Chris at Eternal Expression Tattoos worked very hard on making this the perfect tribute to my Dad for me. Two weeks we talked back and forth through Facebook Messenger and phone calls. Each time he sent me a copy of the change, I sent it to my brother, Bert. We would talk about it and I would have him make another change. Finally, the last big change I asked for was for him to make the butte look like the ones we took the photo in front of in Sedona instead of looking like one from Monument Valley. Even though Dad had ridded Monument Vally on his bike, I had not. The cross-country trip we took on the bikes in 2010 was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” things a person does and I got to share that with my Dad and brother. I really wanted that to be part of this tribute to my Dad. I also had sent him a photo the twin to helmet that Dad tossed while on that trip. My brother and I wanted to make sure that the helmet laying on it’s side beside his name matched that helmet. Dad had given my son, Kenny, the twin to that helmet.
After I finished my load at the Texas line and there was nothing else for me to escort at the time, I told the lady I am contracted with that I wanted Friday off so I could get the tattoo started. I stopped by the shop on my way home to take a look at the design with the changes int he buttes. (pictured above) I loved it! BUT, I asked for one more small change. Dad and I did a lot of Patriot Guard Rider missions together. Cold, heat, rain…we did more PGR missions that I can count together. Up until Dad moved back to Georgia and the PGR there was not as informative as there are here in Mississippi, Dad always had an American Flag and PGR flag on his bike. I asked Chris if he could add those flags to the bike in the design. He said he would take a look at it and let me know when I came in the next day to get it started.
I got to the shop around 1430 on Friday. Chris and I talked about the flags and he looked at several photos I have in an album on Facebook. He said that he thought he could add them and it not take away from anything else or look awkward. So he sat down and added them to the design. I was tickled that he could get them added. Dad always had an American Flag on his bike and it just added that last little bit to make it “right” for me to have both flags in the tattoo.
Chris laid the design on my arm, didn’t like that angle, took it off and relaid it. We both liked the way it was sitting on my arm and he began. I know that the upper, outside of the arm is one of the lest painful places to get a tattoo, but I was a bit anxious. Ever since shattering both of my wrists in November 2008 and having such a horrible experience at the hospital, I would get “sick” every time I did something that I knew would be physically painful. I grabbed something to eat about 1 1/2 hours before getting to the tattoo shop and on my way there I stopped to pick up a large bottle of water, a Dr Pepper and a Milkyway. I knew from getting the tattoo on my belly that the endorphins kick in and use up the sugar in your body. I had gotten a bit shaky when getting that belly tattoo and the artist had me drink a little soda and eat a candy bar. So, I was trying to make sure that I was mentally and physically prepared for this tattoo.
A few hours after Chris laid the first line, we had the outline and bloodlines/greylines done. I had never heard of laying bloodlines or greylines and asked about it. Bloodlines are used more when you are doing a piece that you don’t want to do any heavy outlines in and usually when you are doing a single session tattoo. Greylines are done in multiple session tattoos and is supposed to add a little shading. Both help in allowing the artist to get better detail in the tattoo and make it look more like a painting.
I was holding up pretty good and well over being anxious. So, we decided to start in on the shading and color. Chris did a little black shading and then asked where I wanted him to start the color. We decided to start with the most painful area of the tattoo…the part that is toward the backside of the arm. That area is more tender that the rest of it so we started in. 4 1/2 hours in to the tattoo Chris was finished with Lady Liberty and so was I for the night. After a short break, I thought about having him start in on another area since I had recovered a bit but it was only 1 1/2 till the shop closed and I was planning on riding my Harley to Arkansas to see my grandbabies the next morning, so we called it quits for the night.
I will give this about 3 to 4 weeks to totally heal and will go back to get more done. I am oping that we can get it finished in the 2nd session. I think it is turning out really good and going to be awesome when it is done.