by Patrick Ellasos . November 18th, 2014
We were always told by our parents that playing with fire will do us no good. But what about painting with it? French-Canadian artist Steve Spazuk uses the soot that rises from candles and torches as a medium to create unbelievable drawings and portraits. Some of his creations are shockingly realistic that will make you wonder if these artworks were digitally manipulated. But seeing actual videos of him while creating his masterpieces will leave you in awe. With the help of feather brushes and x-acto knife, he carefully scrapes images into the soot until the final image appears.
Spazuk stared using acrylic and watercolor during the early years of his career. But at one point in his life—strangely enough—he had a lucid dream about a black-and-white painting that was created using fire. By the moment he woke up, he knew exactly what to do. He became so intrigued by the thought of using fire as a medium that he went on to experiment various methods using it.
Soon enough, he was able to produce stunning pieces of artworks. “It was an instant love affair with the medium. That was in April of 2001 and I have been working with fire ever since,“ he recalled. Though of course, he knew it was going to be trial and error at first. The very first time he tried to spread soot on paper, he accidentally caught the paper on fire! From then on, he learned that thin papers are not the proper material for this. Instead, he used cardboard paper which is a thicker paper stock. It’s just incredible how one can use a not-so-ordinary medium and yet have it appear so natural.
His process is rather spontaneous that anything is a possibility during the process. Holding piece of paper over his head and a candle (or a small torch) on the other, he creates trails of soot underneath the paper that forms the basic shape of the subject. Then he will carefully sculpt the plumes of soot using various tools like feather brushes and x-acto knife to add details and depth to his paintings.
His works dramatically evolved in the recent years; now he creates huge fragmented portraits. These artworks were made with several hundreds of juxtaposed papers. One of the most famous piece is the portrait of Louise Bourgeois. He also created twin portraits of his parents exhibited side by side.
So what do you think of these incredible fire paintings? Hit us on comments below. For more of Steve Spazuk’s paintings and portraits, visit his personal website.
Manila-based multimedia designer specializing in graphic design, illustration and photo manipulations. Fascinated with vector illustrations, minimalist designs, and clever advertising ideas. Always on the lookout for creative stuff serving as his daily dose of inspiration.