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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.

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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

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborudorum

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My last couple Saturdays have been, apparently, Badass Babe Days. Lots of women coming in for their very first tattoos, or tattoos that are meant to remind them of their own inner strength (or both). This past Saturday was no exception, and I freakin’ LOVE being a part of it. I know these two women well, and we’ve bonded, in part, because they’ve each already lost a parent, too, and because they’ve had their own medical battles to contend with like I have. So getting to remind them of their own badassery makes me really happy:

Sarah D's daisy.jpg

For this next one, my friend came in and just got the outline and some shading, and she’ll be back once it’s healed a bit to add color. I love that she went so bold for her very first tattoo.

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Doesn’t she remind you of Rosie the Riveter?

Crosshatched Fairy

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If you recall had this idea for a tattoo I wanted to attempt, and I posted it on here and on my social media and asked if anyone would let me do it. I had 2 people say yes, so I got one lined up (it’s happening in soon), and then offered a different idea to the other person. Here’s what I sent her:

drawing for Bonnie's fairy.jpg

She requested fairy ears, and we were good to go! Here’s the final product (my 19th tattoo, and the largest I’ve done in the 3 weeks that I’ve been tattooing):

Bonnie's fairy

I did the whole thing with a liner needle to get that crosshatched look. Takes a little longer than a shader, and I was worried it’d end up harsher than shading it in traditionally, but it ended up staying nice and soft. I just sort of grazed the skin to keep it light, so we’ll have to see once it heals how much of the ink disappears and how much stays nice and solid. Experimentation!

Gertie

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We used to do Pet Portrait classes at my sip and paint studio, and one of my customers (who has since become a friend) came every time and painted one of her cats. She did a bunch of great paintings of her furry friends, but her favorite kitty, Gertie, was a fluffy, black, little thing. She was Sarah’s other half.

Sarah Badore

Recently, Gertie passed away, and Sarah decided she wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her little buddy. She sent me a sheet with several watercolor kitties, so we decided to combine her painting of Gertie with the style of the watercolor kitties:

gertie.jpg

I was so honored to be part of this. First, to get to help her make a great painting of her buddy while she was still alive, and then to help her commemorate Gertie now that she’s gone. This is the kind of thing I was really looking forward to when I decided to learn to tattoo. I love being able to help people document a part of their lives and do something that really means something to them. Here’s the final tattoo:

Gertie III

A Painting of a Tattoo of a Painting

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Here’s a fun little story about a tattoo I did last week. When I created this painting for my tattoo room…

Artist

…one of the flowers I used as inspiration for the bottom of the painting was from an art nouveau painting:

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When I posted my painting online, a friend messaged that she wanted to get an art nouveau flower tattoo and she sent me several images for reference. One of them was this same flower! Fate, people! The universe wanted her to get this tattoo from me, lol.

Here is the tattoo itself, and below it is a pic of her with the tattoo next to the painting. Love!

Rylee flower

Rylee with my painting

All In

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I had a customer today who had an old tattoo on her inner arm that was misspelled and she wanted to get something else on the other arm to match it. So she changed the words, but decided to go all in on the misspelling. The first side said “To weird to live, to weird to die.” So I just did a tattoo for her that said “To stubborn to give up, to proud to give in.” I checked and double-checked with her to make sure she understood it was supposed to be “too” and not “to,” and she confirmed and reconfirmed. Hard to argue with her commitment. I did not take a pic because I didn’t really want to show it off as part of my portfolio, but now I’m kind of regretting that because you, lovely readers, would have enjoyed it immensely. Sorry ’bout that. But here are a couple other tattoos I did over the last few days:

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Kathy sisters heart

Tattoo Idea

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One of the things I’m figuring out as I learn tattooing is to think a little differently in how I create artwork. You don’t approach a tattoo the same way you work with acrylic or oil paints. It’s kind of similar to watercolor and drawing, except not. The order you do everything is different, and like when I was learning how to sculpt out of foam, I struggle to make my brain wrap around something that is totally different from everything I know. It’s different from what I’m used to being good at, so this is kind of a painful process for me. I hate being mediocre. To struggle at art, the one thing I’m actually really confident at doing, is really uncomfortable. But I want to learn, so I’m pushing through the discomfort and trying to grow as I learn this new medium.

In an effort to learn without the pressure of making something perfect that’ll be on someone’s body forever, I’m returning to canvas and paper and trying to create works that would translate well onto skin. I’ve seen some really fantastic tattoos of women, and I’d love to do one soon. So I’m playing around with ideas. If anyone wants to let me tattoo this one on them, lemme know. I know it’s a long shot, but I figure it can’t hurt to ask, right?

art nouveau girl 1

If you’re not up for getting this as a tattoo, but would like a print, t-shirt, tote bag, laptop skin, sticker, shower curtain, or just about anything else, you can get it here and here.

I’m Workin’

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I’ve had way more opportunities to practice the noble art of drawing on people with needles than I’d thought possible. I’ve had friends offer to let me play on them, I’ve had strangers take a chance. And some of them have even paid me AND asked to pay me for a second one. I mean, hell yes. So following those first few that I posted the other day, here are some more I’ve gotten to do:

beebutterflyconstellation watercolorno day but todayorigami cranesemicolon

teddy bear touch upcross heart ekg

Here’s what I’m learning: There are a lot of different needles. There are a lot of different skin types. There are a lot of different inks. There are a lot of different tattoo machines. There are a lot of different power sources and cords. And now you know what you need to know to tattoo. You’re welcome.

Sunflower Painting Video

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I just realized that I uploaded another instructional painting video about a month ago and never posted it here. So guess what I’m doing? Posting it here. I know. You didn’t see that coming, did you? I’m just full of surprises. Anyway, sit back, eat some nom nom, and watch a painting happen. Or grab a paintbrush and paint along. Either way, enjoy!