“Sudden Death” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: Sudden Death / Acrylic on canvas

Title: Sudden Death / Acrylic on canvas

This painting was initially inspired by two random events that appeared in my local newspaper:  an explosion of a meteorite overhead in a Siberian city and a photo of a group of high school basketball players.  First, I had read the story of the streaking meteorite and how, by chance, no one was harmed. Then I saw the photo of the basketball players. When I saw the earnest looks on the faces of the basketball players, all staring upwards towards the airborne ball, I thought about how it would feel to be staring upwards at a meteorite that had appeared out of nowhere,  about to crash upon my head.

The whole notion became a metaphor of the sudden and unexpected death of young people, in the prime of their lives.  I used the basketball photo as models for the young people and changed the gender and facial features of several of the characters.  In the center of the painting, barely visible, I placed a tiny orange dot that represented the first burning ember dropping from the meteorite, as the harbinger of things to come, much like the first tiny snowflake of an approaching blizzard.  The idea of the orange dot came from a Childe Hassam painting where there is a tiny orange dot indicating the lit end of a man’s cigar.

The painting is dedicated to my nephew who was, at the start of this painting,  a healthy, robust and successful young man, about to be married.  Halfway through the painting, he was unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia.  By the time I had completed it, he  was dead. (Painted 2013)

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