I recently painted this portrait of my friend, Johanna, who passed away in July 2017. The work is entitled “My Beautiful Friend JJQ.” You will notice a “Hallelujah” across her garment, which reflects her joy, and really my joy as well in saying the word. We would say it to each other often, at random moments. What a soul she was. The most beautiful of friends…quiet, loving, caring, limitless, accepting, real, non-competitive, honoring of others, unselfish.
Those are just a few of her good qualities. To help with the grief and sadness of losing her, I decided to paint her portrait this year in July 2018, on the anniversary of her passing. For reference, I had a specific photo in mind taken in 2017. This was from a lunch we had together at a Thai restaurant near the beach. There were some stunning flowers set upon the table for us to enjoy. We proceeded to tuck them behind our ears as we smiled at one another. She looked so beautiful and happy that day as we celebrated time together.
Early on, as the portrait was taking form, I was excited to get that flower in! I painted it almost immediately as it was a part of her joy. When it came down to it though, I ultimately referenced another photograph, one that reflected a happy time/memory she shared with her son on his sixth birthday.
Even though I set out with my own ideas, she seemed to influence me to play a bit when it came to creating her portrait. Sometimes I have an idea about an artwork before I begin, but I am not overly committed to it, I remain dedicated to the free form process. Allowing the painting to emerge and become what it wants to be helps to capture an essence. I am honored and grateful to have brought this portrait forth, reflecting Johanna’s joy in life and my good memories.
-For Johanna, my beautiful friend whose life was taken by cancer; she lives on in our hearts and minds and will not be forgotten.