LOS FELIZ—Adam Abraham’s eye-catching paintings shows a skill beyond his years. Currently just 19-years-old, he began treating art as a serious endeavor during his senior year of high school. Two years later, he has taken part in over 15 group shows around Los Angeles. He’s cultivated a personal style through his use of earthy materials, painting exclusively on wood panel and making his marks with graphite and oil paint. Primarily, he creates portraits that are traditional in their celebration of beauty, but bring a modern edge with metallic hues.
Abraham modestly remarked to Canyon News, “I’ve never been interviewed before” when I pulled him outside of the third Vanity Pop art show to ask him a few questions. Regardless, his demeanor was eager and open. “I probably started [painting] around sophomore year of high school, but wasn’t really taking it seriously until about senior year. Quote-unquote ‘professionally’,” he says, laughing. I caveat that I’m only 21 to make him more comfortable, far from being a journalist with years of experience. He responds positively; it seems to help him open up a bit.
He goes into how his artistic skills came about in high school. “What was cool about my art class at school was that my teacher gave us a lot of free roaming. She said, ‘This is how you use [techniques], but the way you use them is up to you and you can have fun with that.’ So you could say I taught myself with guidance. I built my style myself and progressed through it with the guidance of my teacher.”
The style that he built for himself is centered around lush portraits of beautiful people, usually women. The subjects are mysterious and intriguing; you can’t look at them without wondering who the models are. “Sometimes they’re people I know. Lately they haven’t been. I find a picture of a girl, I find out who she is and she just becomes my muse, and I just can’t get my mind off of creating her into a painting. Boy or girl, mostly girls…I latch onto a face that I fall in love with for a while and stick with it.”
The artist doesn’t always let the models know he’s taken inspiration from them: “Some of them are models who are very popular and they aren’t easy to get ahold of, but there have been a few times where they have seen them and been appreciative of it. It’s really gratifying.” No one has ever gotten upset with him for painting them, but Abraham tells me he worries about that all the time. “I get concerned, like, ‘Are they gonna hate this?’ Are they gonna be like, ‘Why didn’t you ask me about this?’ and I’ll [tell the models] ‘I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help it…I’ll never do it again!'”
Abraham’s paintings all having a cohesive aesthetic, pulling a lot of inspiration from the beauty of nature. “I will stop on the street for ten minutes if I see a flower that’s just like, too perfect,” he says. “I kinda can’t help it, my friends think I’m weird.” When he started to get bored of painting only flowers, his mentor encouraged him to expand his repertoire, which lead to an unexpected new motif: “He [advised] ‘Well, add something!’ I was being sarcastic and I said, ‘What do you want me to do, put some fish in it?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds awesome, try it out’…and I went with it…so I worked it in! It worked out. It was fun. I realized I really enjoy painting fish.”
Indicative of his youth, he still seems to be finding his way as an artist, but he’s definitely on the right path. In talking about his method of completing a work, he reveals some age old wisdom about the creative process. “If I do something on it and I don’t like it, I’ll scrub it away. I’ll look at it for a month…and I’ll just wait until I get a good idea for it, and my idea from beginning to end usually changes drastically by the end of the piece, just because of what happens during the [the process of making the] piece, it’s very push-and-pull.”