Light Magica Mandala

Light Magica Mandala
Light Magica Mandala / 2013 / Terry Long

Drawing and painting with light has always felt more like a magical or alchemy process to me, than a photographic one. It is certainly a journey of discovery, which many times takes me into the realms of meditation, art therapy, and spirituality. Interestingly, the word photography comes from the Greek words phos, meaning “light,” and graphis, which means “stylus.”  Together they mean “drawing with light.” The action of drawing with light was first recorded in the 1880s by Etienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demey, who were both studying natural movement in animals. They were contemporaries of Eadweard Muybridge, the English photographer who was the first to capture the movements of a  running horse in sequence.

Pathological walk, front view / Demeny & Queni (Marey’s laboratory) / circa 1889

The image above, which was taken by Etiennes-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny is one of the first known photographs to capture the walking movements of a human by using lights which were attached to the joints. Both Marey and Demeny played a pioneer roll in cinema. You can find more information about Marey here… and here… and information on Demeny here…

Picasso drawing with light / 1949 / Gjon Mili for Life Magazine

It was Mili’s photographs of Picasso that was published in Time Magazine that sparked my interest in the medium of drawing and painting with light. Mili, who was born in Albania, came to the United States in 1923, and managed to get a job as a freelance photographer for Life Magazine, a position he held until his death in 1984. Mili worked with Harold Eugene Edgerton and pioneered electronic flash and stroboscopic lighting. He was also assistant to Edward Weston for a while.

Matisse drawing with light / 1949 / Gjon Mili for Life Magazine

It was Mili who was the wizard of drawing with light technique, and not Picasso and Matisse, who were shown how to use the medium by Mili, and it looks like they really enjoyed working with it, but I have found no evidence that they continued to use this relatively new art medium. You can see and learn more about Mili’s life and work here… and here…

Sikorsky Helicopter / 1949 / Andreas Feininger for Life Magazine

Another great photographer and pioneer of “sky writing” which is another name for drawing with light, was Andreas Feininger, who also worked for Life Magazine, just like Mili. Feininger took a series of night time photos of Sikorsky helicopters taking off and landing to create this stunning image.

andreas feininger ferris wheel
Ferris Wheel / 1949 / Andreas Feininger

This is one of my more favourite photographs of  Andreas Feininger, and relates to my own work of creating mandalas with light. For more information about Andreas Feininger and his outstanding photography, try this link

Alchemy with Light

Lighting tools  / 2013 / Terry Long

These lighting tools above are part of the paraphernalia that I use for drawing and painting with light, and the glass prism is the one I used to create both Light Magica Mandala and Madeleine’s Mandala in this article, plus a little bit of photoshop magic!

Madeleine's Mandala
Madeleine’s Mandala / 2013 / Terry Long

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