Thoughts: Tattoos and Thankfulness


Last Saturday I had a booth at “Art on Edie’s Green” in Pawlet, Vermont. It is the only outdoor show I do with my art, preferring to sell at galleries and on-line. I do it because it’s a community thing. Most of the artists live kind of locally, and each of us give 20% of our sales to the Pawlet Scholarship fund, a group that provides twenty or so scholarships each year to local people furthering their education.

I don’t find outdoor shows that much fun to do, but I like this one. It is large enough to provide a nice variety of arts and crafts, but small enough that all of us showing art can wander around, enjoy each other’s work and just chat. I never sell that many pieces, but I sell a few and have a good time and get to give something back to the community. It makes for a fun Saturday.

This year I sold three pieces and gave away one.

“Gave?” you ask. Yes, gave.

Like I said, we all wander around and enjoy each other’s stuff. At one point, one of my friend’s daughters came by and was flipping through some of my unframed pieces. She kept going back to one particular piece, which as it happens, is also one of my favorites.

The sky is falling

She left the booth and came back a second time. She asked me how much it was.

Now, when a young person wants to know how much something is, they really like it. it is particularly true of this young woman, because her mom is an artist. She knows the work of art, and she knows what we have to charge to make it all work. So even a dense old man like me could see she liked it.

I gave it to her.

You see, I want young people to love art. To be surrounded by it. To appreciate it. As it turned out, the colors also matched her room. What more could you ask?

But she was not content with being given the art. She asked me what she could do or give me, and I suggested she do a piece of art for me. I have no idea what I expected, but I have seen her doing things at art shows and at her mom’s studio. I knew whatever she did, I’d enjoy.

What I got was a temporary, painted on tattoo. Yeah, the one at the top of this page. We came up with the idea of the compass rose and right there on the spot with her pens, she drew it in, all freehand. A compass is perfect because I, like most of us, am always trying to find my way in life, trying to keep my bearings and path straight. A compass is a perfect symbol of that.

“It will wash off in a couple of days.” she assured me.

As good as the tattoo was, I was glad of that. I’m not a huge tattoo fan, although I have to say I have become a big fan of my son’s tattoo. It’s just not for me. I like skin and I think the human body is wonderful enough that we don’t need to add anything to it.

But I need to tell you, this thing’s grown on me. I have been careful with it. I haven’t scrubbed it hard in the tub each night. But true to her word, the thing has been slowly fading. There’s only a shadow of it left. Tonight’s bath, or maybe tomorrows will pretty much finish it off. And I think I am going to miss it.

I’ll miss it’s symbolism, for sure. But what I will really miss it the reminder that there are still people, and still young people, who don’t want something for nothing. They want to return good for good. It’s how I raised my kids and perhaps how you raised yours, but we all know that often the best raising still gets pretty poor results, and that people of all ages are more than willing to take something for nothing. Anxious too in fact. The whole “a sucker’s born every minute.” thing. I know, I’ve been that sucker more than a few times. But not Saturday. I left Saturday rich.

How did I come out at the show? I sold three small paintings. Not a bad day. And I gave away one that paid me in a joy the money from the other paintings will never match, and left me pretty thankful indeed. A good day. A very good day.

Be well. Travel wisely,


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