Saturday, April 24, 2010

Animated Painting: At The Edge of Town

The painting:

 The video:

Months ago, I was contacted by Kyle, Joe and Alex from the music and art blog, Camp Revival, asking if I wanted to contribute something to their site.  It was the perfect opportunity to do something I had wanted to do for a while, but didn't really have the right equipment or reason.  I suggested animating the progress of a painting, mark by mark, accompanied by a later-to-be improvised soundtrack.  They were really enthusiastic about the idea and visited my studio to set up the camera and lighting, eventually leaving me with a blank canvas to fill.  As with most of my paintings, this one was entirely improvised, with no plan whatsoever.  It's always a thrill to embark on a new painting, not knowing where it will go or what it will look like, yet trusting it's eventual resolution. It was both exciting and strange thinking of an audience, not only for the final piece, but for the process as well.

And so it began, one splotch, then another, and then a steadily accumulating series of marks.  It's a very different experience to paint a mark and then step back behind a camera to snap a photo before paining the next mark.  The added step of the process slowed me down, making each mark very deliberate, yet it also tends to break the continuity and flow of mark-making that other paintings allow.  The strangest thing was to realize that someone would be watching these mark-by-mark decisions and I became aware of my painting process as performance.  There was definitely a push and pull between making decisions that were purely in the best interest of the painting, and making decisions that would be more entertaining to watch.  The possibility of a time-based narrative during the making of a painting (ala Wlliam Kentridge) was intriguing, but not something I went for.   I suppose that if there was a narrative through time, it would simply be about shooting into the dark and the discovery of where you end up.

Because the painting had been completely improvised, it made sense that the soundtrack would be too.  After figuring our the tempo of the frame rate, I played guitar to the beat, trying to follow and respond to the marks, musically.  I'm not sure which ended up weirder... the painting or the music.  It was also really interesting for me to combine two of the things I'm most passionate about.  It's something I've never had the motivation to connect before.

I also asked my friend, Andy Arkley if he would create a soundtrack for the painting.  Andy is a super-talented designer-animator-musician involved with two great bands, The Bran Flakes and Library Science.  Very graciously, he created his own soundtrack to the animation and I'm hoping to post a link to his version soon.

This was a really fun project to do, and I want to give my sincere thanks to Joe, Alex and Kyle for giving me the opportunity.  It was truly a pleasure to work with them.  Thanks!


  1. awesome, cable!! great painting, killer soundtrack!

  2. Fantastic. I wouldn't say the music was weird, but it did make me feel vaguely anxious!