Eagle Rock graphic artist and photographer Darren Pearson has combined his fascination with prehistoric creatures and a relatively new art form called light painting to create images of dinosaurs posed across modern-day Los Angeles. The 28-year-old Pearson uses the LED light emitted by a key chain to “paint” or “draw” lines in the air as a digital single-lens reflex camera set at a very slow shutter speed captures images of the neon-like drawings that emerge. The results are light paintings of dinosaurs poised on the hills overlooking the 2 and 5 freeways in Elysian Valley, blocking the entrance to an Atwater Village bridge and roaming across a parking lot in Glassell Park. Pearson shot a video showing how he creates his “light fossils.” Said Pearson via email:
As an artist, I love the blend of realism/surrealism and the challenge of imagining what you are creating as you go along in the dark. It’s a lot like sketching a mural into the air; an organic drawing process.
Click on the link below for images and a Q&A with Pearson.
Q: How did you get involved in light painting? What attracted you to it as an artist and business?
A: I got involved with light painting three years ago after seeing an image called ‘Picasso Draws a Centaur‘ by Jon Mili and Picasso taken in 1949. A photographer friend told me it was created by using ‘long exposure’ and that we could do it fairly easily with a DSLR camera, I got him to show me how to set up the camera and we did a few light drawing experiments in my living room. I’ve bought a few cameras since then, some lenses, a few tripods, and lots of lights.
As an artist, I love the blend of realism/surrealism and the challenge of imagining what you are creating as you go along in the dark.. It’s a lot like sketching a mural into the air; an organic drawing process. As a business, I just think it’s an interesting medium to work with. It gets people’s attention and has a bit of a magic factor.
Q: In the case of the dinosaurs, do you draw and photograph them in a “dark room” and then overlay them on a landscape photo? How long is the shutter exposure? What do you use for lights?
A: The images are not over-layed, they are all drawn within their respective environments. I’ve began to shoot videos to illustrate the process because I’ve had people accuse me of photoshopping them together.. which is understandable if you don’t know how the process works. The shutter is exposing for 5 minutes or more during most shots. I use press-on keychain LED lights.
Q: What lead you to the dinosaur images?
A: I’ve always loved dinosaurs and bringing the past to the present is always an interesting concept to think about for me. Sometimes I’ll sketch ideas out while I’m getting coffee, it helps to imagine how to arrange the shot. I post the photos on instagram and reference them from my phone as well. The images can take many tries to get right, sometimes I’m lucky and get it on the first or second try. Other times I get so tired from trying to get it right that I just give up and try again another day!
Mostly, the landscape inspires the drawing. I’m always looking out for interesting areas; if I see something that strikes me, I like to shoot a picture with my cell and mill it over for a few days until I have an idea. Sometimes I just go out wandering until I find some place cool.
Q: Have you sold any of your lighting paintings? Where is this project going for you?
A: I sell prints of my photo/illustrations through my etsy shop for $35-60 depending on the size. I’d like to see this evolve into a fine art thing eventually and do some international shows. Until then, I will be developing photo sets based on themes like fossils, mythology, and zodiacs.