Notes on Live Painting

by Lee Zimmerman, September 11, 2010

I do live, large-scale painting events. I paint on silk with dyes. The dyes flow through the surface of the silk and are visible on both sides. When I perform, I am on one side of the silk panel and the audience is on the other side. The audience does not see me, but they do see the painting come alive as if by magic.

A portion of a performance of A Story in Three Parts broadcast by WDSE on April 15, 2010


Other Recent Live Painting Events

International Silk Painters Festival

The Secret Garden


There are several audience experiences that are intertwined in each of my live painting performances.

Danger - I get one chance to create the painting with the dyes and silk.

Vibration - The silk has its own life. It seems to vibrate and breathe on the frame. Light singing across it even before the dyes have touched its surface.

Creation - Like other performance arts, there is an instantaneous anticipation of the choices the artist will make in the moment. There is surprise at what is painted and sense of security in guessing the next step. Like a song that veers into an unusual harmonic then moves back to the familiar tonal resolution. This is the magic of performance.

Moment - When the song ends, we are left with only our memories of the harmonics. At the completion of the live painting each visible stroke of the painting carries some information about its construction. Each mark carries information about those strokes that have past.

Echo - An artist hopes that their work will touch the observer - that the final image will resonate, open, and change people in a small way. The painted images are meant to have depth, tell a story, and to echo over time.