The meanings present in this work are many, from this point of view it is perhaps one of the most intense pieces I’ve done up till now. But let’s start from the beginning. The client originally wanted a tattoo that would merge with an older one on his upper back and for this purpose he had thought of a wolf at the foot of a tree, howling at the moon, with a castle on the background that would also become the background of the old tattoo. It seemed like a simple task but immediately after placing the stencil we were both disappointed with the setting and following a careful discussion we agreed to give up and think of something different. In the following days we met to discuss a woman’s face carved in the trunk of a plant. It was supposed to be his portrayal of Mother Nature but the idea did not convince me, so I suggested some links where to look for reference images. A few weeks later he sent me a very beautiful naturalistic image with a woman’s face in the foreground whose hair he wanted to turn into branches. I liked the image but he decided to think it over because he wasn’t entirely convinced. Some time later I was struck by an image on the cover of Imagine FX where there was a woman’s face surrounded by flowers. It seemed interesting and appropriate for the idea of Mother Nature the client had in mind, in fact he was impressed. A few weeks went by before he came up with the final and meaningful idea from which we have developed this work.

He had done a lot of research that led him to discover the clocks of Eric Freitas, real works of art. One of these clocks would become the fulcrum around which to develop the work. The clock represents time of course. The clock had to be surrounded by a number of meanings, the symbolic representation of which we gradually found. The peacock feathers represent vanity. The tree trunk on which rests the entire composition is a metaphor of nature and at the same time enhances the roots symbolizing belonging. The eye, that in many cultures symbolizes the door to the soul, could not but represent the latter. The clock’s hand in front of the eye, according to the client’s vision, represents the dark times in which we cannot clearly see what is happening to us. The feathers at the top represent the wings of freedom, while the butterfly wings, besides representing freedom, also symbolize rebirth. The lily is none other than his favourite flower as well as a symbol of purity. The vanilla flower belongs to the orchid family and is a symbol of sensuality. To balance the composition on the right side of the drawing I added white petals.

What can I say, small stuff hey? 😛 😀

All that was left to do was to begin drawing. As usual, I prepared the drawing in black and white, then proceeded with the colouring process sitting after sitting. This allows me to stay focused on the work I’m creating so that I don’t end up forgetting what I did for that particular work a few months later.

During the first sitting I traced baselines in gray. During the second sitting I started to colour the roots and trunk and then continued with the rest. The work was proceeding well and quickly but during the fourth sitting the client asked me to increase the contrast to the work done up till then. I usually prefer leaving the black lines and contrast to the end but at that stage it was not a big problem, so I concentrated on his request.

During the following sitting we worked on an addition instead.
The tattoo itself was very nice but on the left side, toward the back of the arm, there was an empty space that made it unbalanced and we had long thought of adding some elements in order to fill that area. His idea was to add another plant surrounding an ancient stone door, in his opinion that represented the inner search, the need to go within oneself to understand who we are, while I came up with the idea of adding light on the inside of the door. He provided me with some reference images and after a couple of hours of work on the computer to integrate the entire design composition I was ready to work freehand on him.

During the following two sittings, I concentrated on some touch-ups, on colouring the upper part (flowers and butterfly wings) and on the integration of the old tattoo. It was the client’s idea to add a black drape, just to add some more symbology. To him the black drape represents outside influences that during the course of life make us lose sight of our essence and of our desires. This goes well with the old tattoo, because the latter, that for the client represents freedom and the balance between body and spirit, looks like if it’s coming out from the veil. It’s no coincidence that the horseman is riding without reins.
Since the old tattoo was a couple years old and considering that I have definitely improved over the past few years, I suggested to spend some more time to brighten it up and make it blend with the rest. My proposal was approved.
During this last sitting he asked me to add yet another element: a tornado at the back of the arm. What shall I say, among all these symbols the only thing missing was something representing “the whirlpool of universal energy that connects and moves everything”.

The entire working process, started in July 2012 (February 2010 considering the old one) and finished in May 2013.
I’m very satisfied with the end result and I hope that it continues to be this way for a long time, even thought I perfectly know that sooner or later my constant improving will lead me to think that I could have done better 😛

Look at the images of the working process below.
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