COVID-19 has given me time to catch up on some long overdue commissions: Ricky, a well loved red tabby cat, and Morgan and Samson, two German Shepherds.
I first painted Morgan and Samson last year but was very unhappy with the background color. It made the shepherds coat look too washed out. After putting it aside for a long while, I redid the entire painting with a different wash and I am much happier with the result.
Frontline: Six Feet Apart is anchored into the American fabric, within a world context. I used the colors of the American flag: red, white and blue. The background is painted blue, the color of the sky and sea. Blue is also the color of the protective gear worn by Covid-19 first responders, producing a calming effect. White is associated with light, faith and safety. The color red represents oxygen rich blood, energy and love.
I textured a world map as the first layer, with the American continents front and center, showing Asia to the West (left) and Europe to the East (right). Covid-19 has no borders, no race, and no shame.
Next, I painted the lungs. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, attacking the lungs and making it impossible for the host to breathe in the worst cases. Lungs look like tree branches, and like trees, exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in reverse.
Lastly, and most importantly, I want the viewer to witness the human face behind the Covid-19 epidemic – the face behind all the protective gear. I want this painting to commemorate FRONTLINE health care workers: true American heroes.
I don’t know the name of the health care technician who collected my nasal swab at the Alameda fairground drive-through testing site. She was friendly and didn’t mind me taking her picture. I do know that I admire her resilience and her strength to confront the Covid-19 virus with a comforting smile on her face.
And, if you look very closely, she bears the weight of San Francisco on her left shoulder.