I had a plan — go to the studio and begin the big painting that has been bouncing around in my head for the last two years. I packed up and left Chicago for Arcadia in early January 2020. When I walked through the snow to the studio and opened the door, the first thing I saw was the stretched, treated linen resting on the wall. Meanwhile, I am listening to news of the virus in China. I realize my head is not in the right place for this painting.
I find myself rearranging things in the storage area and going through my flat files in the loft. I come across some treated blue paper. I take it out and put it on top of the file. It was probably left from the “Fisherwomen” series. The next morning, when I turn on the radio, I see the flat file across the room and am struck by the blue paper. It is the color of everything worn by the nurses and doctors.
On news that evening, several first responders are describing the difficulty of the situation. They are working double shifts and running out of protective masks and gowns. There aren’t enough beds for all the sick people. I get my phone and start taking pictures of them. I look for all the blue Prisma colors I can find and start drawing their portraits. I have done portraits of soldiers from the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. They are the same eyes as the nurses and doctors — PTSD eyes.
I had a plan. My plan changed. All of our plans changed. The series will continue until I no longer see those haunting eyes on TV.
Update: Judy finished Nurses & Doctors in August 2022. The series ended with 100 portraits in total.