top of page

You are a Canvas

I have one tattoo. I got it when I was turning thirty and moving from a big city to the southwest. Big cat paws to remind myself I was I was a wild creature who was finding her place in a wild land. I love my tattoo, even though I forget about it for months at a time. The idea of using the body as canvas is so intriguing. It falls into the same category for me as site-specific theatre: works of art take on exceptional meaning when placed in unusual spaces.

There is a long history of tattoos, of course, and they have become hipper than hip in the past few decades. (Are they passé by now?) But the idea of creating art on skin is still tantalizingly new and exciting when removed from current cultural context. I am brought back to the beauty of Peter Greenaway's The Pillow Book in which writing on skin was the center of the film. This (very adult, erotic, not for kids) film went far beyond tattoo art to see the body as a multi-dimensional, living canvas.

I'm not asking you to do anything like what is in the The Pillow Book. I do, however, want you to consider your skin as your blank canvas today. Today's activity may seem strange, but it most likely will get you out of your comfort zone. And that always provides pathways to creativity.


Find a non-toxic ink source to use. This can be a marker, or paints, or pen, but make sure you are not using anything permanent or toxic.

Choose a part of your body to use as your canvas. (Tip: If you have a Zoom call in an hour, don't use your face.)

Create! Draw a creature, or a landscape, or write a favorite phrase. Make your illustration tiny, or paint an entire leg. It's up to you. Notice how you feel. Free? Bored? Naughty? It is hard to draw on yourself, or do you have trouble finding space amongst your tattoos? What does this activity bring up for you? What ideas come up?

Grab your journal if you have one and write any ideas, thoughts, images, feelings, or questions that came up for you.

23 views0 comments
bottom of page