Bicycles at the Intersection of Art & Physics

Pedal Damn It, diptych, 2018

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Rae Faba and I am an artist. Yes, this is a “real” job. Most people get up in the morning and go to an office. I’m like those people, except I drag my still-pajama-wearing ass into my studio where I paint all day. I do other stuff too, like graphic design, scheduling art classes and drinking beer. But mostly, I’m just like everyone else with bills to pay and a job that I sometimes love and sometimes hate.

I sometimes tell my teammates, “I’ll race anywhere, you know that.” The same goes for my art. I’ll art anything. So I do a lot of corporate commission work, where I don’t get to choose the subject materiel. when I’m not being a hired gun for the corporate community, I like to draw bicycles. 

What’s the big deal with bicycles? I’m sure each of your own reasons for loving what we do. For me, cycling sits at the intersection of geometry and physics; art and actual living. Art and geometry are intrinsically linked with physics. I often hear people say, “I didn’t do well in school at physics,” but you are doing physics every day. The actual mechanics of a bicycle staying upright are still somewhat of a mystery. And PLEASE don’t tell me you don’t understand gravity!

Consider also aesthetics of geometry… you all understand that too- take a moment right now to add up all the hours you have spent staring at your bicycle, assessing the angles, the seat height, the overall cohesion of your seat, bar tape and cable housing colours.

I bet it’s a LOT of time.

The small body of work I’m sharing with you today is part of a larger body of work that has been my focus for the last several years. I try to take each bicycle and highlight the characteristics that make its model unique.

Fiona, Fixed Gear, 2018

When i decided to paint my track bike, I focused on the single gearing and the chain and I wanted to draw attention to the energy being transferred from the crank to the wheel. In illustration, the little wiggles of paint and ink are called “action lines”.

Lisa, Mountain Bike, 2018

For my mountain bike, I wanted to frame the big wheels and tyres to accentuate what makes a mtb capable of doing what it does.

Roxxy, Road Bike, 2018

For my road bike, I wanted to draw attnetion to the frame geometry and shifty bits. Yes, I know what these parts are called, but I can’t spell it.

These works have all been executed with acrylic paint, found paper collage and india ink. I have preferred mixed-media methods since I was a young person, but it took me until about a year ago to really settle into my groove. I sketch the bike, apply background colours and then use found paper (beer labels or whatever else I can scrounge up) to create the bicycle itself. I then add detail work with ink.

Additional examples of this technique can be found in the gallery below, or at:

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