Painting with Light Workshop

To coincide with an exhibition of paintings by internationally acclaimed performance artist Andre Stitt we asked photographic artist and workshop leader Kate Dunwell to devise a workshop which could incorporate elements of performance and mark making in a fresh and contemporary way.

“The idea behind the workshop was to create interesting fun images, exploring mark making, movement and the way your own body can create a composition in a really simple but effective way using a method you can re-create with your own cameras at home- a simple photographic technique using the camera set on a long/open exposure and moving lights to draw an image.” Kate Dunwell

Project Plan:redlight

  • Suitable for age: 8+ ( you could do this with any age providing right staffing levels and equipment)
  • Group size: of 15
  • Workshop duration: 2 hours

What you need:

  • Battery powered torches, fairy lights or bicycle lights
  • Digital Cameras ( we used 2 digital SLRs but most compact
    cameras will work)
  • A darkened space.
  • Props can be fun e.g . fancy dress box
  • Printing facilities ( if you can’t print you could make a digital

Set up 2 workstations:Moustache

  1. A fixed position tripod with camera set to a long exposure in a darkened area. One person takes the photo, while others move lights in front of the camera.
  2. A fixed camera with umbrella flash. With this set up I introduced a dressing up box to create quirky portraits, drawing with the torches moustaches, glasses and love hearts to frame their faces.

Several people had brought their own cameras and I showed them how to find the right settings.

Final Step:

For the last half an hour we selected their favourite images, which we printed out onto photo paper and put into mounts to take home!

Top tip no 1:

camera settingTo find a long exposure on compact digital cameras/ cameras people have at home Look through the scene selection menu and chose a night-time mode.

Top tip no 2:

Another great effect is taking a long exposure when a car drives past and you get a long light line of where the car is going, “paint its headlight.

Top tip no 3:

For contextual background on light painting techniques research 20th Century artists Man Ray, Gjon Mili and 1914 Frank and Lilian Gilbreth.


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