LIHUE – An oil painting to be unveiled on Thursday is the result of two years and countless hours of collaboration between two painters: one on O’ahu and the other on Kaua’i.
Named “East Meets West,” the piece depicts the 20-year friendship between O’ahu artist Roy Tabora and Kaua’i artist Coco Angel. It features some of their favorite things, displayed as they would be in a Hawaiian living room – orchids and a Buddha, a Diamond Head painting, and a notebook.
Tabora is a seascape painter who is familiar with oil mediums. Angel is a watercolor artist who asked her longtime friend for advice as she tried to choose oil paint 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 bit more difficult by choosing to do a still life – a type of painting that was out of the wheelhouse for both.
“Roy only paints seascapes and I paint flowers, so it’s something that is outside of our comfort zones,” Angel said.
In a statement on the painting, Tabora said he “immediately jumped” at the opportunity to work with Angel.
“You see, I’m a huge fan of her work and even more a fan of her as a dear friend,” Tabora wrote. “This two-year collaborative project has been a real labor of love.”
The project was staged on O’ahu at Tabora’s studio, and Angel flew out for work sessions for two years. Sometimes she would stay up to six nights, working 15 hours a day alongside Tabora.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve done and the coolest thing I’ve done too,” Angel said. “I remember thinking, ‘this will never be done’, and now it’s done and I can’t believe it.”
There is a big difference in technique and style between watercolor and oil painting; Angel said she thinks watercolor has higher stakes.
“Watercolor is more difficult because there is no white paint. You have to plan everything perfectly, ”Angel said. “Oil painting seems more difficult, but you can wait a day and fix whatever 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 released the title “East Meets West” it stuck.
“We couldn’t think of a better name,” said Angel.
Before the paint hit the canvas, Angle and Tabora spent hours deciding which pieces they wanted to include in the final product. They hand-picked orchids and tablecloths, shopped together, and brought important personal items to the table.
Then they started taking pictures of the scene.
“We went into his studio and set it up and it was raining,” Angel said. “Every time the sun came out, it made these cool shadows, East meeting West. After 500 photos, we take the correct one.
Tomorrow, “East Meets West” will be on display at an opening event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Tabora Gallery at the Kauai Marriott in Lihue, alongside four other oil paintings by Angel.