Updated: Aug 29, 2021
My Tsunami painting began in March 2020 on a beautiful beach on Koh Phi Phi, an island in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand where I flew to visit my fiend Ja that owns Aroy Kaffien and I meet on Kauai. I had already been on this island for a month and one morning while I was sitting on a beach under the shade and drawing in my sketch book, this wave image started taking form. Mornings were my favorite time on the beach; midday is way too hot and too bright to draw in the tropics. It became my happy routine to stretch, go for a long swim before enjoying some fresh fruit for breakfast and then work on some sketches, not a bad agenda. Sometimes images and ideas come easy to me, but other times it can be like a mad writers block depending on my mood and surroundings, that's why travel is so important to me. I was not having any trouble this time around coming up with ideas, but I think my scetch was spawned from the feel of an uncertain future of an approaching pandemic and also thinking of the predicament I was in of being stuck on a tropical island. This was because my flights home to Hawaii had all been canceled more than once due to the Coronavirus. My tickets through Korea and then also Malaysia were canceled. Airlines started shutting down everywhere. Finding a airlines reprosentitive to talk by phone on this island became impossible and I was becoming more of a happy castaway by the day. I wasn't too worried, Phi Phi is even more beautiful when the crowds have all gone and I got to see more of the island with lovely Ja. I flew one visa run to Malaysia to escape the overstay fines in Thailand. It was the day before Malaysia shut all their airports down due a spread of the virus at a mosque, so I was happy to get out of there and back to the sandy beaches of Kho Phi Phi and Aroy Kaffiene (Jaruwan’s Cafe).
So sitting in the shade with sketch book in hand with feelings between the need to leave, can’t leave and not really wanting to leave, I started to imagine a time these islands where swept away by another massive disaster and considered how lucky I am. These calm, pristine shores where the only waves whisper to the sand are created by a passing Long Tail Boat or ferry were once disturbed by a 9.1 earthquake which unleashed an enormous Tsunami, not just towards Koh Phi Phi but many other countries and taking 227,898 lives.
On Dec 26, 2004 early morning Koh Phi Phi was hit from two directions. The island has a main tourist destination town that is built on a sandy isthmus with two beaches on ether side of it. The tsunami waves came without warning from both sides devastating the small town and washing many people out to sea. After the turmoil had passed around 850 people had lost their lives here and 1200 people were missing.
The Original Sketch
After being stuck an extra month on this beautiful island I managed to catch the last Hawaiian Airlines plane out of Japan before they stopped flying all their international flights. It was really strange to walk through Haneda International airport completely empty. Relieved, finally at home on Kauai, but sad too to leave a new found paradice. I instantly quarantined myself for two weeks and started to create this painting from my sketch. Here are images of the work in process that took over a month to create. Enjoy.
Tsunami, 12.75"x37.75"x3" 22k Gold, Oil Paint, Cotton Bristol, 10 layers of art, 17 layers of Deep Resin, Koa wood on reinforced box frame.