Face to Face (with Video)

Mashup of a drawing and a photograph.

The general perception is that artists toil in isolation creating their masterpieces.

The Mona Lisa

Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”?  Painted in seclusion.

Whistler's Mother

“Whistler’s Mother”?  James Whistler completed this gem all by his lonesome. 

Soft self portrait with fried bacon by Salvador Dali.

Salvador Dali’s “Soft Self Portrait with Fried Bacon?”  An unassisted self depiction.

We should also consider that the artist and subject collaborated to create these masterpieces.  For example, Lisa Gheradini’s iconic smile was no accident.  Da Vinci specifically instructed the Mona Lisa subject to NOT smile.  Da Vinci frequently took breaks, hopping on one foot and yelling “Toodles!” in order to elicit the paradigmatic smirk.  Whistler put his Mom Anna in time out for leaving an empty buttermilk bottle in the icebox, thus her stoic expression. In Dali’s case, the father of Surrealism spent hours standing up, sitting down and running back and forth from the kitchen to fry more bacon.

Sure, studio time allows the artist and subject to work together intimately. But what about other artists who practice their craft in public?  Artists who collaborate with complete strangers every day?  Like face painters or tattoo artists? 

Zonia Lee, volunteer face painter.

Zonia Lee volunteers as a face painter for Family Fun Days at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, Ga.  Walk past Zonia’s face painting table and she engages you with an inviting tone.  Which makes sense.   

By day, Zonia teaches Special Education and, when applying the paint, utilizes an educator’s patience.  She has an artist’s attention to detail yet calmly interacts with her subject and the other face painters at the table.  After she finishes, she asks for feedback and hopes the result is satisfactory. 

Beto Salazar, tattoo artist.

Jose “Beto” Salazar creates “art for the skin” at Tattoo Fiesta in Brookhaven, Georgia.  Beto grew up in Puebla, Mexico and has been drawing since he was ten years old.  For the last fifteen years, the human form has been his canvas. 

He maintains a obsessive focus while drawing, even when the barista from the juice bar next door asks about a touch up on some ink.  Occasionally, he’ll nod in approval when a favorite speed metal song comes on his YouTube playlist.  When he’s done, he exhales and twists the skull ring on his middle finger.

Zonia, Beto and their subject have never had a face time conversation, much less worked together in the same room.  Yet, they collaborated to create the image at the top of the page.  In the video below, you’ll see how it all came together.

That was a pretty cool collaboration.  But say I don’t have Beto’s technical skills.  True.  Most people don’t.  And asking random people to paint their faces like Zonia did might get MY face punched.  Or arrested.  Also true.  So, say I’m a little shy.  Is it possible to meet new people to collaborate with?

Oh, the possibility to collaborate with partners you haven’t met is there.  In addition, they’ll come to you.  And there’s free parking.

Where?  Visit a local park.

For example, Don White Park in Roswell, Georgia sits along the Chattahoochee River.

A couple hiking on a trail.

The park features state-of-the-art amenities such as hiking trails,

People playing beach volleyball.

beach volleyball

Public water fountains.

and free water.

As a result, the park attracts a diverse crowd of fitness devotees and accidental collaborators. 

A few weeks ago we talked about painting in the Jackson Pollock style (“Action, Jackson” You’ll find a link at the bottom of the post).  Action painting is ideal for attracting soon-to-be partners.  The canvas is big and the motion intrigues people.  Once you lay down a drop cloth and start dripping and splattering, people will stop by.  They’ll offer encouragement, give feedback and constructive criticism, interpret your work-the list goes on and on.

David Paris, art lover.

To illustrate, David Paris is a retired construction engineer.  

Ask him how he spells his last name and he’ll answer in a bookish drawl, “Just like the city.”   He and his wife train for marathons in the park and when they’re not training, they coordinate relief efforts for the less fortunate in Venezuela. 

 During training breaks, David stops by to discuss color selection, drip patterns and where to buy cheap sheets.  A longtime Pollock admirer, David relishes sharing his experiences with action painting-the need to use up leftover paint, the pure fun, the amusing paint stains on the driveway. (More incentive for park painting)

What about painting on the lawn by the volleyball courts?  That looks like hippie art fun.  Go for it.

Volleyball players between sets.

And, between sets, the volleyball players will come over to check out what you’re doing.

Your experience may differ and maybe it’s all the digging and spiking, but volleyball players are harsh critics.  They critique along the lines of color commentators during a game. “I like it.  Is it art?”  “It’s beautiful but I don’t see any people.” “How should I feel when I look at this painting?” Remember, we’re in hippie mode so just go with the flow and respond with something like, “What emotions do the colors remind you of?”  That’s the fun of collaborating, recognizing and validating contrasting opinions.  It keeps the conversation going.

All this painting and talking to people seems like a good time.  But couldn’t I get in trouble for making graffiti or something?  It’s not a gang, it’s a collaboration.  If the police drive by, they’re just as curious as David Paris and the volleyball players. 

Mark from the Roswell police department.

As an example, Mark from the Roswell police department stopped by to assess the action.

He had seen an open trunk and a person walking around, swinging his arms.  Presumably, that’s a red flag.  After making sure all involved were safe, Mark asked if the park provided inspiration.  He then went into detail about the surrounding beauty and diversity.  Furthermore, he raved about the park’s trail system, explaining that it stretches into the neighboring counties.

Mark continued that he loves art and has deep respect for the creative process.  He explained that his creativity is limited to cooking and listening to music. However, he loves the idea of conceiving a project from start to finish and listened attentively for advice and pointers.     

An artist’s studio space may be a luxury.  We might have sketchy mastery of shadow and light and we might be shy.  On the other hand, city parks offer free space to make art and park goers enjoy participating in the creative process.   It promotes an exchange of ideas and, in the end, fosters unplanned collaborations. 

A painting in two parking spaces.

All you need is an empty parking space.

If you enjoy art, parks or free water, please like and share the post.  Also, feel free to leave a comment.  Your collaboration is greatly appreciated.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

1 thought on “Face to Face (with Video)

  1. A great collaboration between artists using wildly different mediums.
    As usual, the video was excellent.


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