Seven years ago, I came across a man from England who was looking for any work, and he said he was willing to model for a painting.  I sat him down in my studio, which was very dark, and began to paint. At first he was holding a newspaper, but I didn’t like the feel of that. So, I put a cup of tea in his hands.  I poured the boiling water into the cup, and he stared at the steam.  He sat upright, stiff, which somehow offset the gentle grasp of the cup.

A while into the painting, I was playing a beautiful, old ballad on the CD player, a song called “The Hands are Cold.”  The fellow began to cry as he posed for the painting, and called out “Please change the song!”  I felt so bad, I was very jarred by this, and I quickly changed it.  He wiped his tears away, apologized, and told me that he had just left England to start over, because his wife had just passed away after a long battle with cancer.  From that point forward in the painting, he spoke of her often.

This painting is one of those rare sales, in which a patron stopped by my studio, and bought the painting off the easel.  The buyer actually came to see another painting, a lighthearted one, but instead connected to this piece.  I finished the painting up, and delivered it to him.  And the other day, I stopped by the owner’s home, and saw this painting hanging.  It had been a few years since I had taken a close look at it.

I’m not at all interested in painting pain for the sake of painting pain. I’m interested in painting life; sometimes, life is painful.

hands with tea