The American Girls Collection: Smoke Screen by Amy. - eBay

Installation Magazine:  Your new body of work Smoke employs a complex, unusual and sophisticated method of taming and painting with smoke.  How did you develop this technique to achieve this unusual effect?

Rob Tarbell :  The smoke technique began around 2005 with a few ideas coming together to form a what if moment.  The first idea was a self-help technique of burning sentimental things to remove their emotional connection or physical burden.  After visiting the Sistine Chapel (after its cleaning and restoration), I saw the significance of the accumulation of smoke over time.  After many failed attempts to create a portrait using liquor and cigarette smoke, the what if moment kicked in.  What if I got rid of all my credit cards, membership cards, and gift cards by burning them and captured the smoke to create an image? Seeing the resulting smoke led me down the path that I am on now.

There is smoke immediately after lighting but I have to wait a little to get the good smoke.  From beginning to end, the burn lasts about five minutes of good smoke time and depending on the size of the piece, I have to do more than one burn. I think the 40” x 30” piece I did for Installation took about 45 minutes of smoke time.  Planning and prep time is whole other story.