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Drawing With Light

Embracing experimental drawing techniques, the student artists investigated light as a mark making material. The project begun by studying work that utilizes photography as a way to capture action, including work by artists such as Bruce Nauman, Gjorn Mili, and Gary Schneider. Nauman exemplifies this notion in blurring the perimeters of performance work by using photography as means to record an event or happening. Mili and Schneider both “drew” with external light sources, but in very different and contrasting ways. Gjorn Miliʼs photographs exist as records of his subjects, including Pablo Picasso, as the subjects drew with light. Schneider, on the other hand, had control of the light source in drawing with light over the surfaces of his subjects as they stood before him.


The teacher then facilitated a light drawing demonstration in which photographic terms were defined so that students understood how light is captured in photographic processes by means of aperture (size of opening through which light passes) and length of exposure (length of time light is let through). The students were then able to discuss how the manipulation of ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure time work together in creating an image.


For their own light projects, the student artists were given three open-ended prompts to use in approaching their light drawings––frame, rhythm, and choice. Each student artist made a work in which the artist framed his/her body with light. In another work, the Tracers created a still image of rhythm and movement. In the final, free choice photo, many Tracers recalled the methods of Gary Schneider and posed while directing a fellow artist to draw a portrait with a light moving across the surface of the face.

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