Painters David Lobenberg and Ibe Ananaba share their stories of connecting through portraiture and online friendship.
Painting Across Continents
In the sometimes overwhelming, detached world of social media, making a real connection can — perhaps ironically — seem diﬃcult. And yet, Pinterest and Facebook were the vehicles through which David Lobenberg (of Sacramento, California) was connected with Ibe Ananaba (Lagos, Nigeria), and a genuine, international friendship was born.
“Ibe suggested we collaborate on a watercolor project together,” says Lobenberg, “and I responded that we could share a photo reference portrait of someone and each do a watercolor interpretation of it. Ibe suggested painting each other. Bingo!” Ananaba felt painting each other instead of a random model would result in a more meaningful exchange. Ananaba says, “We both got to study each other’s personality and appreciate our peculiarities, differences, and similarities.”
“Art, generally, is a powerful tool of communication and bonding, irrespective of age, location, tribe or race.” — Ibe Ananaba
Global Self-Portrait Love-In
It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get Lobenberg on board. He’s already a fan of portraiture. He had started another online project several years ago. “On my blog, I asked artists from all over the world to send in a self-portrait, and entitled the project “Global Self-Portrait Love-In” — a nod to my generation — but with this [new] project, we’re keeping it one-on-one.”
Lobenberg and Ananaba exchanged photos and practiced doing studies of the other one. “He sent me a variety of face-making photos, which added fun to the whole exercise,” says Ananaba. “The white beard has been a major pull.” What’s the takeaway? Ananaba says he’s learned that “art, generally, is a powerful tool of communication and bonding, irrespective of age, location, tribe or race.”
A version of this article originally featured in Watercolor Artist magazine.