David Fairrington's "Red Kimono" series

David Fairrington is Seeing Red

The desert artist helps the women who pose in the Red Kimono Series make a bold statement about who they are. See its Greater Palm Springs unveiling Oct. 6 at the Desert Art Center.

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David Fairrington's "Red Kimono" series

You can see the antlers perched on Jen’s head, but what artist David Fairrington reveals about her in his painting is her spirit.

Fairrington saw it in Jen’s eyes when she finally agreed to pose for him as part of the Red Kimono Series that will make its valley debut Oct. 6 at the Desert Art Center (DAC) in Palm Springs. Fairrington, who lives in Cherry Valley, is a well-known portrait and landscape painter who teaches classes at DAC and Ironwood Country Club in Palm Desert.

“I had asked her several times during the year if she would pose for it, and she would always say no,” Fairrington recalled. “One day Jen showed me this painting, and I commented about how possibly her painting could have some animal connection, and she kind of sparkled and she said, ‘OK, David, I’ll pose if I can wear deer antlers.’ I said, ‘Sure’. It came down to she kind of feels that the deer is a spirit animal for her and gives her strength.”

VIDEO: Artist David Fairrington reveals the story behind Cate’s portrait in the Red Kimono Series.

The tangible part of the Red Kimono Series came when a friend was cleaning out her studio and asked if Fairrington wanted the kimono, a traditional Japanese garment dating back to A.D. 749. Fairrington then linked the garment to a discussion he had with Cate, a student in one of his classes, who complained about a male artist who created a provocative Playboy-ish look by dressing his young female models more as sex objects.

“So I was thinking about what she said and this red kimono I had, and I thought, ‘What if I took this red komono, and gave it to several women, and they could pose any way they wanted to in it, as long as the pose made a statement about them,’” Fairrington said.

Patrons will be able to see more than 10 different interpretations of women wearing the red kimono, ranging from the more light-hearted like Jen’s, to a more serious revelation like Wendy, who recently retired from working at a music publishing company in Los Angeles, and is questioning her sexuality at a later age and if it’s still there.

“So in her pose she feels like she is expressing her sexuality, and telling the world that she is a sexual woman,” Fairrington said.

David Fairrington’s Red Kimono Series debuted over the summer at the Edward-Dean Museum in Cherry Valley where he lives.

Fairrington has been through his own catharsis after serving as a Army combat artist during the Vietnam War. His paintings are on display at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. That experience, along with others, shaped how Fairrington taps into his subject first by photographing them, and then transferring their essence onto canvas.

“I know that I have to know who I am, and what I’m feeling about a particular person or event for me to be able to paint it,” he said. “Sure, technically I can paint it. But that’s a very small part of it. How do you get yourself into the painting? If you’re painting a person, how do I get that person into the painting?”

“I work on my technical skills every day,” he added. “If your technical skills are at a point where you don’t have think about them, you have so much more freedom and flexibility to paint the emotion you want to paint.”

Fairrington still has another seven to complete the Red Kimono Series, and hopes to compile the works in a book.

Desert Art Center, Opening Reception & Fall Art Show featuring David Fairrington and Rick Christie, 6-8 p.m. Oct. 6, 550 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-323-7973; desertartcenter.org