Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Tattoo Tale

At the gentle age of 60, I confess I don't understand tattoos.

That is not a moral judgement. There are many subjects of which I profess ignorance without making comments regarding whether the subject is good or bad or right or wrong, subjects such as calculus or quantum physics or women in general.

To make a permanent image on one's skin is truly beyond my ken especially as the canvas is subject to some serious ravages of time. I fear many a tattoo from a youthful impulse will somewhat change over the passage of years.

"That's a nice tattoo of a dachshund you have on your forearm."

"Excuse me, but that's an Egyptian ankh superimposed on a heart lying on a bed of roses! I've had this for fifty years now!"

"Oh, yes! Of course! Plain as day. Sorry."
Pink Roses, by Nadja Van Ghelue

Yet this afternoon I saw a tattoo that took my breath away.

I'm a huge fan of oriental paintings, especially watercolors. For me, one of the delights of eating at an oriental restaurant is the simple pleasure of being surrounded by oriental art.

This afternoon, while checking out at Aldi's, I noticed a striking tattoo on the arm of the woman working checkout. A bouquet of flowers sprang up her forearm and the colors were unusually bold, yet they lacked a strong border looking very much like the watercolor pictured above.

Normally, I am reticent about engaging strangers in conversation, but I commented on how striking her tattoo looked and how much it looked like a Japanese watercolor. Proudly, she pulled up the sleeve of her sweater revealing the bouquet trailing up her arm.

"I have a hummingbird tattooed on my chest," she told me, "and then I had these flowers added. They go up this arm and across my chest to provide a background. It was all done freehand."

The flowers, the leaves, and their stems all looked like strokes from a fine-haired brush. How the tattoo artist achieved that is way beyond my understanding.

I suppose if one is going to become a canvas, I cannot conceive of any other vision as to what I saw this afternoon. Though I will easily avoid such temptation in the future (I imagine it would be like trying to paint a Monet on the surface of butterscotch pudding),  I can only imagine what it must due to one's spirit to see such art a permanent part of one's identity marked by such beauty.

I sense a story.

And, yes, this is the second time I have written a piece praising a work of tattoo art. Best to stock up on tin meat and canned water. This is probably a sign of the impending Apocalypse.

1 comment:

  1. I shall have to keep following your blog so I can get further signs of the Apocalypse! :)

    Here is an interesting article about the historical & present use of the cross tattoo among the Copts.