1. If you were to walk into a room full of people meditating it would appear a very serene place, you would hear almost nothing and that is a strange thing for us to hear in a room full of people these days. Every time I do, I am struck by the fact of how peaceful it all feels, it’s a pleasant moment to bask in all that gentle contemplation. If only it were true! The fact is that most (perhaps all) of those quiet mediators are awash in ideas, thoughts, bits of a half-remembered Pink Floyd songs, vague musings on the perfect shape of the neighbors spouses’ rear end, the bubbling resentment of last weeks argument, and very often, the pricking thought about how one shouldn’t be thinking the things that one is thinking while meditating. Certainly it all calms down, gets somewhat quiet in there with time, but I have never yet gotten up and left the zendo when a friend doesn’t look and me shaking his head and say “man, my brain was all over the place today!” With practice we learn to let these brain burps go by unmolested for the most part but the mind never really ceases sending random bits of thought up the pipe.
2. Tracing paper. It can make or break a tattoo drawing experience. I’m not kidding either, when you use as much of the stuff as tattooers do you get very picky about what you use. For me its Canson or nothing, and nothing else has the smooth, durable texture, clarity and erasibility of this stuff. No one, and I mean NO ONE else makes tracing paper like this, its like some kind of top secret formula. When I have to use that mashed potato looking, shredding, shit-paper from strathmore I always feel like someone took away my steak dinner and replaced it with a steaming turd (and keep in mind that Strathmore is my second favorite. . . ) I’m so serious that I order boxes of the Canson stuff when there is an art supply store selling the other brand right across the street from the shop.
3. I am the worlds biggest poopbutt when it comes to putting up a Christmas tree and lights and all that. The practical part of my mind just goes “why!? it’s a lot of energy for no reason!” Then Cara puts everything up, turns the lights on and I’m all “OOOHHH PRETTY!!!” And I remember why I’m not in charge of the world, it’s because I am a wet-blanket.
4. I heard a radio story about the new TinTin movie and remember fondly reading the comics. It seems like one cannot talk about Tintin without having to explain away or apologize for the fact that the stories Herge’ created in the 1930’s and 40’s contain what look to us as racist stereotypes and xenophobic mores. Which is all true but that is looking at the world through 2011 eyes and we forget that Herge’ had only his immediate experience of the world around him long before the internet and our more enlightened sensibilities. Into his 80’s he explained that had he known the world the way he did no in those days that he, of course, wouldn’t have written them that way. Before we turn too hard of a focus on the shameful attitudes of the past we should pause a minute to consider what future generations will say about us! This is, after all, the generation in which half the folks in this land don’t believe that homosexuals should be given equal rights and where we imprison and execute more people than any other nation, where we refuse to control exploitative and polluting corporations and deny the basic necessities of a society like health care and clean water to its poorest inhabitants. I’m not so sure that in 100 years people wont be looking back on US as the deplorable ones who “should have known better.”
5. If you can’t get into the spirit of the holidays listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio then you need a soul transplant. the guy was a musical genius and had a killer mustache to boot. The guy died at 47 and I really miss what I’m sure would have been another 40+ years of awesome, evocative jazz. No one else seems to be able to capture that 10% sad/90% joyous sound at the same time the way he did.
Now for the pictures!
First up is a piece I have been working on for some time. The customer is an avid carp fisherman and had an old panther he wanted covered. He also has arms the size of tree trunks so we had quite a few sessions into these bad boys. As we went along i found out that his wife loves those little green poison arrow frogs and he wanted to get one in there for her, I was thrilled to get the lil squeaker in there with this big ol kois. In this first picture we had finished the lower arm and drew on the much larger cover-up koi with sharpies. For me the trick isn’t to try to place a pile of black over the cover-up, instead I’m trying to camouflage the old work while still preserving as much of the open skin as possible, ideally when its done you can’t tell there is a coverup at all. In my book the only thing that is worse than a bad tattoo is a cover-up of a bad tattoo that looks like a coverup.
So in this next picture is the final piece with only a bit on the triceps and top of the shoulder still healing. This tattoo took about 18 hours to finish. The client is a great guy and like many of these long session pieces we became friends and I learned a lot about his life and he learned to nod patiently as I went on and on like a babbling idiot :)
This next guy is known in Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu mythology as a Garuda. A sort of half man/half bird who is a protector and steed to the deities. The rainbow one represents the highest order (most protective) of them, i based the body and several illustrations of Garuda but the head I looked at some of the amazing and dramatic carvings from Bali, Indonesia, and the Tibet/Nepal area. this is part of a larger Buddhist themed sleeve that should be done in 2012.
Lastly I did this Indian maiden on a regular customer and aficionado of traditional tattoos. In this business you get to come across all sorts of interesting stories and this customer has a twin sister. I have tattooed them both extensively (and differently but every so often one of them will get a tattoo and within a few weeks the other will want the same subject matter. The trick is to do them differently enough so that it doesn’t look like I got lazy and used the same stencil twice! They both sit great and are wearing some of the best traditional type work I have been lucky enough to get to do.
That is it for now, I have some really cool pieces in the works and I cant wait to show them here soon. I really feel like I’m stepping up another level in my work! At this point i can almost feel when the ten thousand tiny little individual baby steps forward I have made are ready to coalesce into something visible to the casual viewer, I feel like I have been pushing really hard to keep progressing and hopefully it will be evident in my work.