The Teahouse Fire Geisha painting was inspired by the fire of the same name that burnt very close to our house in Santa Barbara. As one person who survived the fire (but saw her house burn down) said “It was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen and yet at the same one of the most beautiful”.
For the many days these fires burned we lived in a constant hail of snow-like ashes, breathing air that hurt your lungs with each inhale, a darkened yellowish grey sky, a sun that glowed red midday and a general sense of impending doom. A reddish line of flames would constantly glide along the hills in the days and nights, spewing vast amounts of smoke into the air. At night the hills were crimson against a velvety black starless sky. We spent many hours viewing the fire with binoculars, watching it as it moved to the right, then to the left and then one terrifying evening, directly right towards us. In this painting the geisha is viewing the fire, much like one would view fireworks and at her feet an ember has fallen, signifying that the fire has gotten too close for comfort.