By Nick Baxter
Here’s a process sequence for a tiny diptych painting I did a few months ago related to the recurring theme in my work of healing wounds.
This tiny little pair will be included in the forthcoming art catalogue Pint Size Paintings Volume 2, which compiles these small paintings completed by members of the worldwide tattoo community, and features them in a traveling art show.
I wrote about the Tibetan Buddhist symbolism surrounding my use of the hook symbol last year, after completing Shenpa I (which now resides in the collection of the amazing and prolific figurative painter Shawn Barber!).
By Nick Baxter
Here’s a recent piece I completed for submission to an upcoming charity art exhibit at The Egan Gallery in Fullerton, California, curated by friend and fellow artist Cody Raiza who is a passionate animal welfare activist.
By Nick Baxter
In a delightful twist of fate last week, an email appeared on my computer screen (via my subscription to the Core Integral newsletter) that advanced and expanded the concepts I attempted to shed light on with my last blog post, about what art is and how to use it as an effective communication. So, in an impromptu Part 1.5 of my ongoing inquiry, here is the text of that newsletter with a link to the lecture it refers to, followed by a brief review of its major concepts.
“Think of a piece of art that you are particularly struck by. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a painting, a piece of music, a film, or any other expression of beauty that you find yourself impressed with or inspired by. Visualize the piece in your mind’s eye—or, if you like, open a new tab in your web browser and Google it, so it’s right in front of you. As you admire your preferred object of beauty, ask yourself a simple question: how can I tell what this means? How do you answer?
By Nick Baxter
“If a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”
This is the kind of existential crisis I circumnavigate when considering (read: having anxiety about) the effectiveness of my paintings and the symbolism I choose to communicate with. Am I effectively expressing my intended meaning? And is my intended meaning aligning with the viewer’s perceived meaning? Does it even matter?
It can be argued that what makes something art is the group participatory act; it almost always requires someone other than its creator to see it. Art is, in general terms, a unit of cultural information that is put forth by participant A, and taken in by participant B. Hence, a communication. Always. A message is always put out, whether the artist intends to or not. This visual communication is even more fundamental than our ever-present and taken for granted verbal communication. At its most primal level, visual art certainly is more direct–it’s sub-verbal, it requires no complicating exchange of written or oral language.
Mike Rubendall: Before I was physically active and aware of what being in good health was, I had major back and neck pain. It seems to be a common problem amongst tattooers due to poor posture and long hours of tattooing throughout the years.
Have you had to see a doctor, chiropractor, masseuse therapist, acupuncturist or anything similar because of problems or because you want to avoid them?
I would regularly see a massage and physical therapist. They have been helpful for me for the most part. However, I feel maintaining a healthy diet and exercise is a more effective method to avoid any type of chronic pain caused by tattooing… (more…)
Get ready, the Paradise Tattoo Gathering is this week!
Tattooers, apprentices, collectors and the curious have been registering for the Paradise Tattoo Gathering which is coming up September 13-16 in Keystone Colorado. Hotel rooms and Condos are being booked, and seminar registrations are coming in every day. Jeff Gogue’s seminar only has 15 spaces left out of 100, so don’t snooze on registering!
This years lineup is truly amazing: Tattooing, workshops, seminars and live painting are being led by the likes of Bob Tyrrell, Adrian Lee, Tommy Lee, Nick Baxter, Jeff Gogue, Tom Strom, Chet Zar, Damon Conklin, Nikko Hurtado, Alex De Pase, Big Gus, Shawn Barber, Jo Harrison, BJ Betts, Megan Hoogland, Cory Ferguson, Seth Ciferri, James Kern, Jason Kundell and many, many more. We hope to see you there! (more…)
So what would our society look like if everyone wholeheartedly explored their personal limits, found their edges, played with them, gracefully forgave themselves for inevitable shortcomings and learned to remain steadfast in that shaky, uncertain, sometimes excruciating inner territory? My guess is that the resulting paradigm shift would have vastly positive effects on both the collective and personal levels… (more…)
Living with these concepts begins to have another, more subtle transformative effect: you begin to embrace doing things now for the benefits you’ll reap later, like an expert chess player who thinks 5 moves in advance. Lifting weights once doesn’t guarantee an Olympian’s physique, nor does one meditation session result in total liberation of the mind. But small daily challenges and rational, calculated risks, repeated over a long enough span of time, help cultivate patience and an unshakable trust in yourself that helps you stay focused on your larger goals… (more…)
One important distinction becomes apparent sometime after embarking on a personal challenge program: that you are suddenly at odds with the prevailing cultural attitude of convenience and pleasure craving. Someone obsessed with meeting and mastering challenges easily develops a counterintuitive yet healthy relationship to discomfort. The uneasiness of this feeling becomes a signpost letting you know you’re following the correct path, rather than a warning sign to turn around or shut down. Suffering (in appropriate amounts) becomes a valuable commodity, a friendly companion in a sometimes-lonely quest for betterment… (more…)
A great way to picture all of this visually is to represent yourself or any person as a circle. Since a circle has no beginning or end, and no corners, openings or angles, it’s perfect for representing the psychological concepts of wholeness and growth… (more…)
The Path Of Resistance
Another way of explaining this practice is through the concept of physical resistance. All weight training, bodybuilding, and other fitness modalities are built upon this one inescapable law of physics. For example, a person’s muscles may reach failure and soreness after their first attempt at lifting a designated amount of weight. After the proper sequences of rest and further attempts are followed, the 20th attempt at lifting this same amount of weight may feel effortless, and the weight must then be increased so that the muscles can be challenged to grow stronger once more. In essence, if you undertake some type of challenge enough times in a controlled manner, the task will eventually become easier. Apply the weight resistance metaphor to anything difficult you’ve worked on in your life, and you’ll quickly see a correlation… (more…)
Introduction: The Terrain
Imagine walking a tightrope stretched high above the ground, a wire so taught and thin that to slip to either side would result in certain injury, like traversing the edge of a razor. Behind you lies the wreckage of your former limitations—no turning back! On the horizon awaits the realization of all your life’s goals and dreams. To either side, nihilism and oblivion. Slowly, surely, forward is the way… the only way… (more…)
Petri Aspvik: What type of physical problems have you encountered due to tattooing?
Nick Baxter: Obviously tattooing can put strain on your fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, neck, spine and lower back. In broader terms, all of these body parts are connected, like a series of stops on a train. The physical action of sitting and extending your arms, making small, repetitive hand motions over long periods of time puts stress on the body that just goes down the continuous line of interconnected body parts. I deal with pain, strain, and discomfort in all of these areas on a regular basis… (more…)
By Chet Zar
I only discovered the tattoo community about 3 years ago when I was invited by tattoo artist Jon Lane to paint live at 2009′s Visionary Tattoo Art Festival. I was impressed from the start. Not only were these artists creating truly cutting edge art work on skin (conceptually, tattooing blows every other artistic statement out of the water, in my opinion), they were also painting as good as or better than a lot of well known contemporary painters I’ve seen. I was truly blown away at the variety of styles, techniques and ideas and wondered why I wasn’t seeing a lot of this stuff at the galleries I was showing at and going to, especially when a lot of the artists were expressing interest in showing at these galleries… (more…)
Nick Baxter’s technically demanding painting style dwells somewhere in between traditional sharp-focus still life and modern photorealist styles, while bringing in elements of symbolism and surrealism. His subject matter tends to center around close-ups of skin and visceral, bloody macro-scapes, in exploration of what it means to be human- to have a unique consciousness inhabiting a vessel of flesh and blood… (more…)
By Nick Baxter
After recently finishing my newest series of paintings for my show in May/June at Last Rites Gallery, I had a chance to revisit an experimental painting I’d started this past summer while attending a workshop by my friend Jeff Gogué, a phenomenal painter and tattoo artist in Grant’s Pass, OR… (more…)
By Nick Baxter
I’ve always been just as in love with photography as I am with painting. Because I paint in a highly realistic style, they’re two disciplines that go hand in hand in supporting my overall aesthetic and conceptual goals.
Photography is arguably the most convincing lie of the visual arts. It intersects with cultural conditioning and social norms in a way that I find intriguing and inspiring. What I mean is, as 20th and 21st Century human beings, we’ve been more or less culturally and socially trained to accept the photograph as a factual–even scientific–representation of physical reality, due to its ubiquitous use and massive omnipresence throughout our entire lives. This belief, which can approach the level of faith, presents an irresistible opportunity for manipulation of perception by illusionists and countercultural provocateurs such as myself… (more…)
While reading Becoming Animal, a beautiful treatise on the sensual interaction between humans and the perceptual world around us written by David Abram, I came across a startling bit of truth that resonated with my visual artist’s mindset… (more…)
Some may recall my enthusiastic blog report last fall on the Paradise Tattoo Gathering… Well, I’m gonna do it again! The World Wide Tattoo Conference, brainchild of Italian tattoo artist Alex De Pase and co-hosted by Gabe Ripley and TattooNOW.com, is a new first in the tattoo world; a two-day seminar event for professional tattooers, boasting lectures from six highly respected and influential global artists. More than 200 tattoo artists from around the globe travelled to St. Charles, Illinois to attend this specialized tattoo conference… (more…)
Here’s the evolution of the painting I began at my parents’ house during a recent visit. The phases of development you see here represent approximate divisions into layers, i.e. major progress stages of the painting (click on the image below to make it larger). In actuality, there were a few more partial layers and back-and-forth adjustments made to various areas of the piece which are not shown here, as they didn’t constitute major turning points… (more…)
By Nick Baxter
“Live without dead time!” One of the slogans, courtesy of the Situationists, that I try to live by. To me it means making productive, efficient, and enjoyable use of one’s short time on this earth. I find it easy to embody this ethic at home in the familiar environment of the studio, where steady progress is made on paintings and other projects. But it can be tough to halt progress and pull away in order to travel, and even tougher to get back into that same productive, creative sweet spot after returning…
By Nick Baxter
The dawning of 2012 brought me to my parents’ house, an eclectic vortex of saved childhood possessions and weird emotional frequencies densely packed into a many-acred patch of wilderness falling off the eastern edge of the North American continent… (more…)
By Gabe Ripley
Guy Aitchison Seminar: “The Extra Mile Is Never Crowded- A Few Extra Things You Can Do To Make Your Work Stand Out” Included as part of the Worldwide Tattoo Conference educational program, $800 for 6 2-hour classes (see event description for more information). Free ticket giveaway: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dENTeUV2QTJfdE1VMXBOMWo0S1JOclE6MQ (more…)
By Gabe Ripley
To have a chance to win a free ticket to the World Wide Tattoo Conference, please click the link below and fill out form. Winners will be chosen at the start of next week: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dENTeUV2QTJfdE1VMXBOMWo0S1JOclE6MQ
Six of the world’s most famous tattoo artists will gather together in the Chicago area to share their expertise and experiences. Two days of full immersion into the secrets that made Guy Aitchison, Jeff Gogue, Nick Baxter, Boris, Bob Tyrrell and Alex De Pase very popular and successful. The program includes a series of highly integrated core seminars and lectures that provide attendees with a great opportunity to learn more about the technical skills, tips and tricks and suggestions that can make you a better tattooist. Every artist will explain his unique artistic approach to body art and show his own peculiar vision on the tattoo world. (more…)