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!

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?

Artist Statement Generator

© Anastasia Parmson 2013

Have you ever had trouble figuring out what to write in your artist statement and the deadline for sending it off is in half an hour? Ever heard of such thing as an Artist Statement Generator? Well, don’t go deleting your drafts just yet, but for a little procrastination break and some laughs they can definitely be of good value. And who knows, you might even get some ideas or cool words out of them.

  • The first one is a project called 500 Letters created by Jasper Rigole in response to a curator asking him to send a statement of 100 words or 500 letters as quickly as possible. Here is the ‘first letter’ that he responded with. The generated text is relatively long and not too personalized, full of ‘big’ words (which was probably completely intentional). The funny (or sad?) part is that the generated statement could very well be copy-pasted by an artist and presented as the ‘real deal’ and many people wouldn’t know any better
  • The second generator is more concise and easily modified to suit your needs. It is no less or more of a joke than the previous example but in this case the joke is a lot more obvious. At first glance the outcome seemed rather absurd but after a little tweaking I think I actually managed to generate a statement that might not be far from the truth. The best thing about this 10gallon generator is that it reminds us artists that our statements should not always be too serious – a little humor never hurt anyone.

Here is what my generated statement looks like:

Through my work I attempt to examine the phenomenon of line drawing as a metaphorical interpretation of both Warhol and anonymity.
What began as a personal journey of depressionism has translated into images of architecture and faces that resonate with caucasian people to question their own whiteness.
My mixed media drawings embody an idiosyncratic view of in-betweenness, yet the familiar imagery allows for a connection between Mona Lisa, pop culture and yourself.
My work is in the private collection of Oprah who said ‘Holy shizzles!, that’s some real exponential Art.’

I am a recipient of a grant from Folsom Prison where I served time for stealing mugs and tie clips from the gift shop of The MoMa. I have exhibited in group shows at Starbucks and Apollonia, though not at the same time. I currently spend my time between my kitchen and Berlin.

I think this absurd statement actually has a lot of truth in it regarding my work. I also think Andy Warhol would have loved the idea and is probably turning around in his grave for not having thought of it himself. Have you ever experimented with any artist statement generators? What were the results? I would love to see what came out of it so please feel free to share a link in the comments!

First Ever Newsletter!

New Work

Last week I sent out my first ever art newsletter! I am very excited and a little bit nervous about this new commitment. It seems like a huge step in my work process because having to send monthly updates will really keep me accountable to a lot more people than just myself. Talk about a shot of motivation to get things done! Click on the picture above if you would like to subscribe and be part of the journey!

If you are an artist wondering what this whole newsletter thing is about and wether/why you should start one, here is a great article explaining a lot of things.

PS: pictured above is the US Courthouse in New York. After visiting NYC for the first time I can see why so many artists and photographers have been inspired by the city throughout history. The light quality there is amazing and very unique. The contrasts and angles created by the architecture are almost magnetic – begging to be retraced by your camera, your pencil or your paintbrush… Artists who have been to NY – I know you know what I’m talking about.

graphic tablet or pen and paper..?

graphic tablet or pen and paper..?

As promised in my last post: here is a comparison of two similar drawings. The one on the left was done using a graphic tablet and the one on the right was done the old school style – with pen on paper, later scanned. Even though the subject and style are quite similar the difference in detail and line quality is apparent. I still can’t bring myself to say that one is better than the other because for me it all depends on how, where and in what circumstances the work is presented.
Which one do you prefer?

tools of the trade

tools of the trade

I used to do all of my drawing the classical way – using pen and paper. Sometimes I would add some color with felt pens and then scan the image to expand its potential uses. Which is part of the reason why all my original drawings are on A4 size paper. I treat the originals as if they are negatives (or RAW files) – something that is filed away in storage and not to be displayed in its original form.

Recently I decided to invest in a graphic tablet, hoping it would help my productivity and diversify my work. Granted, on the photos the old tools look a lot more colorful and interesting but the Wacom tablet has really changed my workflow and opened a whole new world of possibilities. I can add a lot more detail to the drawings, experiment with color, erase defects or go back to the black&white lines if necessary. I can expand the size of printed drawings to dimensions that would never be possible with the old A4 prints – no matter how high the scan resolution.

Getting a large scale proof printed of some older and newer works really hit it home for me today: the sleek, smooth finish of digital drawing is so different from the old scans with ink bleeds, paper texture and color distortions. On the one hand I do love the look of hand drawings with all the imperfections and wobbly felt pen color-ins. But on the other hand I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to smooth lines and clean colors.

In my next post I will put together a little comparison between the old and new technique so you can see for yourselves, so stay tuned!

Colors from Malaysia

Colors from Malaysia

On my way to Australia I stopped in Kuala Lumpur for a few days and stayed at a true CouchSurfing House with very generous hosts who had travelers passing through all the time. On my last night we went out for some street food and met this French girl who was traveling on her own. It turned out she was an artist as well and decided to travel around South-East Asia on her own to challenge herself and get out of a creative slump. We discovered we both had a similar problem: the fear of color. We were both afraid to add color to our artwork because it was difficult to decide which tones to pick and when to stop. So inspired by this accidental encounter I made this drawing of her and tried to use more color than I ever did before, which in a way is rather suitable to convey the colorful urban architecture of Kuala Lumpur. Do you have any phobias you have had to confront in the course of your work?
[“Last Night in Kuala Lumpur”, 2009, felt pen on paper]