Friday, July 20, 2012

Painting on Polaroid



I was invited to Tim Mantoani's photography studio last friday, to collaborate on an art project.

The plan was to draw Tim Mantoani, while Chris Park filmed the process. Beyond that, details were vague. We intended to improvise, collaborate, make something up on the spot - film it and post it on the interwebs. We figured that would take the rest of the afternoon, so we ate Vietnamese pork sandwiches first.

I asked to draw on an old camera box, something photography-ish, or personalized to Tim. Offering help, Tim dragged in a giant cardboard box - the box a Moto Guzzi motorcycle was delivered in. Nice piece of cardboard, but it didn't say Tim enough for me.

 "How about drawing on a Polaroid?" Tim ran up the stairs looking for one.

It was a lot bigger than I expected, thinking of those little, square, white ones. A large format Polaroid is bigger than my drawing board! 20 x 24 inches, plus extra at the top and bottom.

We tested a corner of the Polaroid with a dab of acrylic paint, and it stuck like crazy. The surface was better than expected to paint on. Colored pencils would not show up on the dark slippery surface. Markers would work on light areas. Ink seemed to stick. My mind was scrambling about how to draw on that surface.

Our idea was taking shape.

Painting on Polaroid.

One image slowly develops into the another, over the course of a time-lapsed video.

I'd paint his portrait, on top of his giant Polaroid self-portrait, and we'd film it. Both portraits combined into a collaboration - each artist treating the subject his own way, in layers. The process of transformation from one to another captured, in time lapse.

The whole idea was nice and symmetric. We decided to make an afternoon of it.

I sat in my place, waiting, with my drawing board and art supplies, while Chris Park set up a giant soft box, lights, and four Canon 5D cameras. We estimated 20 minutes to draw the portrait.  It took 34.

Chris programmed the overhead camera to slowly travel, about 6 feet over the course of the video. The rig crawled along a rail with a camera atop, clicking away every second. The second camera was on Tim, a third faced me, and Chris operated the fourth camera handheld.

Tim sat across from me, unsure if sitting still for 20 minutes would really suck, or not. Or how bad.

Chris said everything is ready, and all the cameras started clicking. They sounded like an old grandfather clock, but louder.

Yikes! I better start painting something - squinting at the subject, I started mixing white paint in a baby food jar to stall for time... Watch the video to see it all go down!

Tim Mantoani  Paint over Polaroid: Smith/Mantoani

20 x 24 inch Polaroid, white acrylic paint, Japanese brush pen, india ink.

G.

2 comments:

Dawood Marion said...

Awesome! Love the energy of this video.

Graham Smith said...

Thanks man! Chris Park did the energetic editing on this video. I gotta give props!

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