Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inking thinking

Without much fanfare the other day, I officially turned Another Year Older. The day was lovely enough - sunshine, a latte handed to me before I was even out of bed, a home-cooked breakfast, and recipient of a generous gift card to fancy day spa. I had to work in the evening, but hey, that's part of being a grown up, right? At any rate, the day was about a thousand times better than last year's birthday.

Maybe it's an early mid-life crisis, who knows? But the strangest thing happened. I woke up on my birthday, and decided I want a tattoo. Not just that I want one, but where I want it on my body, what I want the subject to be, and the style. Incredibly specific ideas. These desires came from nowhere, and nobody was more surprised than myself.

It's not that I'm against tattoos at all, but I spent much of my twenties telling myself I'd probably get one one day, when the right design or image jumped out at me. I didn't want to just pick one from a book in a tattoo parlour, or go for anything common or clich├ęd. I liked the idea of frangipanis because they're my favourite scent, but then began noticing women with frangipanis tattooed on their feet, ankles or wrists... so I quietly went off that idea.

By my early thirties, I'd accepted the fact that I hadn't found the 'right one', and gave up. After the Faery and Miss Pie came into my life, I thought that maybe it'd be nice to get a tattoo of a lily and jasmine (their middle names). Still, I could never imagine how to incorporate the two flowers into a design I liked, nor could I make up my mind which body part to have tattooed, so I gave up that idea too. Many of my friends have tattoos - one is actually a fantastic tattoo artist - so I shrugged it off and decided it wasn't meant to be - that to not have a tattoo these days was probably more unique anyway.

After finally getting to be in a field of tulips last weekend, and this being my umpteenth spring filling vases at home with tulips, I guess tulips are on the brain right now... enough that I want them under my skin too. The realisation was a bit of a lightbulb moment - I've always loved tulips, and it seems so obvious now. They may not have the heady scents of frangipanis, lilies or jasmine, but they're elegant, standing tall and strong. That resonates with me as I'm a bit of a no-frills person myself.

I also realised that if I'm going to go to the trouble and pain of a tattoo, then I want to be able to see it - easily, without a mirror or having to contort my body. This rules out my back, shoulders or neck. Also, I'm at an age where I'm not concerned about covering a tattoo up. I tend to work in fields where the odd tattoo on display isn't going to raise eyebrows anyway. Getting ink on my feet doesn't appeal for some reason, and anywhere that's going to sag in due time is not on my list. I don't know why I'd never thought of it before, but my inner wrist or (if a wider design) inner forearm, near the crook of my elbow, is ideal - with the design's top in the direction of my hand so that I don't have to admire it upside down or sideways. This is for me, after all, and no one else.

As far as designs go, I want something stylised and not hyper-realistic, but not abstract either. After searching google images for tulip tattoos yesterday, I don't want it to be some ambiguous flower bud. It was good to see what designs are out there, to help me know what I don't want it to be. I also did a general image search of tulips for ideas, and what I saw reminded me of how much I love art deco, art nouveau, and stained glass images so I think that's the direction this will go in. If I find a font I love, I may still incorporate the girls' names into the design (I'm thinking two tulips total for the design - one to represent each girl), but only if it won't look fussy.

The only person I'll consider for the tattoo gig is my friend. He's been solidly building his reputation in recent years. Before his musician days, his background was in graphic design so he is mighty handy with creating new tattoos. He and his family are great fun to hang out with, and our eldest girls are good little buddies (they went to school together). I like the idea of someone I know personally doing the tattoo. The only catch is they live in Los Angeles. That's okay, though. It means I can take my time in getting the design perfect, rather than impatiently rushing to get it done here in Seattle. It's also further incentive to plan an eventual trip back to L.A.

Some of the inspiration I've found so far:

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I love the idea of having two tulips, in an oval shape with a border, with pops of colour like the stained glass.

Mid-life crisis or not, I'm genuinely excited at the thought of having a lovely, permanent piece of art on my skin. Happy birthday to me!

Monday, April 14, 2014

What cherry blossoms?

Cherry blossoms are so yesterday.

Over the weekend, I fulfilled one of my other bucket list items - to be surrounded by fields of tulips.

Along with who knows how many other thousands, we drove an hour north of Seattle to the Skagit Vally Tulip Festival. Thankfully, we arrived early enough to beat the nightmarish traffic, and any time we did spend sitting in the car en route was totally worth it. It was the warmest, most cloudless day yet this year, and by the end of our visit I had several hundred photos under my belt, one bunch of  the lovely-sounding chameur tulips, and a catalogue for tulip-bulb ordering. I may have a black thumb, dammit, but seeing how effortlessly tulips seem to flourish here in Seattle, I am determined to grow some of my own for next spring.

Funnily enough - given the T-shirt and flip-flops weather - we capped the day by stopping off at a popular outlet mall on the way home, and successfully found North Face and Columbia waterproof snow gear for both the girls at almost half their normal retail price. They won't be needing them for some time, but come next winter there'll be no more need for raincoats layered over puffy jackets - they'll finally have the proper attire for some serious snow adventures. Now just to get myself kitted out...

Disclaimer: If tulips bore you, look away now.