Tara in Red, In Progress & Thoughts

June 1, 2021

I lost a friend of mine, Tara Krehbiel, to cancer last year. You may remember Tara from her work she did with me on the Artist Series Calendar. She was a fantastic art friend with a lot of shared interests as me.

Tara and I met at my former job at the bank. She was filling in and helping from another branch for a week or two. We got to talking, and though she was quiet and kept to herself at first, it turned out we had a lot of shared interested. We both loved art! We both snowboard! We both love the same type of music! She had even been a model at my former college, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, as well. And we talked about that too. After Tara’s time was up helping at the branch, we stayed in touch via the work email system, traded numbers, and got together on social media. From there we exchanged plenty, including memes and videos. We got to enjoy art and concerts together; Tara and I stared at weird shoes when there was a shoe exhibit at the Currier, and got to enjoy a terrifying, hellish Uber ride on our way to a First Friday in Boston. We enjoyed a meal at my father’s restaurant when it first opened up, and saw Prophets of Rage together. One of the last things Tara and I enjoyed together was Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room exhibit “Love Is Calling” at the Boston ICA.

Tara was a fantastic alla prima painter. Her paint of choice was oil, and she worked very thick. Some of the works I will share with you were acrylic, but she worked oils when possible too.

Tara also has a wonderful permanent sketchbook up at The Sketchbook Project that you can check out digitally.

Tara succumbed to cancer right when the Covid-19 pandemic started gripping the United States. I had canceled a time to hang out with her as I had been with my boss at an in-person meeting with a client a few days earlier, and my boss’ roommate went to get tested for Covid-19 thinking that they had it. Not knowing if I was infectious, I explained to her that I didn’t want to shorten her already short time left here. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get to reschedule with her. I did get the chance to tell her that I loved her. At the least, she knew she was loved by me, as she was by many people.

A work for her

Tara and I really loved this one painting at the Currier museum in Manchester, NH. It was called “The Letter” and it was painted by Emile Meyer. The individuals depicted in the painting were painted with a cadmium red oil paint that really cannot be photographed — it’s so bright, even for a painting created in 1895. The details are incredibly immaculate — the painting is actually quite small in person. We always gushed to each other about the details, and that red.

I wanted to do something in memory of Tara. So I set out to depicting her in a similar painting…

I had intended to have it ready for her memorial service, which was in August. But, of course, life gets in the way, Covid-19 happened, and getting everything just right took much longer than I thought. It almost took me a full year to complete.

Finally, after months of work, I completed her and gave her a coat of varnish. I’m not a great photographer, especially when it comes to my paintings, but I’m happy to have a photo to share with you.

A woman in a red dress reading a letter
“Tara in Red”, oil on canvas, 2021

Tara’s painting is heading to her mother, Cheryl. I hope she likes it — it was the least I could do in Tara’s memory.

Aimee Cozza is a freelance illustrator out of Southern New Hampshire. She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Since then, she has been working in a variety of ways completing various illustrations for clients, friends, and for herself.

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