Monday, September 26, 2011

Chrysanthemums and Rocks

Got another chunk drawn on and outlined.  It was one of those rare and wonderful times when the pen touches the skin and kind of does all the work for you.  This was just pretty much one pass and we were happy with it.  Sometimes there is a lot of erasing and re figuring, but sometimes if your mind is clear and you're not forcing it, it just happens.
I mentioned before, that this section would be just chrysanthemums and rocks, and here is the quick overview of why:
He has two matching half sleeves that we did years ago.  One side is a young Musashi (the most famous swordsman in Japanese history, who's philosophical writings are some of the most influential musings on the warrior's way ever printed.  Google "Dokkodo" for a good introduction...) and the other side is an old Musashi.
As a young man, Musashi was a brash and gifted swordsman who went undefeated in countless duels and gained great notoriety.  As an older man, he lived as a hermit, and in his final years he retreated to a cave to write and paint, reflecting on his life's journey. 
I think the upper half sleeves represent a personal journey, and the pursuit of a higher state of mind (especially through art for this dude).  When he decided to bring the arms down to 3/4 length we decided not to complicate it thematically and compete with the images of Musashi, so we went floral.  
On the young Musashi side, we did all peonies with rocks and water.  The peony is associated with spring, which in turn represents youth and vigor.  Also this great line lifted from Wikipedia says it well: "The peony became a masculine motif, associated with a devil-may-care attitude and disregard for consequence.
 Also, the water gives a feeling of mental looseness and flow.  Here's an old quote from Bruce Lee that kind of sums it up: "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend."
On the old Musashi side we did chrysanthemums as they are associated with the fall, representing the twilight of life in this case.  Spring to fall, the cycle of life and all that jazz...
And the rocks are solid and immovable, as his mindset had evolved over the years.
So that is a little glimpse into the thought process behind this set of arms.  It is always nice when you can give somebody a nice set of tattoos and really be able to tell a story with them.
Here are some pictures of the lower portion of the "young" arm that we're almost done with:

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