Creative Growth: Chalkboard Drawing/Self-portraits
Project info

In my studio in West Oakland, I have painted a large wall with chalkboard paint. There I take portraits of children and artists after they have drawn on the chalkboard. I am intrigued by the drawn chalk line as it is translated by the camera into a beautiful graphic element. Adding the drawing to the portrait creates a double portrait, because everybody’s drawing style is unique. I wanted to try out this process at Creative Growth because the artists there have such fluency in the language of drawing. Coincidentally, a new film had just come on the market, which followed in the tradition of Polaroid Type 55 film, in which each shot produces an instant positive print along with a negative.

Using a 4 x 5 view camera with this new film, I attached a shutter release with a pneumatic bulb, which allowed each artist to take his or her own picture alongside the finished chalk drawing. I have found in past projects how much a self-portrait eliminates the self-consciousness of posing for a photograph by giving the sitter control over the timing of the shutter-release. After practicing a few times, the artists got the hang of it and took very relaxed, natural pictures. Seeing the positive print immediately added to the excitement of the process.
I am so impressed by both the talent and the ability of the Creative Growth artists to jump right in and begin drawing.
Creative Growth is a 30 year old art center in Oakland for artists with disabilities.