What is my obligation?

•November 17, 2022 • 1 Comment

As a human that works with the public in my tattooing there are often judgement calls that I need to make in regards to priority. Is it more important that I honor an appointment? Or stay home and take care of myself?

There are times when that type of choice is simple and clear cut. If I had a contagious illness, I wouldn’t come in and try to tattoo anyhow. There would be a risk to the client and it wouldn’t be worth it. But how “under the weather” do I need to be in order to take care of me?

A couple weeks ago I tanked emotionally in a much worse way than I have in a very long time. My depression started running the show. I did cancel an appointment with a good friend (with much guilt) and went out and spent some time in the woods alone. It helped tremendously (and yes, I know that time alone is not good for a lot of people that are in the midst of a depressive episode, but it works for me).

I honestly had some feelings of panic and dread (that go along with that whole nonsense) that felt pretty overwhelming but I came to work anyhow. Then I was able to take a painting workshop Friday, Saturday and Sunday which distracted me in the most perfect of ways. I got to be around other sensitive artists types, laugh, visit, make some art and learn a ton. It felt really good.

I came into my workweek still feeling a bit fragile but renewed and better.

I was blindsided by a problem client (not my client, actually the client of another artist) who has made some demands of me that I am not able to fulfill.

I wanted to run and hide. I contemplated just walking away from a 30 year career. Believing that my inability to handle humans like this is indicative of me having maxed out on the entire thing. To try to figure out how I can walk away from tattooing and spend my time at home with my kitties making art and maybe making a living out of it.

But really, I don’t want to.

Most days I really love my job. I truly love the artists that I work with. I have a client base of amazing humans who bring joy and light and laughter to my days that I would never get at home (even with the kitties). My clients bring me inspiring projects and push me to extend my repertoire and my creativity. I love tattooing. I love a good number of the humans that I tattoo. I am INCREDIBLY fortunate to be where I am in my life. I hope that I will be able to continue tattooing for a really long time.

In light of that, what is my obligation to the client with the problem? Do I put my mental health and well being on a back burner because these people want to “destroy” me on the internet? Do I bend over backwards and give up my days off for people who have made it incredibly clear that they will not be happy no matter what I do for them? Or do I tell them to fuck off (in the politest way possible) knowing full well that there will be repercussions to my business and people that I care about? While the answers to these questions seem to be obvious to people I try to talk to, they aren’t always obvious to me. There is an internal discussion/battle. How do I best protect my people? What will the client feel like? How much empathy is too much? Is this person being demanding or unreasonable? Does it matter? How much of me am I willing to give away? Where do I set my personal boundaries in relation to my business? No matter what I wind up deciding all of this internal debate takes up a lot of brain space and energy.

Simply put. I am tired.

Once upon a time in my tattoo career I got to make people happy. I made their tattoo dreams come true. They picked something off of the wall or brought me an idea and I made a tattoo for them. They left happy. Now I spend so much of my time telling people no. “That design is too small to hold up.” “That tattoo won’t have the contrast it needs.” “I can’t get you into my schedule.” “I’m sorry, I’m booked already.” “We don’t have any appointments that day.” “I won’t duplicate someone else’s tattoo.”
It’s exhausting.

I do still get to make the clients happy that I get to work with and that interaction is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I love that part.

But some days it doesn’t seem worth it anymore. The toll to my mental health and the way that clients now talk to us is too much sometimes.

How much is too much? When do I walk away? How much longer can I do this before my depression intersects with one of these clients in a way that I am not protected enough from? No one is going to take care of me but me. Today that means that I need to upset some people. People who in a very real way intend to do damage to my business if I do so. Which ultimately is going to hurt me as well, but hopefully less than giving myself away in pieces will.

dammit. I just want to make pictures. Same as I always have. How did all of this get to be so complicated?

Was Drawlloween Now Inktober – Daily Drawings for the month of October 2022

•October 31, 2022 • 1 Comment

A few years ago my sibling told me about a daily drawing project for the month of October. I looked into it and it looked like an inspirational and fun challenge for myself. I have participated every year (but one) since. At some point I became dissatisfied with the Drawlloween prompts. I think then I went to Mab’s drawlloween prompts and then eventually to Inktober.

The Inktober prompts are supposed to be done in ink. As you already know (and was reiterated recently) I have never been good at following directions.

Day 1 – Gargoyle

Day 2 – Scurry

Day 3 – Bat

Day 4 – Scallop

Day 5 – Flame

Day 6 – Bouquet

Day 7 – Trip

Day 8 – Match

Day 9 – Nest

Day 10 – Crabby

Day 11 – Eagle

Day 12 – Forget

Day 13 – Kind

Day 14 – Empty

Day 15 – Armadillo

Day 16 – Fowl

Day 17 – Salty

Day 18 – Scrape

Day 19 – Ponytail

Day 20 – Bluff

Day 21 – Bad Dog

Day 22 – Heist

Day 23 – Booger

Day 24 – Fairy

Day 25 – Tempting

Day 26 – Ego

Day 27 – Snack

Day 28 – Camping

Day 29 – uh-oh

Day 30 – Gear

Day 31 – Farm

That is all of them. Made it through the month. Learned some stuff about my drawing style and some things I would like to push towards and away from.

Tomorrow I open my books for new clients for the first half of 2023 so things will be super busy for a couple of days while I figure that out. The cold weather will be settling in a little more seriously over the next few weeks and projects will once again be focused more on indoors.

Always lots of changes going on. That is the way things are. I can roll with the changes or get rolled over by them. Looking to see how some things work out over this winter. Feels like there is a big change coming.

Thank you to everyone for your support especially those of you that reached out to tell me you are still around and like seeing me here.

Happy Halloween!

I never was very good at following directions.

•October 25, 2022 • 2 Comments

I was watching a YouTube video yesterday with art advice on it. One of the things that came up has come up lots of other places. That when presenting your work you need to be specific and focused in your presentation. If you are focusing on realistic oil paintings – that should be all that is in your portfolio. If you are a tattoo artist, not only should you only have tattoos in your portfolio, but you should focus on a specific style.


I get that. And I understand why. But I am not necessarily trying to market myself and I am not at all good at following directions. I never have been.

When I chose to market myself as “Just TeeJay” that was part of it. Not that it is just tattoos or just paintings or just sculptures. Just me. And whatever shenanigans I might get up to. When I set up my Instagram account I had put everything on there. Photos of my tattoos, my art, my figure drawing, whatever I might have been up to at the time. It went okay but really I found that the bulk of the people who were following me were there for the critters (drawings & paintings). I would lose some followers every time I posted a tattoo. A bunch if I posted a figure drawing (and WAY more if that figure happened to be male presenting). So I learned my lesson and I set up different accounts for tattoos, figure drawing, my cats & my critters that were more (ahem) adult in nature.

What a pain in the ass.

Now the algorithms don’t like me because I don’t post consistently enough to any of them. I don’t post videos (because I really hate that Instagram is trying to become TikTok).

I don’t care anymore. I am going to leave the stuff broken up on Instagram but going to leave the mad jumble of different types of art here and on my webpage. I may move completely away from posting on some of the forms.

Who knows. For the time being I am planning on using this more. As always I kind of figure that there are very few people who read this (with the notable exception of Gretchen and my Rabid Cupcake friend).

So here is a chalk bunny that I made yesterday because the weather was nice.

Thank you for being here for whatever reason that you are and walking some of my journey with me.

Yard Flamingo Project

•March 15, 2022 • Leave a Comment

I have plastic flamingos in my yard. I mean because why wouldn’t you?

I noticed they were getting a little shabby looking and brought them in for a rework.

Trey is always willing to help out.

Trey is always willing to help out with my projects.

the overspray from this made parts of my basement (including my compound miter saw) pink. only fitting I guess.
Flamingos shine even in the snow. Spring is so random here.

It’s important for me to remember that I actually finish some of my projects. Sometimes I feel like there are just SO many projects in progress/unstarted/stalled it is helpful to remember that I actually do finish a good number of them. Mostly if I start it, I will eventually accomplish it – but it may lay around in a partially finished state for a very long time.

I do finish stuff. There are just always SO many more projects that I want to start.


•March 8, 2022 • 4 Comments

When anyone in our lives experiences a loss or a tragedy we always ask ”what can I do?” or ”is there anything that you need?”. Usually the answer is that there isn’t. No matter how much we may want to, we can not take away another’s pain. Often times we shouldn’t anyhow. Grief is a natural process and normal. We often try to ”cheer” people up instead of being present for them in whatever place they are in.

That being said, when Leigh lost Al she did ask me for something. She asked me to draw their hands for her to frame and display. Of course! Here is a thing that I can do. I can help. This feels good at a time when there aren’t adequate words. Images are a thing I understand.

I immediately wanted to make this piece in silverpoint. It is the perfect fit. Silverpoint is a permanent indelible mark – but as it ages and patinas it develops a beautiful tint that can only happen with age. There is no way to erase. Once a mark has been put down it is there. You can work it into the design or start over – but you can’t remove it. Much like relationships. Once something has happened, you can deal with it and move on, but you can never make it not have happened. If things are handled carefully those mis-marks are small and infrequent.

There is probably a great quote that would explain this more articulately – but while I was working on this I was thinking that there are some loves that are so beautiful that they should never end and there are some loves that are so true that they never will. I believe Leigh and Al had that kind of love. They shared it freely with people who were and were not family. They loved. It was beautiful and admirable.

This piece took me quite a while to make as it is larger than I normally work in silverpoint… but it was more than worth the effort for a couple of loving humans who thought I was worth their effort. I’m sorry that you are no longer together in this life but take great solace in your belief that you will be together again.

Love. 💜

Figure Drawing March 7th 2022

•March 8, 2022 • Leave a Comment

It occurred to me yesterday that I may not be able to keep going to figure drawing regularly once the weather breaks. I have lots of things to take care of and do out at the land and only a little bit of time off of work. Not decided at this point one way or the other but I would imagine once it is warmer and light later I am going to need to be out there too late to make it back to the city for class. Will have to see. Maybe I can schedule things to get out there early enough that I can make it back.

The figure drawing helps my brain, but so does being out in the woods.

Time will tell.

We had a new model last night. His name is Sam.

Putting them in order of drawing this time starting out with the short poses.

30 seconds
30 seconds
One minute

One minute

Five minutes
Ten Minutes
Ten Minutes
Fifteen minutes
Ten and Fifteen minutes
Twenty Minutes. The model had taken a pose that I didn’t think they were going to be able to hold so I opted to focus on a part that wouldn’t move as much. I know you don’t normally see me focus so much time on a single body part other than a face.
Thirty Five Minutes. Foreshortening is difficult.
Twenty Minutes

Link to the YouTube TimeLapse https://youtu.be/EyQKKRnGg3E

Thank you for visiting.

Figure Drawing February 28th, 2022

•March 1, 2022 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a week!

Just got back from a week in the Carolinas visiting my family. Today is a really big day for me for reasons that I will get into in another post… but last night it was nice just to get back into my routine. A good night sleep well snuggled by kitties (who have forgiven me already and did not sleep on my head last night) followed by a day of getting cleaned up and back into routine.

So back to Figure Drawing last night. Model is Nia and I have drawn her at least once before. Good to see her again as well as all the lovely humans that I got to visit with last night.

As always images are in reverse order of how I drew them.

Nia is on Instagram as @babe_im_onfire

20 minutes – last post of the night and I never feel like I am working efficiently on the last one.
35 minutes. Nia said on her Instagram today that she forgot to put a sheet down and got mild rug burn from this pose.
20 minutes. in going through the video I feel like I lost her nose at some point in the process… it was there and then it wasn’t. oops.
15 minutes
10 minutes
10 minutes each
5 minutes each. one of the other artists remarked that they think 5 minutes is the sweet spot. Gestural and expressive without time to overwork.
1 minute poses
30 second warm ups.
Timelapse on YouTube

Lots to do to get ready for today. Hopefully be able to update you soon!!!

Everything is Different

•February 15, 2022 • 2 Comments

This post was in my draft folder from last year. I have no idea why I never posted it. So here it is anyhow. wildly out of context and season – but whatever. you can’t fire me.

Here is the original post:

May 16th (the day after my last post) I started another chalk project in my driveway.

Shortly after I began I was joined by a young neighborhood artist named Leslie and her Mom, Ruth. They added nicely to my project and it was wonderful to have company.

I worked on mine a little more:

Then I packed it in for the night and came back and added more the next day.

Another amazing addition by Leslie:

collaborative additions by Leslie and her mom:

Back to prompts…

Virtual Figure Drawing with Mia:

I didn’t have much time but the rain had washed away the previous chalking and some sadness was expressed by a neighbor that it was nice out again and there was nothing out. Time for a quick Duckie.

Virtual Figure Drawing with Cecelia.

Started another chalk project. This one got a little bigger than I had initially intended.

By this time Leslie has moved into working in her own driveway and going bigger… the neighborhood is getting more colorful.

On May 21st I participated in the Record Breaking attempt for the World’s Largest Online Art Class with #DrawWithRob

He wildly surpassed the numbers needed. I don’t know if or when it becomes official but it was fun. I was given a heads up about this event from my niece. I called my daughter. So myself, my niece, my daughter and my Granddaughters all played along with Rob’s instruction.

Then back to work on the driveway some more….

Last class with Rob Liberace.

Another drawing. I really liked this one so it did make it to RedBubble.

Then I got REALLY distracted. I was painting the walls. There has been this one area that I always suspected had an area closed off behind it. While I was painting it occurred to me that if I was ever going to smash through that wall… I should do it then before I repainted everything and made it all nice.

That’s all I am going to tell you about that project for now. It is ongoing and if I get to do everything that I want to it is going to be a SUPER amazing thing. And if not, it will be a weird little storage area. Time will tell which one happens.

I am in (another ) group on Facebook that is doing weekly drawing prompts. This one was Octopus.

Figure drawing….

Figure Drawing February 14th, 2022

•February 15, 2022 • 1 Comment

Valentine’s Day is a mixed bag. I have some happy thoughts about it but it is definitely an overly commercial date. There are things I would like to have been able to do. I would like to have some moments of feeling special or loved – but there are a lot of us that want for those things. I know that there is lots of love and support in my life even on the days where I am not feeling it or too stubborn to accept it.

So being able to go to figure drawing and laugh and visit with some good people made my day much better.
In the shop sometimes we will talk about “Saturday Energy”. When we have gotten to the end of the week and everyone is just a bit punchy but also silly and having fun. Last night’s group had Saturday Energy and I very much appreciated it.

I was therefor talking and visiting during some of the time that I could have been drawing – but no matter what as always it is good practice and I am glad that I was able to go and grateful to have this space and be allowed to participate.

Very chaotic even for 30 second poses!
Bonus 30 second pose (I thought we were starting the minute poses)
One minute poses

These drawings were done at Flower City Figure Study. Model is Mia.

If you have been here before you know that I very much enjoy drawing Mia. She is also the one who hosts these Monday night get togethers.

Thank you again Mia.

Hazy Days

•February 8, 2022 • 3 Comments

I would like to be posting my drawings from Figure Drawing last night here today. I can’t because I didn’t go. I haven’t been feeling well. Mostly physically but some mentally. Could very well be tied into the not feeling well physically but it is hard to tell.

I feel disconnected from me. Like I don’t recognize me in the mirror anymore. I mean, I know I am getting older and there are changes that come from that. It is something slightly other than that. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

A good friend of mine has been talking about having come here from one of the other parallel Universes. He has a reason why that change was necessary. He still has a very strong sense of who he is but he said that in the cross over there has been some slight discrepancies between what he remembers and what the people here remember.

It’s not that.

It’s not the world that feels off. It’s me. I feel more like someone swapped me out for someone else who is almost but not quite me more than I feel the world has changed. Perhaps like I used to be tethered in some way to something that I am not anymore.

It’s confusing. It’s fuzzy. But is also holds promise. If I am not what (or who) I was – what am I to become?

Standing at the edge of something.

I did draw yesterday. Some of the stuff I am working on is secret. Some of it is for tattoos. And some of it is just because. Here is the just because stuff from the last few days.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner….
My redraw from Monsters.Go of this drawing by Jackson

and I got my first ever book credit for a headshot (insert confused smiling emoji here). I took a photo of Ed Ashton for his book cover and they gave me credit on the hardcover liner. That is super cool and I am really happy for Ed that his book is doing so well.

He and Jen dropped off a copy that Ed signed for me so this gets to be that random story that I get to tell later about how I knew them back when (laughing emoji should go here I think).

Here’s a good place for a plug! You should go buy a copy of Ed’s book. Be one of the people who can say that they read it before the movie came out. Edward Ashton – Mickey 7

Another redraw project. The original was sent to me by a friend that would like a more traditional tattoo version of the artwork but I wanted to play with it anyhow.

I’m not sure what the original intent was with the fish hook but I liked the imagery so I included it as well.

Thank you for being here for my rambling. Thank you for being supportive when I don’t quite know what is going on.

Be patient with one another and yourselves. This Universe is still really weird.