Michael’s Tattoo

Sun tattooI originally desigend this tattoo for Michael back in August 2005. Michael, who resides in San Francisco, wanted a design of the sun, a symbol he has always had a strong connection to. Over the span of a few weeks we went through several different designs and colours styles before we came up with the perfect image for him.

However, he didn’t actually get the tattoo until July 2009, while visiting Fargo, North Dakota. The tattoo artist did a phenomenal job, and I was extremely impressed with how well it came out.

For his design, the symbol, like Michael himself, is one that radiates creative emergence. The essence is the centre of the sun, which contains the symbol for the origins of the universe, depicting the seed of the universe rotating clockwise in the spiral of potential energy. I’ve met Michael a few times, and the amount of positive and creative energy emerging from him was also what I wanted to capture in the symbol.

(Photo courtesy Michael’s charming husband Jase Wells)

Simon’s Soul

Once again, another wondrous and mystical collaboration with a very willing and open client. Simon emailed me back in January as he was emerging from a dark time in his life. He was turning over a new leaf and embarking on significant changes to his life and mindset. Part of his new direction involved buying a new condo which he wanted to decorate with his own artistic flair, which included a reverence to his life in symbols.

This painting came about one morning as he was sitting on his couch having his tea before work and focusing his mind on how fortunate he has been in his life. He wrote me stating he wanted something “significant, pertinent, beautiful and spectacular” to fill his walls.

“… I want those walls to carry positive images, something that evokes positive feelings…images of aboriginal icons came to me because they are mysterious, they have a meaning, every time you look at them they are different but also they are minimal-geometric, they are a brilliant exercise of concise synthesis and communication of ideas…I realized that what I was thinking of at that moment was the images from your art work and I thought right then and there that the “something special, significant, pertinent, spectacular” I want there to fill my walls is one of your art pieces….I would be honoured if you consider to paint something for me in that big format …something that would be an inspiration everyday when I have my tea in the mornings, and something that welcomes me after a day out. Something that inspires me and tells something about me in that simple language of lines and planes of aboriginal symbols. Something that would lift my spirit and reminds me of all that is good and well.”

And thus, our journey began.

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Turtle Tattoo

My client Jennifer and I had been talking on and off for a few months about her getting a tattoo done. Although she wasn’t quite ready to get a tattoo yet, she wanted me to keep some ideas in mind for when she was. She knew she wanted a turtle, but she also wanted something that embodied her 2 young children, Ashton (8) and McKenna (7). Although they are only 10 months apart, personality wise they are complete opposites. We wanted to find something that both accentuated and harmonized their differences. What better than Yin and Yang? But that seemed a bit too prosaic. I wanted more than that, and suggested we use the Sun and Moon and their favourite colours to represent each child. McKenna is the sun with vibrant reds and energetic yellows, and Ashton the moon with deep and soulfully reflective blues. Jenn’s favourite colour was green, so we made the outline of the turtle green.

Jennifer had this permanently embedded upon her person on August 3, 2006.

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The Gardner family presents their paintingsI tend to not paint very much between January and April. I don’t know why. It just sort of happens that way each year. Maybe to give my hand (and head) a rest, maybe just the winter blues tampering with my chi and dampening my motivation. Then as the snow melts so does my hibernating mind, and the ideas start to flow. Then more and more ideas come, and my head explodes into torrent of inspiration and I can’t get to a canvas quick enough.

The catalyst that sparked me out of my winter coma and into my painting frenzy this year was Lori and John. I am very fortunate to have so many people who believe in me (through acquaintance or just word of mouth), that (similar to a few other clients), when they purchased their new house, they told me to come over before they had moved any furniture in and “pick a wall.” They didn’t care what went up on the wall, they just wanted me to paint “them” however I saw them.

Their entire house has marvellous deep taupe walls and rich hardwood floors. For me, taupe is the “universal donor” of back-drops because not only is it calming and “earthy” (along with the hardwood), but it goes with just about every colour in my personal paint pallet.

The name for this set of paintings came from a song I listened to (repeatedly… of course) while designing the five individual paintings that represent this extraordinary family. Yeha-Noha is based on a chant of the Native Americans meaning “Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity.” It could not be more appropriate for the new house under whose roof these five amazing spirits now reside.

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Follow Your Bliss (Truth Courage Passion)

The wonderful thing about painting for other people is that (both artistically and otherwise) they take you places you wouldn’t normally go if you were only working at a level within your own self. You gain a different perspective by jumping inside their head and crawling around in their skin for a while. Not just to see the world how they see it… but to learn what they have learned by looking at the world this way. It is amazing what you can gain when you are willing to give up your strength, for a time, to learn the strength of another.

This painting was done for my good friend, divine doppelganger, and fellow Peter Gabriel disciple, Ralph Joseph. The title for this hanging comes from his recording company name, Sukha Records. Sukha is Sanskrit for “Finding Your Bliss,” (which I have done a slight variation on, though I’m not the first, I believe Joseph Campbell beat me to it). Not so coincidentally, it is also the motto by which Ralph lives his life. Quite simply, Ralph is a Radiant Manifestation of the Universe, and that is what I have tried to capture in this hanging.

This is the meaning behind Ralph’s painting:

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Rhonda’s Seahorse

About 2 months before Rhonda and I ventured down to see U2 in San Francisco, she started to contemplate the idea of getting a tattoo on our trip. She said if I designed something for her, she’d definitely get a tattoo. Great, it was decided. Then I promptly drew a blank… for a month. Calling up memory banks….. wrrrrrrr….. nuthin.

The dragonfly had recently come to me, but I wasn’t sure if that was meant for Rhonda or for Ralph’s hanging (see Follow Your Bliss for more info) which I was also doing at
the same time. I thought the dragonfly would work as it reminded me of the R.E.M. lyric “the dragonflies are busy buzzing me,” and Rhonda is the biggest R.E.M. fan on the planet (she has traveled all over the world to party personally with the band). But the deeper I got into Ralph’s painting, the more I knew that symbol was meant solely for him. Rhonda is an architectural technologist, so I wanted something representative of angled design that also incorporated swirled refinement. The days were ticking down and I was feeling the pressure of finding a symbol. But nothing was coming to me.

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Snake Ox Sun

These were painted for Cyndi and Klaus who were married in April (I think I was at their wedding… it’s a bit foggy…) There are 3 paintings in total.

The Ox is for Cyndi’s Chinese year of birth. The Snake is for Klaus’s Chinese year of birth. The Sun is one of my favourite symbols I’ve used in many hangings. It is simply shining down upon Cyndi and Klaus’s happy union.

I listened almost exclusively to the second disc of Moby’s Hotel, in particular, Chord sounds. I kid you not, that music is the soundtrack to what I heard before I was born. Completely swept me away for days on end just surfing the cerebral highway… waxin’ the ethereal realm… tripping the firmament wind fantastic. You get the idea. I have to tie a bungy cord to my waist when I listen to it cuz I swear I’ll just disappear right into oblivion otherwise, never to be seen again. Even the first time I heard I knew where every chord was going, and where it resided before it become audible. It seemed I’ve waited a lifetime to hear it. It really blew me away.

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The Eye

You know… I had a really good reason for coming up with this name while I was painting this one. But, akin to the fellow who first discovered insulin… I forgot to write down why it is that name struck me. I can tell you, I’m sure it was something brilliant. This is in my living room.

Although I find my “inner animal” is essentially an otter, I still use the bird and whale as my symbols. I use the bird as I was born in the year of the bird (Tibetan). Okay, and yes I admit, I’m a Richard Bach fan and there is probably something in there which is a throw back to paying homage to Jonathon Livingston Seagull. I also love the resiliance of the whale (I have a Maori tattoo of a whale tale on my ankle), symbolizing strength, bravery, cosmic truth, and unity.

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Hanging 14 untitled

This was originally done for my new house, but realized once I hung it up that the red in the painting was a bit too much for my deep terra cotta walls. Oddly enough, Rhonda had recently renovated her place, and this fit PERFECTLY into the space and colour scheme her bedroom (eerily so), so it didn’t take long for this hanging to find the perfect owner and home that matched it so completely.

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Hanging 12 – Untitled

This one went to Delores for her partner in crime. I used the turtle and the lizard as symbolism in this hanging, as well as my 2 different images of the sun / moon. Much of this was also done right-handed (injured my hand painting Pending Sun) as there was a rush to get it done so she could give it to him for Christmas. How I suffer for my art!

Went retro while painting this one, 80s tunes were the order of the day. China Crisis’s “Wishful Thinking” and Ric Ocasek’s “Emotion in Motion” were played at least more than once…

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