More Clouds and Feathers

I’m sorry I couldn’t come up with a more interesting title than that.  I sometimes wish I had just numbered these entries instead of laying away at night trying to think of a title.  Not that you should care, this is my cross to bear.

Anyhoo.

For appointment 73, Horizakura continued to outline the phoenix on my chest.  He also added more clouds which are not present in the original painting.  In my previous entry, I suggested that this might be to add more layers and make the thing look more like a tattoo.  I was kinda right.  I asked Horizakura about that during this appointment and he said he is adding the clouds to break up some of the color in the painting.  Traditionally, Japanese tattoo is very judicious with its use of color (This is mostly due to what was available at the time, though I think their lack of pigment ended up contributing to a more specific aesthetic.  That’s a conversation for a different post.) and since the original painting is very colorful, Horizakura believed adding black/gray clouds and wind would help balance that out.

My wife and I are going on vacation, so I’ll be missing my last appointment in March.  Horizakura also has some travel plans, though he may have to cancel due to growing concerns of Covid19.  So I may or may not have an early April appointment.  Take a good look, you may not see me again for a while!

Shake Your Tailfeathers

This post covers an appointment from two weeks ago.  The weekend prior, my camera battery died and my charger was MIA.  It was finally found (left on a job site) so I decided I would post up these pictures in advance of my next appointment tonight.  As a result, you can see some of the lines are still healing.  My only major take-away from this appointment was how fond I am of the background elements he is adding to the piece.  If you look at Hokusai’s painting, there isn’t any wind or cloud elements separating the layers of the tail feathers (for example).  In my opinion, adding these background elements goes a long way in making the phoenix an incorporated element of the whole suit vs. a copy of a painting tattooed on me.  It’s subtle, but I believe it will pay off huge once we’re into shading and color.

Horizakura only did about an hour and change because we were going to meet a mutual friend who was in town.  My next appointment is tonight, so I imagine we will continue with the tail across my lower abdomen.

 

I also thought I would include a little note here about perspective when viewing pictures of tattoos.  Especially when we are evaluating tattoos online, it’s important to remember that you are looking at flat images of three dimensional surfaces.  A good example (and the reason I wanted to add this note) can be seen below.  If you look at the right wing from today’s post, it may appear to be overly thin in comparison to the left wing.  But if you look at this side view taken four weeks ago, you can see how the perspective changes the shape of the wing.  Not earth shattering information, but I figured it was worth pointing out.

“My Collaboration with Hokusai”

Back Story

I’ve been excited to write this post for a long time.  If you’ve been reading this blog for the last year or two, you may remember that Horizakura had a few different ideas for what would go on my stomach.  I was receptive to most of them, but nothing really seemed like the perfect fit.  He said it needed to be something big that would stand out.  It wasn’t until after an appointment in July of last year that we discovered the perfect idea.  As I alluded in that appointment’s blog post, I was telling Horizakura a story about my visit to Obuse and the Hokusai Museum there.  It’s a great little museum and one of the paintings on display there is a smaller version of a painting Hokusai did on the ceiling of a temple.  It is called “Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions” and depicts a phoenix and some leaves.  The painting is designed in such a way that no matter where you stand, it appears to be looking at you.  After looking over the painting, I moved on and didn’t really think much more of it for the rest of my time in the museum.

Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions painted on the ceiling of Ganshoin Temple by Hokusai

After I left the museum, I still had a whole day to kill by myself, so I did what I always do in Japan.  Looked for the nearest temple and took a walk over there.  When I entered, I walked over to the main prayer area where there were benches set up.  I took a seat and noticed another painting of the phoenix from the museum, propped up on a easel in the corner of the room.  Next to it was a sign that asked guests to not lay down on the benches or the ground.  I was a little hungover and, for a split second, I was mystified by this.  In all my temple visits throughout my three trips to Japan, there had never been a sign like this.  “Look up you idiot.”  I turned my eyes up and you guessed it.  I was sitting underneath “Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions.”  I had, by complete accident, wandered into Ganshoin Temple, where Hokusai painted the work in the 1840’s.  I was blown away, not only by the coincidence, but by the imposing nature of seeing the work in person.  It was a really amazing experience.  The cherry on top was that as I looked over the rest of the carvings and art in that room, I noticed the archway leading to the main altar was adorned in part with the same dragon turtle that is tattooed on my right leg.

I left Ganshoin amused that I had unknowingly created a great memory for myself.  After telling Horizakura about this experience, he suggested that we use that phoenix as the main subject of my stomach.  He said, “It will be my collaboration with Hokusai.”  I instantly knew we had made the right choice, and I have been waiting months to see it come to life.

Session 71

For this appointment, Horizakura tattooed the first part of the phoenix across my upper stomach.  Pain is different for everyone, and for me, this was just absolutely terrible.  Specifically, where the feathers begin to go over my sternum and follow the rib under my pec was just brutal.  It certainly didn’t help that I was pretty sick for two days prior to the tattoo, but if you took the time to read the back story above, you may have figured out there was no way I was going to cancel this appointment.  In terms of design, you may notice that he has made some changes to the original.  I assume this is to make it a little more tattoo friendly, but I’m not sure.  I’ll have to ask him.  That’s enough words for one post (indeed too many words, but I’m sure you skipped all of them to look at the pictures).

Leaving My Legs Behind Me

That title is stupid, but I don’t care.  With last nights appointment (number 70 for those keeping track at home), Horizakura has wrapped up shading on my legs for the foreseeable future.  In light of this completely arbitrary milestone, I thought I would take some extra photos to give us all a sense of where we are at now.

Looking ahead, the plan is to start my torso outline in two weeks.  My excitement outweighs my concern for the amount of pain staring at me from the horizon.  If starting my torso wasn’t enough, we also discussed the possibility of just outlining the rest of the body suit over the coming appointments.  In the past I think we have rotated between shading and outline so we (I say we, but it’s mostly him.  I just sit there and nod vigorously.) can figure out what content should be added to other parts of the suit.  Besides a couple details, I think we are mostly set for the rest of the content though.  It’s possible that 2020 will be all outline… but we’ll see.  Plans change all the time and getting a bodysuit is no exception.  This has been a very exciting way to begin the New Year, but for now I am back to my usual activity: Eagerly awaiting my next appointment.

My leg is different now!

Session70Watermark-4

And here is a more all-encompassing look at both of my legs:

Session70WatermarkSession70Watermark-2Session70Watermark-3Session70Watermark-4Session70Watermark-5Session70Watermark-6Session70Watermark-7Session70Watermark-8Session70Watermark-9Session70Watermark-11

Nice.

For my sixty-ninth appointment, Horizakura continued shading the background on my right leg.  I’m not sure how common this is with heavily tattooed people (this might sound crazy, but I don’t really consider myself heavily tattooed), but I’ve noticed that any tattooed area that I can’t see daily often becomes a bit of a mystery to me.  When he began working on the side of my leg just above my knee… well I could have sworn that area was already shaded.  It wasn’t.  Then he moved on to the back of my knee which I knew had some unshaded spots, but I really couldn’t remember how much.  It wasn’t until after the wrap came off and I was able to compare these pictures with pictures from previous weeks that I realized what he worked on.  Our next appointment isn’t until mid January and should be the last appointment on my leg before we move to my stomach.  Time will tell!

Since this is my last appointment of 2019, I thought I would also include some photos that show where the year started.

Boom.

Thigh Pun

For my 68th appointment, I have a tattooed thigh and zero puns.  It’s the day before Thanksgiving.  Gimme a break.

Horizakura spent about 1.5 hours shading the background on my right thigh.  Generally speaking this is a pretty easy place for me to get tattooed… and if I’m being honest I actually fell asleep at one point.  The shop was warm and quiet, the jazz was buttery smooth (I was also super tired), it put me right out for like 10 min.  I was a little startled when I woke up and I think I might have kicked him in the leg.  Being the forgiving man that he is, he didn’t mention it.  Consequently, I felt like a million bucks after my power nap and the rest of the appointment was a pleasure.  It looks like there is maybe 2-3 hours of shading left to do on this leg before we’re out of outlines to fill.  We only have one more appointment on the books for this year, so hopefully this means we will start outlining my stomach at the start of 2020.  I’m very excited for that portion of this tattoo and the moment it captures in my life.

Damnit! I could have called this post “The Thigh’s the Limit!”

Bury My Heart at Swollen Knee

During my 66th appointment with Horizakura, he continued thickening the cave lines and shading the rocks.  I mentioned earlier how tedious and time consuming the thickening is.  Well I’m very happy to report that all the lines of the cave have been thickened, so hopefully from here on out the shading will go a little quicker.  I would have to go back and check my previous posts, but I believe my left knee was done, front and back, in only 2 or 3 sessions.

Nonetheless, all progress is progress.  Frankly, I’m just thrilled that we haven’t had to cancel an appointment in 6 weeks.  That’s the first time that’s happened this year!  Anyway, here are some pictures of my swollen knee: