Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tattoo You

Maybe I wasn't really paying attention, or perhaps it is my newer appreciation for patterns (due to Zentangle)... but I have been noticing tattoos on more and more older women. I mean "older" as in "not teenagers." I always associated tattoos with tough, motorcycle guys and teenagers. You turn sixteen, get a tattoo and some body piercings... But, with the older women, is it more of a battle scar? Or is it like making notches on a prison wall to record the time passing?

The most amazing tattoo I have seen was on a dad in the Child Impact class one is forced to take when divorcing.  His entire arm was drawn and shaded with ink to look like it was mechanical. A robot arm of metal and wire. He might have been a poor excuse for a husband, but "wow" what a tattoo!

The womens tattoos I have seen are more predictable, bows and flowers. Pretty. But what justifies the pain of sticking needles into your skin?  I do have a fascination with the Mehndi henna tattoos that women wear in India. I would love to learn how to create those. But they are not permanent, just an intricate stain. I could imagine having permanent tattoos of some of those designs if they were henna colored - not the usual blue. I think my aversion to the classic blue tattoos comes from my own medical experiences. I have three blue-dot tattoos from radiation I had as a kid. I looked like I was jabbed three times, in the face, with a ball-point pen. And I can remember, very clearly, how much it hurt to have the dye injected under my skin! I used to tell my friends that they were micro-tattoos and the designs could only be seen with a microscope. I guess I was a little bit "cool" too because I was the only twelve year old around with tattoos. Most of us were still begging for pierced ears!

Now that I am ... "older" and contemplating the mid-life crisis thing... a real tattoo seems so tame. I do consider having my blue dots turned into something more exciting, like an eye of Horus or a zendala. But I can't get past the needle-thing. So I stew in my cowardice and lack of self-confidence because I am now too old to rebel properly.

But, all is not lost! I may lack the courage to deface my... ah... face. But I realized that I have been tattooing my surroundings for years! Yes, bathroom floors, furniture, cows.... And since a divorce seems to scream for a new tattoo, I tackled my Living Room wall, just before the eye surgery. I covered (almost) the entire wall with chalkboard paint and then drew Zentangles around the edges. I will probably use this project in the next Zentangle book (!!!?) but I had to show it to you now. It still needs some shading and stuff, but my daughter (who is my biggest fan) was flattered and thrilled that I used her own tangle - "Lilah Beans" (the little people) on the right side of the mural. And she promptly grabbed the chalk and added her own creatures.
It's a bird. Yes, of course, you already knew that.

A tiny turtle!
So, I think for now I will stick with vandalising my stuff. But I will push myself to get some of those great water-slide temp-tattoos made.... hmmm...


  1. Oh Sandy... I am giggling at your post ! Why you say? Well... I am one of those older women with tatoos !! 3 to be exact ! lol !! I was giggling at your description of tattoos typically seen on older women. I too have the flowers, on my shoulder blade. A heart and rose on my left breast, and wings on my ankle. I went through a divorce and married a biker dude. What a mistake. Anyway.. The giggling part is from the rose on my chest. As I have aged the rose has become a long stemmed one !! LOL !!! I know... I am bad! Just had to make you laugh !! lol !! Love your home tattoos !! HUgs... Kristy

  2. My daughter is a fan of body art - to my dismay. If your tattoo artist is not good - you are stuck with it forever!!! I'm with you- leaving my mark on inanimate objects, not my body!!! The only needles I can handle are in my sewing machine!!LOL

  3. Hi Sandy: Just got Yoga for Your Brain and I love it. Follow your blog all the time. It's a interesting point you raise about the trend in older women getting tattoos. I'm 64, and probably would never do it. But it begs the question is it rebellion in formerly "good" gals and they just want a little fun, is it just body art, does it have a deeper meaning. Who knows? I'll stick to paper and ink! Have a great week.


  4. from the Four Bitchin' Babes' song -

    Give adipose tissue the name it deserves.
    Call it ... "personal strategic energy reserves"
    and call stretch marks "organic tattoos"

    Ha ha!!

  5. Sandy,
    I love reading your blog. As an art teacher, I' chronically feel the need to "tag" my surroundings. I got my first 2 tattoos when I was 19, right before I got engaged. There are some places a woman shouldn't have tattoos done. At 21 I was pregnant and the rose on my stomach begs to be removed! I've been meaning to get my foot tattooed for the past two summers, but don't know what to get: Guess I could draw a tangle to get tattooed. I do LOVE all of your tattooed surroundings. Keep up the great work!

  6. Dear,Dear Sandy, You make me smile! As a "mature woman" (with Plenty of those "personal strategic energy reserves") I have always said that I have quite enough pain in my life without volunteering for more.
    I can admire other people's "ink" but it would require some kind of Major Life Event to convince me to do this to myself!

    BTW: I LOVE "Yoga for Your Brain"

    and one of my "confirmation words" this week was "beezchem" I thought of you!

  7. You inspired a post on my blog with this (thanks, I need all the help I can get!)

  8. I have a friend who is almost 60. One of the first girls I knew to ever get a tat. It's roses etc on her shoulder and back and she is soooo embarrassed now, she keeps it all covered up. Sometimes I think we don't look far enough into the future. Anyway, love your blog, your books and you're funny too! Funny ha ha not funny weird.

  9. Great idea with the chalkboard and excellent execution!

  10. Hi Sandy,
    I have been reading your blog for some time now, and enjoying every post. I have Totally Tangled and Yoga For The BRain, plus the Zentangle box from Maria and Rick. Now all I need is to get started!!
    Thanks for your info and get well soon,

  11. Sandy!
    First, I love your site, and check in often.
    Second, get well soon, and remember...This too shall pass.
    Now, on to tattoos! You made me laugh (yes, in a good way)! I am 50 years young, and have approximately 35% of my body covered in art ( foofy flowers here). By my 55th birthday, all but my face should be covered with a neuveaux-japanese style. The style of machinery under the skin is called bio-mech, and I will most likely end up with some of that as well.
    My youngest son is a piercer, and my oldest is a tattoo artist. Mine was the first skin either boy worked on. Usually there is a story to each piece, tho not always. My son has done way to many memorial pieces on women. The most heart wrenching that stands out was a woman who came into the shop about two years ago. She seemed pallid and frail. When my son asked if he could help her, she barely seemed to notice him, and then handed him a piece of paper with a tiny footprint on it. It was the birth-print of her still-born son from just 8 hours prior. He carefully tattooed this tiny footprint over her heart, crying with her all the while. He did not charge her any more than a hug in his bear-like arms and a promise to go home to her family, and drove her there. She had walked 4 miles alone to his shop.
    We prefer the silly unicorns and flowers any day.
    Thank you for all of your joyful laughter on your site.
    Silverpaw Dragonsong

  12. Ok - that made me cry too. So many different reasons to get a tattoo. Battle scars should be added to the list. It is nice to know that we can help people as artists. Artists do get a bad rep as being flakey, starving, and self-centered. But in reality, many artists seem to tear out their own innards to try and connect with the world. I have never been able to make art just for myself. I guess that is why I am an illustrator, not a painter. If... when... I get my real tattoo... it would need a higher purpose. But, now I keep thinking of the little fotprint. :-( Your son is a good man. :-)

  13. I did cry over the post about the tiny footprint, I choose celebrate what time He had in Love, Laughter, Life, though not long. I am glad you all cried though. Your son gave Her healing.
    Now, have you never watched Kat Von D? She has Blue or Black Stars on Her face. Like the the character in Star Trek that has symbiont Lt Jadzia Dax. They were very conservative when they decorated around Her Face.
    They were scared it would blow people off.
    Kat V D on Facebook:
    If you want a real tattoo, go to Corey Miller. If I ever did one - I would get him to do it. Fantastic.
    have a great Tatto Day!

  14. I am trying to take a class this March! In Zentangle not Taatatatoooo!

  15. Hiya! I recently started tangling (I've done a grand total of TWO!) and found your blog whilst browsing. I love your pieces, and particularly I really really want my own wall to do zentangle on now! I've awarded you a stylish blogger award -
    Can't wait to read more.


  16. I'm 59, and I have a tattoo on my lower left hip area that I got when I was 26, and still adore having. Nary a regret, and I'm actually considering having a partial sleeve done in the near future. People who find out I have a tattoo are always surprised, as they see me as conservative. Oh, how little they truly know! Har!


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