. They’re just so cheerful! And I can see my own progress from the first couple I did to the one I did today. In the interest of the tattoos holding up over time, I’ve made sure to include strong black  images that won’t fade as much as the colors. These days, though, tattoo inks have gotten pretty good and they’re lasting a lot longer, so it may not be as much of a concern as it used to be.

Here are the first couple that I did:

no day but todayconstellation watercolor

But I wanted to play with this style some more, so I decided to actually do some watercolor paintings. There’s a fabulous photographer whose work I love named Terry Davis (seriously, go check out her work), and she posted a photo of a daisy, and I loved the shape:

terry davis sunflower

I mean, isn’t this stunning?! You can get prints of it on Fine Art America.

So I used her photograph as inspiration for a watercolor daisy:



I have been forbidden by my tattoo mentor and by my husband from giving away any more tattoos, so I decided to auction this one off. I posted it on my Facebook page and let my friends bid on getting this tattooed on them. The friend that won requested some color changes and asked that we make the colors more splashy and less drippy. So I did a little tweaking and here’s what she got:

Bonnie's daisy

It’s such a happy tattoo! If anyone is interested in doing the original watercolor I’d auctioned off, let me know! It’s about a 2-hour tattoo.

And just for funsies, I took a picture of the tattoo before I added color, and I love it, too, as a stand-alone tattoo, so thought I’d share it with you.



In Defense of Facebook


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Okay, hold your fire. I just wanted to put in a good word for Facebook for a second. You’re free to go on hating it, but listen for just a second. I love Facebook, and here’s why:

First, I would never have gotten through everything I went through with my dad were it not for Facebook. I got SO damn much support on there from people who would never have known what I was going through because they live far away and I hate talking on the phone to anyone other than my mom. I’m honest about what I’m going through (within reason…I don’t, like, post about every fight I have with my husband or coworkers, etc) in my life, and people respond. They give me words of encouragement, or they say, “Yes, I’m going through the same thing. Thank you for saying what I’m thinking.” And my community is so much larger because of Facebook. My parents’ friends could stay up to date on what was happening with my dad by just watching MY page for updates. And while some people just lurk and “like” posts, other people comment with kindness and love. When he died, I didn’t have to email or call everyone who needed to know, because they saw it on Facebook and responded. That took a big burden off of our shoulders.

When I’m depressed, Facebook becomes a lifeline to the outside world that I’m physically avoiding. People I was never close to have become dear friends thanks to private messaging on Facebook. Some people are better at being honest and open in writing than in person. Sometimes I’m one of those people, so I get it. Facebook helped us find each other, identify a kindred spirit, and open up privately.

I’m in a couple of support groups for chronic illness, and I never would have found these women without Facebook. I have a worldwide community because of social media. Ditto for blogging groups, and art groups, and various other interests. They’ve helped me grow as an artist, a blogger, and a person.

Are there negative people on there? Of course. It’s the internet. Shitheads love being shitheads wherever they can. But I’ve only had to unfriend one person ever, and it was for way more than just what was going on on Facebook. I’ve read blogs saying that Facebook makes people feel bad when they see other people posting about what fabulous lives they have. My friends don’t do that. I mean, they do post when exciting things happen, but they also post when tragedy strikes, or when they have a huge pimple, or when they’re bored or hungry or experiencing any of the wide array of emotions and experiences a human can go through. So I do, too, and then we can all rejoice with each other and take care of each other when needed.

I have friends with a variety of political and religious leanings. It’s good for me to see their posts and have to examine my own beliefs. It’s good for me to be reminded that there are people that I love because they are good, smart people, who believe some stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with. Not everyone who has a different political affiliation is a bad person, and my friends are proof. We come from different places and life stories and cultures, and Facebook reminds me that a) they are different from me and b) they are like me.

As an artist and a small business owner, Facebook has been an unbelievable asset. Unlike taking out an ad in the paper or on TV, which will cost thousands of dollars and rarely get actually viewed and even more rarely viewed by the specific people who would be interested in what I’m offering, with Facebook, I can target exactly who I want to reach and it costs a fraction of what I’d pay for print, TV, or radio advertising. Since I’m a VERY small business owner, I don’t have a big advertising budget, and I’d be screwed if I didn’t have this resource. And being able to post my art somewhere a bunch of my friends congregate has resulted in several sales without me having to do any paid advertising at all. I can avoid groveling to art galleries and watching them take half of the sale price and essentially negate any profit for me.

As a consumer, I like that Facebook isn’t showing me ads for a bunch of shit that I have zero interest in. Why would I want to see ads for guns and toupees when I’m not interested in either? How do they know what ads to show me? Duh, they keep tabs on what I post and react to. This does not surprise or offend me.

Does it suck that the Facebook platform has been used for underhanded political purposes? Fuck, yes. Do I 100% blame Facebook? No. Yes, they do have some culpability, but I don’t blame them for trying to figure out who we are so that companies can market more effectively to us. Hell, it’s a free service for us, so if I have to see a few ads for things I might like, I’m cool with that. And I take responsibility for double checking the factuality of stuff I see posted by my friends. If someone posts that 99.3% of Americans like bologna, I’ll fact check it before reposting it. That’s my responsibility, not Facebook’s.

So, you can delete your account if you’re mad at Facebook. That’s cool. If you’re concerned about your privacy, alright. I don’t judge you for that. But I’ll miss you, because realistically, I’m not likely to call.

Three Little Birds…I Mean, Kids


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I got to do a tattoo for my neighbor and friend that represented her kids and their birthdays. Such a simple concept, but I’m in love with the final result, especially the birds. She gave me an idea of what she liked, then let me design and play:

Liz Wilson's roman numerals with birds b&w.jpg

Can’t wait to see this at our community pool this summer (with lots of sunscreen on it, of course)!

Half Sleeve


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I got to do my first half sleeve!!! And my first tattoo in the traditional style!!! It was so exciting. It took about 4 1/2 hours, and I was lucky because the friend that was getting it sat beautifully still for me, even though I know he was hurting. Weirdly, those little dots are way more painful than you’d think they are. Each image he chose had meaning for him, from representing his family to the places he loves. There are a few lines I’d like to clean up once it has healed (it was my first time using a certain needle, and I didn’t realize just how slowly you need to move with it to keep the lines solid), but overall I think good with it.

so many kinds of yes


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I have a rule for myself: if I get an idea for a tattoo I want, I have to wait a year before I can get it. If I still want it a year later, then it’s not likely that I’ll regret the tattoo later in life. Well, it’s been more than a year since I got the idea for this tattoo, and 6 years since my last tattoo, so I decided it was time. Plus, I’ve never been tattooed by my tattoo mentor Julio, and I own a freakin’ tattoo shop. Julio had a little free time today, so I chained him to his tattoo chair and put him to work, even though today is his birthday (everyone say “Happy Birthday, Julio!!!!”).

My dad kept a magazine picture, of a little girl from a third world country carrying a jug of water on her head, in his music room to remind him that it could always be worse and that he really had it very good. It was one of the ways he dealt with his own depression. It helped him keep his life in perspective. To me, the picture just depressed me more, because not only did her situation not actually make my brain any more functional, but it frustrated me both that the world would allow her to have to live like that and that I couldn’t do anything about it. Reminding myself that I have an easy life just made me angrier that I still wasn’t able to be happy.

So instead, I’m choosing to just keep reminding myself to look for the good that’s all around me. Thank you Mr. Rogers. I have a stanza from an ee cummings poem printed out and taped onto the lightswitch in my art studio so that I see it coming and going. It’s a reminder that spring is always present in a million little ways if I just look hard enough. The color is there. The poem is called Sweet Spring, and the stanza I keep up is

(such a sky and such a sun

i never knew and neither did you

and everybody never breathed

quite so many kinds of yes)

I’m not spending much time in the art studio these days, because I’m busy learning a new way to make a living as an artist and spending all my time at the tattoo studio. I’m working to shape my life into what I want it to be and grabbing every opportunity that comes my way. I’m making all that color mine. When I can. And when I can’t, maybe my tattoo will remind me that there are just

so many kinds of yes.jpg


Rooster Painting Tutorial


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I finally got around to uploading a new painting tutorial. Uploading it took ALL. DAMN. DAY. During which time I debated whether or not I could get away with making cock jokes since it’s a painting of a rooster. But I’m a classy lady, so instead, I’ll leave you to make the jokes for me in the comments if you so desire. If not, just enjoy the video:

Lemon Peel Twist


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I realized that it’s been 7 or 8 weeks since I painted with oils, and after feeling so incompetent learning tattooing, I decided it would be good for me to take a little time out on my day off to do something I actually know how to do. So I got the paintbrushes and oil paints out and finally finished a painting that I had been working on for months. I had set it aside because it just hadn’t been working, but after today, I’m finally ready to call it “finished” and sign the sucker (or, maybe, sign the pucker?).

Lemon Peel Twist.JPG

Lemon Peel Twist 12″ x 16″ oil on board $450

You can purchase the original on my website here, or get prints and other fun stuff featuring this painting here and here. Know a chef? Get it for them! Or, at least, tell them about it and all my other food-inspired art!

Art Nouveau Girl Tattoo


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Remember how I posted a painting and asked if anyone would be willing to let me tattoo it on them? Well, I finally got to do it! Here’s the painting, as a reminder:

art nouveau girl 1

To fit the shape of the shoulder that our lovely volunteer wanted it tattooed on, I changed the design a little bit. We were a little short on time, so there are a couple things I’d like to touch up on it once it’s healed, but overall, I’m good with it.


Drunken Black Whirligig


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It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks. I’ve had a little too much down time. Appointments at the tattoo studio are few and far between since I’m still so new and haven’t developed a big customer base yet (hint hint: tell everyone you know to come see me!). So I’ve had a lot of time to think. That’s not always a good thing for me, because it leads to negative, cyclical swirling in my brain. It’s like my brain is a drunken whirligig of black and gray and more black and more gray. There’s an absense of color in my head sometimes.

I’ve had too much time to look at photos of the tattoos I’ve done and pick them apart and get mad at myself for them not being perfect. I’ve had too much time to worry about the probability that I’ll have to get a job soon since I’m not bringing in much money at the tattoo studio yet. When I’m not constantly distracted, I have too much time to focus on my body, which spends most of its time complaining about its own mere existence and threatening to quit. And when I get tired (which is always) and achy (which is always) and nauseated (which is often), and don’t have a decent distraction, I get little mini flashbacks of those final couple days by my dad’s bedside when I was so utterly drained and exhausted and ill and grief-stricken. And then, of course, I am again grief-stricken.

For some reason, the universe always chooses these moments to give me little nudges to keep me thinking about my dad. Lucky pennies left in the grocery store parking lot, dementia reminders all over the news, tv shows and movies where a parent dies, radio shows about grief…millions of little things that become an onslaught at a moment when I’m already fragile. I’ve cried. A lot. Which is embarrassing when I’m sitting in my tattoo studio room. Not the most professional. Thank god we have doors to close so I can hide for a minute or two and compose myself.

The thing that really gets me is that I’m still not missing my dad. I’m missing my demented dad, my sick dad. And I’m replaying his final days and trying to figure out how I could have spared him that pain somehow. I’m not thinking about him napping happily on the sofa with the cat, or hiking down the train tracks with him, or how he had a very particular way of eating yogurt. I remember those things, sure, but I can’t make myself focus on them. Instead, my brain goes to the hardest, most painful moments with him and replays them over and over. Those painful memories have become syndicated reruns, invading seemingly innocuous moments and leveling me.

I don’t know how to change my focus. I don’t know how to slow the whirligig down and add a little color. I keep trying to will my attention to happier things, like throwing colorful chalk dust onto all the ugliness, but the whirligig just blows the color all away again. I wish there was a way to scrub my memory clean of the dark stuff, because I know there’s color underneath. It’s there. It peeks out periodically. Sometimes it bursts forth and the blackness cracks and shatters and I can sweep it up and toss it out. But the black always comes back. And I’m okay with a little darkness; it’s familiar and makes the good stuff seem that much better. But lately it’s been overwhelming. I wish I could find some balance. Or maybe still have it not be balanced, but have the color on the winning team.

whirligig pinwheel