This week I missed all my classes due to having been sick all week. It has been tough to keep up with all my work but I have been managing to get some done in the evenings like right now. Luckily, last week I made a week-by-week plan for my project all the way up to week 12, so I have known exactly what I need to do to stay on track. As for this week I have completed all of my set tasks and the tattoo ink I ordered has arrived so I am now ready to get practicing during reading week. Whilst i begin to tattoo I will also take note of the actual sound of the tattoo machine and process and write a bit about that, and now that I have researched symbolisms I am ready to start thumbnailing compositions for my tattoo.
‘Allegory of Vanity’,
Antonio de Pereda y Salgado, 1632-1636, Kunsthistoriches Museum Wien
The artist of this vanitas painting was born 1611 and died 1678. His works were religious and often royal commissions. He was influenced by Netherlandish painting styles and typically included symbols of skulls, burnt out candles, jewels, hour glasses, and this painting shows a winged female that can be presumed to be an angelic figure.
‘Allegory on Human Life’
Joris Van Son, 1658-1660, The Walters Art Museum Maryland
Joris Van Son lived between 1623 and 1667 in Belgium. His still life paintings often comprised of fruits, flowers, banquets and objects of bright colour. Whilst researching this painting I found that it is considered a Pronkstilleven. The wreath of ripe, colourful fruit and flowers surrounds a skull, hourglass and a burning candle that are all shrouded in darkness. The painting has been related by some to the resurrection of Christ, whilst others have said that it represents the allegory that ‘Life overcomes death’ and ‘beauty transcends the passing of time’.
‘Banquet Still Life’
Adriaen van Utrecht, 1644, oil on canvas, 186 x 243cm, Rijks Museum, Amsterdam
Adriaen van Utrecht lived between 1599 and 1652. He was known for still life paintings depicting banquets, game, fruit, markets, kitchens and farmyard scenes, often with the presence of live animals. Utrecht is considered one of the creators of the style of vanitas paintings: Pronkstilleven.
Pronkstilleven paintings are still life Vanitas paintings that were developed in Antwerp in the 1640s. The term is Dutch for ‘Ornate’, ‘Ostentatious’ and ‘Sumptuous’ still life, and like typical still life paintings they have hidden connotations in their composition. Pronkstillevans depict abundance, in a bid to represent the transience and emptiness of wealth, the ultimate extinction of earthly life an to remind the viewer to practice moderation and discipline.
I find this style of painting extremely interesting and thoughtful. Not only are the compositions visually beautiful and draw in an audience, they have so many carefully constructed symbolisms that all add towards a larger overarching message about life. In my tattoo design I want to draw on this approach in order to create a work that represents my understanding of my present consciousness but also how experiences with death, grief and mourning in life create a sense of grounded-ness and desire to be a better person and live a better life.
Tattoo Location on the Body as the ‘Site’…
This week I have also done some research into the connotations behind tattoo placement on the body. I have been trying to decide what area of my body I should design my tattoo for, and learning the meanings behind different locations in relation to how other people view it but also in terms of spiritual energy has helped me decide.
Confident, Tough, Proud, Willing to attract attention, Design represents the energy you are ‘putting out’.
Burden, Carrying, Energy.
Confident, Bold, Personal, The imagery is incredibly important to you.
What you are trying to control/ let go of, Embrace, Display.
Bold, Courageous, Committed.
Confident, Strong, Sometimes telling a story (large-scale), Carrying the tattoo.
Love, Meaningful, Special, Family.
Sentimental value, Decorative.
Discreet, Private, Personal, Introverted.
Due to my findings on the meanings behind differing tattoo placements and also to follow on from my research into traditional Japanese tattoo style and large back pieces that tell a story, I feel that a back tattoo would be the most effective way for me to collate all my ideas and meanings into a large tattoo design.
This week I also tasked myself with researching and choosing some symbols for my design, as for a Vanitas-like pieces I will need lots of symbolic motifs. I looked back into one of my tattoo books, Tattoo Meanings & Tattoo Design Symbolisms by Grahame Garlick, and these are the motifs that I think I want to include and their connotations.
Growth, change, rebirth, the soul, freedom, love.
Ephemeral, fleeting life, beauty.
Death, morality, inevitability.
Catch negative thoughts and feelings, safety, care, positivity.
Connection with spirits (Druids, Native Americans), ascension, rebirth, freedom.
Dagger in teeth of a skull
Ferocity, readiness in the face of death, fight, preparedness.
Beauty that grows from muddy/ dirty water, purity, spirituality, awakening, potential to develop into who you’re meant to be.
Elegance, beauty, love, strength.
I also gave thought to what other elements, elements of ‘me’ I want to include and represent. I thought of: my pets (passed and present), clouds, hearts, stars, mystical imagery like the moon and fairies and maybe unicorns. Hints of psychedelic art. I kind of want to encapsulate how I feel inside my head right now. Maybe I will even include imagery of myself, inspired by the winged female figure in one of my studied Vanitas paintings by Antonio de Pereda y Salgado.