This man pictured above is a brilliant artist, husband, father, and kind soul. I had the privilege of meeting David Hale a few years ago, shortly after I relocated to Athens from Portland, Oregon. He did a beautiful cover up of a tattoo on my foot, and since then I have followed his work as it exploded across the internet and the world. He's a special kind of person; the popularity hasn't seemed to affect him, other than making the choice to literally stop taking appointments and instead using a newsletter system with Gratitude Designs -- prospective clients can pick from them to enter the lottery. He chooses one client for each design, and the design will never be used on anyone other than that client. He uses a donation system when accepting payment and donates a percentage of each tattoo and art sale to hand-picked charities. Included with his newsletter, every letter, are words of thankfulness, gratitude, connectedness to the natural world, thoughtful self-examination, and hope. He welcomed me into the studio and I spent some time with him and his apprentice, Evan Morgan, and he tattooed a beautiful swallow on my right shoulder. You can see the drawing of it taped to his lamp, the third photograph from the bottom. Read more about David's work at davidhale.org and his tattoo studio, Love Hawk Studio, at lovehawk.com, where you can also sign up for his newsletter.
This tattoo carries so much significance for me. It's a reminder of the softening of my heart and the strengthening of my soul. This came after a very difficult time; actually, almost fourteen years of difficulty, with a three or four year rest that passed shortly after the move to Athens. I feel, in many ways, that I am entering into rest and abundance. I wrote about why my first three years in Athens were difficult in Issue A of Alphabet Family Journal, and the title of the piece is Abundance. Interestingly, and fittingly, the editors chose this title for my four page spread containing 500 words and a handful of photographs, showing a gathering with my friends. In one photograph, Larken, as a baby, is being held by Zelda, who would eventually introduce me to John, my husband. The hard exterior, defensive spirit, and basically survival-mode mentality that I carried as a single mother has given way to hope, joy, and, there seems to be no better way to say this, softening.
I've written a bit about taking a new direction with my work, and while the studio concept is on hold for a time, I have been building something new and fresh, along with a lovely friend and artist, Eve Nettles. Every Thursday we meet, discuss different visual movements, gather materials, and begin. She composes and designs, I photograph. This work has brought me so much joy, and a feeling of satisfaction -- beauty created and unfolding as we work. We are in the process of building our website, where you'll be able to see each series of installations photographed, and also purchase as prints. Eve is participating in a gallery opening this Friday evening, and I'll be present with my camera to photograph some of her work on display. We'll also be handing out a few small prints with information hand written on the back, including the name of this project and our site's address. If you live in the Athens area, please join these artists in the Plaza & Bridge galleries of UGA's Lamar Dodd school of art. For those that are interested but won't be able to attend the event, I'll post a few of our pieces and more information on my site's journal sometime next week. So many aspects of this work reflect the softness that I mentioned above.
Our family has been finding our way through a very busy time with regards to John's and my work, but through all of this we have found comfort in the company of dear friends and have loved seeing those friendships deepen and grow. We have been enjoying the girls so much; they're both so sweet and hilarious. With regard to work, the deadline for many months spent investing in Barb Blair's second book is nearing. Though there is pressure and so much to be done, the entire experiencing of working with Barb and the other members of our team, Angie, Jessica, and Julie, has been wonderful and enriching. I can't wait to see that book in print; the publisher is Chronicle and it will be out in early 2015. I don't think I am allowed to say anything other than that. You can read more about Barb and what she does at knackstudios.com. I have learned so much from watching her balance work and family life, while constantly supporting those around her and having a light-hearted spirit. She is truly a wise woman and I am honored to be her photographer for this book. I have only a handful of weddings left, and have some other smaller projects in process, but overall I see the light of more rest, less stress, more time together at the end of the tunnel. It has been really encouraging to see my work featured in some major places recently: Domino, The Huffington Post, and Minted, thanks to my sweet friend Emily Jeffords, and Bon Appétit (here and here) and in a German book about knives called Messer by publisher Tuebner, thanks to my people Bloodroot Blades, who are some of my favorite human beings. Their work continues to gain recognition and much like David Hale, the popularity hasn't changed them in any way. It has been so good to watch them grow and receive well-deserved exposure.
Back soon with more information on my work with Eve and also a handful of pieces to view.