LIHUE — An oil painting set to be unveiled Thursday is the product two years and countless hours of collaboration between two painters: one on O’ahu and one on Kaua‘i.
Named “East Meets West”, the piece represents the 20-year friendship of O‘ahu-based artist Roy Tabora and Kaua‘i-based artist Coco Angel. It features some of their favorite things, displayed as they would be in a Hawai‘i living room — orchids and a Buddha, a painting of Diamond Head and a notebook.
Tabora is a seascape painter who is well versed in oil mediums. Angel is a watercolor artist who asked her longtime friend for some pointers as she tried to pick up oil painting as a new medium.
In a ‘learn by doing’ approach, Tabora and Angel decided to create “East Meets West”. The pair made the project a little more challenging by choosing to do a still life — a type of painting that was out of the wheelhouse for both of them.
“Roy only paints seascapes and I paint flowers, so it’s something out of our comfort zones,” Angel said.
In a statement about the painting Tabora said he “immediately jumped” on the opportunity to work with Angel.
“You see, I’m a big fan of her work and an even bigger fan of her as a dear friend,” Tabora wrote. “This two year collaboration project was a true labor of love.”
The project was staged on O‘ahu at Tabora’s studio, and Angel flew over for work sessions over the course of two years. Sometimes she’d stay as long as six nights, working 15-hour days alongside Tabora.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve done and the coolest thing I’ve done, too,” Angel said. “I remember thinking: ‘it’ll never be done’, and now it’s done and I can’t believe it.”
There is a vast difference in technique and style between watercolor and oil painting; Angel said she thinks watercolor comes with higher stakes.
“Watercolor is harder because there’s no white paint. You have to plan everything perfectly,” Angel said. “Oil painting seems harder, but you can wait a day and fix anything you mess up.”
Initially, the two artists were going to name the painting “Hybrid”, because it was a combination of two personalities, but when Tabora floated the “East Meets West” title, it stuck.
“We couldn’t think of a better name,” Angel said.
Before any paint touched the canvas, Angle and Tabora spent hours deciding which pieces they wanted to be included in the final product. They handpicked orchids and tablecloths, shopped together and brought personal items of significance to the table.
Then they started shooting photos of the scene.
“We went to his studio and set up the thing and it was raining,” Angel said. “Every time the sun came out it made these cool shadows, the East meeting the West. After 500 photos we go the right one.”
Tomorrow, “East Meets West” will be on display during an opening event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Tabora Gallery at Kauai Marriott in Lihue, alongside four more oil paintings done by Angel.