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The Kills


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A gangly guy in his late teen years and a sweater, belts out a self-written tune in a less than crowded café. A new, single mother bakes lasagna as her first home-cooked meal for her son. A habitually insecure girl dances all night until her heels bleed in the company of complete strangers. There are those unexpected times, while testing the unfamiliar or carrying out everyday undertakings, when you can almost feel pieces of yourself leak and seep into whatever it is you’re doing. You aren’t emptied of those sections; it’s more like slices of your character being copied and pasted. You don’t realize the emotional transfer until the closing stages when you can finally appreciate the end result, as you, your passion, lock, stock and barrel.
I don’t even remember how I found that picture I fell in love with at first glance. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I had a weakness for this photo that I came across by chance. It was of a two- man band I barely knew of, called the Kills, performing at some random concert. The tapestry wines and Prussian blues of the stage lights in the night setting, shot off the page and hit me with cupid’s gun. My first thought was, “I have to paint this.” I didn’t consider the snag of, “Could I do it?” I just felt the sharp tug of needing to.
Over the course of the next two days, I did nothing but paint and eat in between school. As I worked, I slowly began ascertaining my reasons for finding this particular photograph so irresistible.
The woman in the picture is gripping the microphone with such fervor and is clearly dominant. I loved the fact that the arm that she clutched her microphone with and her thighs are anything but bony; not thick, but real. The guy beside her is standing next to and slightly behind where she’s singing, tightly holding the neck of his bass with one hand and loosely strumming with his other fingers. His stance says to me, “I support you with all I’ve got,” and “I’ll let you eat me if we ever get caught in a blizzard together.” As I neared the end, I realized that the core of what I loved about it was their eyes. Both sets harbored such unadulterated passion, it was almost unbearable. What was I even anywhere close to this passionate about, in my life? My lack of such strong ardor for anything made me sad. This right here, this is what they live for. What did I live for? Why did I wake up every morning and what put me at rest enough every night to fall asleep? What was it that pushed me through each day, or was I living just to breathe?
I got my answer as I brushed the last stroke of acrylic onto the finished canvas. This was it. At least for now, this painting right here was what I lived for. It was perfect in its white capped sea of imperfection. I had never loved an inanimate object more than I had this one right here. It was me, all me.
Through a mere replication of a photo, getting to know the people I painted instigated a yearning for passion; a passion for anything, whether it be writing, mowing the lawn or life. I will probably take The Kills with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life as a never-ending reminder of what I need; to be purely me and possess deep passion outright.
“Without passion, man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” - Henri-Frederic Amiel



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