Recently, a friend, was pondering over my painting of Anna Nichole, and she rattled a few questions: What was your initial reaction upon learning of her death, and why did you paint her the same day of the news, and why her, as so many famous people die all the time?
Well, I heard about Anna Nicole Smith’s death on television, February 8, 2007, six years ago, while watching the news. As you can imagine, I knew that it was a significant event because she was an icon, much like Marilyn Monroe. Even though she was embroiled in a lot of controversy, I still admired her tenacity, especially because she came from humble beginnings. So, my initial reaction was sadness, disbelief, and inspiration. Yes, many people die every day, celebrities and such, but I felt that this moment would be good to capture in canvas. I had a large canvas already stretched, and right after dinner I began to paint. One thing that I wanted to avoid, in due respect to her fresh passing, was NOT to focus on her sexuality. I did not want to paint her in the provocative poses she was famous for. Instead I wanted to focus on Anna Nicole, the person, who even though was surrounded by money and fame, she was truly a person filled with confusion and sadness. And that’s what I wanted to capture. Her expression says it all. She has always been portrayed as sexy, showing a lot of her feminine figure, laughing, but that’s not what was lying underneath. The green color around her symbolizes the “money” she was surrounded with, and the lose weaving of colors, especially black, represented the chaos that she was going through, the tangled web of accusations, the dark people that surrounded her, the way the media portrayed her.
I did not begin with the idea of creating a memorial painting of her. Fact is, I painted her with no purpose whatsoever. That is the reason why it has never been exhibited, other than a hair design salon in Colleyville, and not put up for sale. Now that time has passed, I believe that it needs to find a home, a good venue that will present this as a true remembrance of Anna Nicole, the beautiful starlet. The chaos and money is subjective. Not every person will capture that idea, but to me, it was ever present, and it was much more so before her death.
I painted really late into the night, that evening, listening to nostalgic music and hearing more reports about her death. The painting was not based on any one single photograph, but rather an impression of many that I saw. I completed the painting that same night, or rather, morning, at 6 a.m. I must admit, that at times I was overwhelmed by emotion, pretty much the same way it happened while I painted Selena after her untimely death. When someone young dies without a reason, it just fills my heart with sadness, and a bit of emptiness. It’s feels like a candle has been extinguished before its time.