Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Michelangelo, my kids, and me

Since my Renaissance Art History class back in my college years, I have loved the work and ideals of Michelangelo. When Dr. Putney started showing us slides of his work in the museum’s Little Theatre/lecture hall my heart leapt and my imagination soared. The majesty of the Sistine Chapel is incomprehensible at times, and some day, I hope to see it in person with my own two eyes instead of pictures in a book on the web. This three decade love affair has included reading everything I can on the Master and it was while I was reading a book on him that I discovered his alleged last words: Ancora Imparo, or, “Still, I learn.” Great words from a great man, although, I believe my last words would probably be: “Fire this doctor NOW!”

I decided before we had kids that I wanted those words tattooed on me some day, so I began playing with the words and the fonts. I printed it out a million different ways and taped them on to every conceivable place on my person. I thought it was a pretty nifty tattoo idea, as I had never seen it before. We were in Chicago a few months later and Tod comes up to me at a garden center/gift shop and takes me over to see the tattoo of the girl behind the counter. She had a sleeveless top on and coming out from the straps on the back of the garment were what I thought were MY words.

DAMMIT Chi-town Hipster Chick, you beat me to it!

After I calmed down and my desire to kill subsided, I started looking at how she presented her tattoo and realized that we had two completely different concepts of how to ink this on our persons. She was a design major (natch) and was in love with the Vivaldi font and its flowing lines. I didn’t care so much about the font as I did the meaning behind the words so I soldiered on with my idea, but tabled it for a few years.

Flash forward to 2005 and we are new dads and the new little one in my life was presenting me with challenges each and every day. As we went through with Tod’s adoption, he got her footprints turned into a stylized heart on his chest with her name above it. I decided that since I was an artist and used my hands for a living, I would go with her hand print. So one night we inked her up and the two of us struggled to get her ink covered mitt onto a piece of paper in my sketchbook. I wish we would have filmed it, it was pretty funny. I worked with our amazing tattoo guy and we centered the hand above the words of Michelangelo, a fitting touch to my new role as parent. It was tattooed at the base of my neck (see above). Depending on what kind of shirt I am wearing, the tattoo is pretty much invisible except for the tips of Anna’s hand poking out above the collar line. Five years later, I am adding Eli’s hand print below the words, pointing down my back. His hand is much larger than Anna’s 10 month old hand, but it will be a marker for how old he was when he came to live with us.

Each day does present its challenges, and each day I continue to learn and grow, hopefully until the day I die.