THE ART PROCESS: Light Painting
Painting with light is a gorgeous reality. This process occurs when a long-exposure photograph is taken while a concentrated light source is in motion. The first time I saw this happen was in photographs taken on a childhood camping trip of the bonfire at night. Since the camera was an automatic, it compensated for lack of natural light with a long exposure which captured the action of embers popping and flying off the flames. Let’s just say I couldn’t believe my 8-year-old eyes of the result!
Light painting isn’t a new art process but is definitely one with developing possibility. A recent trend is street artist illuminating their work in urban settings. Engaging in a quick google search will load your eyes with endless attempts and successes. You’ll immediately notice patterns and similarities between what different artists are doing with light painting, but there are some who are pushing the lit-up envelope, so to say.
The finest example I can produce is Pablo Picasso’s light paintings. Now, I say this with very little credibility but I’m quite sure the father of cubism is responsible for shedding light (embarrassing pun) on this art process. In the images above, he’s shown wildly painting his famously abstract figures with a flashlight. Not only was this a thrilling way to capture Picasso in action, it also appropriately translates a memory of light which we cannot register with our eyes alone. Meaning, without the photograph, the painting does not exist to us. I wonder how many tries it took Picasso to get this right, and in times when it didn’t work, was he just creating air paintings? I’d like to think so!
If you want to try out this process yourself, Vimeo’s “video school” has a detailed step-by-step lesson.