Is it a photo? Is it a drawing? It’s a photo-drawing!

Here is something new I made as an experiment, I call them photo-drawings. There was an open call for an exhibition in Romania titled “A Photo from Oz” and I really wanted to participate seen as I have spent quite a lot of time in Australia and should therefore have some decent photographs from the place.

Looking through my pictures I realized that I have a tendency to photograph isolated landscapes and abandoned places. I could claim that it is a subconscious influence of Anselm Adams or the Bechers, but really I think it is a comfort zone. As an amateur photographer I find that people often ruin the picture. Maybe it’s an esthetic issue: they are wearing clothes that indicate something very specific and without them the image would have a more timeless feel (it’s the same with cars). I’m probably also afraid to disturb people – I know I dislike it when some stranger is pointing their camera at me. Technically you’re not even allowed to photograph people without their consent, especially if the photo is used in any even remotely commercial way such as an exhibition.

Funnily enough I find that pictures are usually more interesting with people in them. Since I love drawing people I decided to do a little experiment and draw the characters into the photos, creating a little narrative, feeding the imagination a little. I still don’t know what to think of the result. On the one hand it’s fun creating a whole new scenario for the scene. On the other hand it is disconcerting how the “imaginary” people draw your gaze in like a magnet and take attention off the details of the photograph.

What do you think of these? Let me know in the comments!

Photo of a red brick building and a drawing of a biker passing by contemporary artist Anastasia Parmson

Photo of a girl playing the harp in Byron Bay drawing of two men waling by looking at her

Photo of a dilapidated green back yard and yellow camper van, drawing of a shy girl behind the fence

Old pale green terrace house in Newtown, Sydney with a drawing of older person walking a sausage dog by contemporary artist Anastasia Parmson

Photo of a gray-blue brick wall with CCTV camera and two chairs in a back street of Newtown, Sydney, a drawing of a man sitting in one of the chairs. By Estonian artist Anastasia Parmson

Anastasia Parmson photo drawing, contemporary art, experimental, imaginary old man walking in the street in Newtown Sydney

This page has moved to my new website!

My website is now officially launched!

After a lot of work, sleepless nights, vision malfunctions and coding meltdowns I am delighted to announce that is now up and running and I can go back to having a social life again! Yay! Please visit, share, like, add to your bookmarks, visit again… From now on this is also the home of my blog and will replace the page you are on.

In parallel with the website I am also re-launching my Facebook page, which has ben freshly re-vamped to feature some of the older works as well as running art-related updates and commentary. Please join in if you haven’t yet!

Tallinn Light Biennale

I had the honor to be invited to participate in this year’s (and first ever) Tallinn Light Biennale that took place from November 24th to December 1st. It featured two indoor exhibitions and several public space installations with Estonian and international artists. My Light Box Drawing series Ship Life was part of the exhibition Luminous Utopias at Helios alongside big names such as Paul Friedlander and Kurt Laurenz Theinert and our domestic stars like Flo Kasearu, Meeli Kõiva and Kiwa Noid.

Kinetic light art by Paul Friedlander

“An Alternative Approach to Unifying String and the Standard Model of Particles” by Paul Friedlander: detail

Paul Friedlander’s kinetic light sculpture titled “An Alternative Approach to Unifying String and the Standard Model of Particles” definitely stole the show. I could not get my eyes off his work, he wrote the program himself for controlling the colour combinations and brightness of the lights, all of which could be manipulated by the audience with the help of a touch screen. At the Gala he even did a little impromptu performance demonstrating the simplicity of his idea. He is truly the mad scientist and I’m very glad he decided do turn his passion into art, absolutely ingenious!

Three detailed views of Kati Kerstna's installation at Tallinn Light Biennale

“In The Eye of The Beholder” by Kati Kerstna

One of my other favorites was a multi-layered work of drawings on glass revealed by LED lights by Kati Kerstna. The sheets of glass were superposed inside a box and side-lit by twinkling lights, revealing portraits with changing expressions one after the other and sometimes several at once. (Boxes, LED lights, drawings…? Yes, it’s all sounding very familiar. Have I ever mentioned that I tend to like works that remind me of mine? I think that’s a good thing, no?)

Light Pillar installation with video projection in the background. Photos from "One Beam of Light" by Light Collective. Photos by Anastasia Parmson

Exhibition view on the left and on the right a detail from “One Beam Of Light” by Light Collective

There were many other interesting installations and artworks up and even more things to see all around the city centre, including video mapping and architectural lighting projects. The most impressive was the official Gala in Helios with a concert by the composer Sven Grünberg and a spectacular light show by Kurt Laurenz Theinert. Helios is a large building and during the Gala it was packed; my works have never had this much exposure so it was very humbling and also pretty awesome. You can see photos of the Gala and other Light Biennale events here.

Light Box Drawing called Untitled (Action Stations) exhibited at Tallinn Light Biennale

Untitled (Action Stations) by Anastasia Parmson

Now the exhibition has closed, my light boxes have been packed away and I am contemplating organizing myself a home-made “studio retreat” (switching off my phone and all social media outlets and locking myself in my studio for a week). Hopefully I will have more occasions to show my work again very soon!

Exhibition in Rundum: Photos and Credits

Here are some photos from my recent solo exhibition in Rundum, Tallinn. It opened on November 14th 2013. That same night we also held an Artist Talk where a representative from the local animal rights group (Loomade Nimel) Kristina interviewed me about the connections between my art and activism.


Panoramic exhibition view

This was my first time exhibiting the newest body of work I call “Ship Life”, which is a series of drawings of my time as a volunteer onboard the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd ships. My drawings are always based on photographs and I must admit back then I wasn’t a confident enough photographer to whip out my little camera in the harsh Southern Ocean environment, so all of these drawings are based on photos taken by other people. First and foremost I am honored to credit my friend and shero Jo-Anne McArthur – the woman behind We Animals and the protagonist in the amazing new documentary The Ghosts In Our Machine. Most of the photos I used for these drawings (including the majestic Bob Barker on the wall) were taken by Jo-Anne. Other photographers I would like to credit are Barbara Veiga, Anna WlochIt’s A Wildlife and Glenn Lockitch. These drawings wouldn’t exist without you guys!

3 light boxes installation detail

This was also the first public display of my light boxes. I told all exhibition guests who would hear me out about how great LED lights are and how we can change the world for the better if we all ditch the incandescent and halogen bulbs for LEDs. In fact, all the lighting used at the exhibition was specially designed, mainly made of just LED strips and aluminium profiles.

Rundum exhibition, detailed view, Tallinn, näitus, Anastasia Parmson

Special cool white LED lighting to set the tone

I must also say a big thank-you to the Rundum team, they were great and helped me a lot with many little last minute errands. They were also the perfect little fairies at the opening night – making sure that everything is in order and guests are happy.

rundum expo large boxes-2

boxes in rundum 9

It is imperative that I give a big wave and virtual hugs to all my fellow crew members: you probably don’t know this yet but your beautiful faces are now permanently lit up and seen by as many people as I can muster. This particular series of work features pictures of: Arne, Bevan, Cam, Chris, Christine, Dave, Mal and Paul!

boxes in dark exhibition Anastasia Parmson Rundum Tallinn

In dim light the light box drawings look as if they are floating in the air

Last but not least I must say thanks to my wonderful assistant / technical advisor / installation director Philip who took such great care of this project as if it was his own.

rundum wall detail-1

As soon as the exhibition finished I had to rush the light boxes to the next event. But more about that in a next post…

Wall Drawing Process

© Anastasia Parmson 2013

Here is a time lapse of the wall drawing progress for my solo show in Rundum Artist-Run Space in Tallinn. It is a drawing of the Sea Shepherd ship M/V Bob Barker based on a beautiful photo taken by Jo-Anne McArthur (We Animals). The whole process only took something like 7 hours and several marker re-fills. I was extremely happy to be able to do this; drawing on walls is incredibly fun and hopefully I can repeat the experience again soon! If it was up to me I’d be doing a lot more drawing on walls, filling whole rooms with drawings in fact, a little like Charlotte Mann who draws furniture and decorations and even parquet floors! There are so many intricate details in her work, it is just mind boggling. Perhaps one day I will have a blank-canvas room all to myself to fill with a linear world…

Follow-up on Rundum exhibition preparations


My long-awaited LEDs did arrive on Monday but turned out to be a completely wrong colour compared to the previous ones, making the pictures look purple. So yesterday I had to travel far and wide and visit parts of Tallinn I didn’t even know existed to find more-or-less suitable LED lights for the new light boxes. The problem with living in Estonia as opposed to Asia is that people don’t yet appreciate the tremendous greatness of LED lighting and thus they are A) not readily available on every corner and B) not affordable at all. Because I was desperate and didn’t have time to order more lights from China I had to pay more than 10 times (!) the price I would normally pay per meter of light strip. I will put this experience behind me as a big lesson and next time will order a mountain of lights from Asia to be sure I have enough for any situation. Now let’s not talk about it ever again.

Instead here’s a little sneak-peak of the mural I have prepared for tomorrow’s exhibition opening. I am so happy I got to finally experience drawing on walls and I love it! If I could I’d do just that all day long: drawing on walls, on paper, on everything that crosses my path!!

The wall drawing took me about 7 hours to finish and used up the entire marker nib along with several ink re-fills. But that’s okay because when looking for the perfect tool for the job I discovered the amazing company called Molotow that makes re-fillable markers with inter-changeable and replaceable tips. They have the right attitude toward sustainability and a great product range so I am happy to give them a big shout-out.

I’ll post more photos of the drawing process as soon as the major running around and preparations are done with!

Exhibitions and Murphy’s Law

newsletter 2


As I have just announced in my second Newsletter – the recently mentioned exhibition project proposition for Rundum Artist-Run Space has very quickly turned into my very first solo show and it is opening already on November 14th! So for the past week we have been very busy with my wonderful assistant: cutting, printing, putting together more light boxes for the exhibition. Of course as Murphy’s Law would have it there is still one vital part missing: the LED lights I ordered (before I even knew there was going to be an exhibition) have not yet arrived in the mail. If they won’t be in my mailbox by tomorrow morning then I don’t even know…

And of course it turns out that everything is either happening all at once or not at all because this week I was also contacted by the curator of Tallinn Light Biennale inviting me to show some work there, which is pretty amazing news! So the last day of my Rundum show will also be the day they start putting up exhibitions for the Light Biennale.

This means that between organizing my first solo show and worrying about missing LEDs I am also trying to figure out when and how I could conjure up some site-specific projections to install in the awesome Helios cinema building in Tallinn Old Town where a big part of the Light Biennale will be held. It will have to be something easy to make and to install as the festival opens already on November 24th and I won’t even be around for the installation process. Instead I will be heading to Berlin for a few days to meet up with my course mate from Strasbourg University and attend a workshop on web documentaries.

This is all very exciting and nerve wrecking and exciting and I am really looking forward to the next few weeks… In the meantime if any of my readers happen to be in Hong Kong or Tokyo right now perhaps you could FedEx me a few meters of LED strip?


how i found my visual handwriting

old drawing style versus new

drawing style change: 2003 to 2008

When I was studying art in high school I could not comprehend why one teacher never seemed to be satisfied with my portrait drawings. I was able to achieve such great resemblance with the subject through meticulous shading and pencil smudging – the perfect use of possibilities that a 2B pencil can offer with its grayscale variations. And yet she thought it was lacking personality. At the time I didn’t understand at all what she meant by that.

In university we rarely had any drawing assignments, so my skilled grayscale-hand got rusty. But one time we had to put together a huge portfolio with a lot of sketches, including drawings of everyday objects such as shoes and pots. One night I was sitting at my desk fighting boredom while trying to draw a saucepan and realized that if I wanted to draw it in my usual way I would have to do a lot of tedious and uniform shading. So it is out of laziness and boredom that the idea struck: why not draw just the contours of the object and the lines between dark and light areas to give it depth.

That drawing took me only a few minutes to make (and as I have a rather short attention span then energy efficiency is extremely important for me) and ever since then I have never gone back to pencil-shading or even pen-hashing to differentiate light and dark areas of an image. I wonder what my old teacher would say about my drawing style now…

Have you ever made any valuable discoveries out of laziness?

First sneak peak of the new light box series!

Big Glove (Ship Life series) – drawing in a light box, Anastasia Parmson 2013

Here is a sneaky-peaky of one of my light boxes (with Tallinn city lights in the background)! This one is called “Big Glove”, it is part of a series of light box drawings entitled “Ship Life” that retrace moments of my time spent onboard one of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships in the Antarctic waters. This work could perhaps evoke the bleak and cold environment of the Southern Ocean with its snow-white shiny backdrop and the images reduced to a bare minimum.

Between assembling the boxes, getting some other artworks printed and encountering various technical difficulties in-between all that I am also putting together an exhibition project for a freshly opened artist-run space Rundum situated in the old town of Tallinn. As well as doing research on some upcoming juried shows and open calls; meeting new interesting people from the local art world; slowly putting together my website… Interesting times!