Creating A Tsunami In Paradise

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.


     The last few months have been a testing time for everyone with daily news of the Coronavirus epidemic causing anxiety but there have been a lot of people coming up with some really amazing creative works of music, art, or humor.  We have all dived deeper into our creative selves, hoping to keep sane and not going isolation bat crazy.

My new painting began in last March 2020 on a beautiful beach on Koh Phi Phi, an island in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. I had already been on this island for a month and one morning while I was sitting on a beach under the shade drawing in my sketch book this image was taking shape. Mornings are my favorite beach time; midday is way too hot and too bright to draw. It became a habit to do my stretches and go for a long swim before enjoying some fresh fruit, then sketching. As I sat there trying to come up with a sketch and also thinking of the jam I was in, because my flights home to Hawaii had all been canceled more than once due to the Coronavirus. First my tickets through Korea canceled, then tickets through Malaysia canceled. Airlines started shutting down everywhere and I was becoming more and more stuck. I flew one visa run to Malaysia and to escape the overstay fines in Thailand. It was the day before Malaysia shut its whole airport down because of the virus spreading at a mosque, so I was happy to get out of there and back to the sandy beaches and Aroy Kaffiene (Jaruwan’s Cafe).

Feeling stressed 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 only waves whisper to the sand  created by Long Tail Boats or ferry boats passing were disturbed by a 9.1 earthquake which unleashed an enormous tsunami towards Koh Phi Phi. 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 and 1200 people were missing.

It is very humbling to imagine the suffering that had happened here and realizing I was on sacred ground.  There are a few places on Hawaii I feel the same like a deep scare under the beauty.  I was alone on the beach, as most of the tourists had long gone home in a mad rush to catch a plane out of Asia. I could feel the approach of another destructive wave, that is swept across the globe unseen and left many bodies in its wake. Like a Tsunami the coronavirus was spreading from one country to another. The wave sketch took place in-between glancing up now and again to see a large 2 foot long lizard walking the beach, the odd Long Tail Boat blasting by and the sound of exotic birds singing. I envisioned a menacing prehistoric sea with towering gray blue waves moving slowly like mountains with dark valley troughs.

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 international flights. It was really strange to walk through Haneda International airport completely empty. Relieved, finally at home on Kauai I instantly quarantined myself for two weeks and started to create the painting from my sketch. Here are images of the work in process that took over a month to create.


Troy Carney

7th resin pour over 4 pieces of the art