Steven Spazuk is a Canadian artist who has spent the last fourteen years developing and perfecting his techniques. He uses a rather tricky medium that not many other artists would even consider using. You see, Steven uses soot to paint.
His inspiration came from a dream of his where he was in a gallery looking at a black and white landscape portrait that he instinctively knew was created using fire. Sadly, his first few tries using actual fire to paint did not end well, to put it mildly. In the process, Steve also found out that he had to use thicker cardboard paper.
Eventually he was able to discover that he could actually paint with soot, a byproduct of fire, instead of the actual fire. It was good enough for Steven and thus began his love affair with soot. This was way back in 2001. Since then, he has created hundreds of delicate soot paintings.
First, he deposits just the right amount of soot from a candle or a torch into a piece of paper. This is actually a very tricky part. Hold the flame too close and you’ll burn the paper, too far and you won’t get any soot. Once he gets enough soot on the material, he spreads it around with pencil tips and feathers to create seductively lifelike images of the human form, birds, and dolphins.
He was stumped when it came to preserving his work. He went through a great deal of trial and error with fixatives and varnish before finally figuring out the right combination. These days, he has mastered the art of spray varnish. According to Steven, when working with soot paintings, you’ll need a really fine spray and you’ll need to spray it from a perfect distance to get a nice even coat and prevent the varnish from making runs down your work.
During an interview, he said: “It was a instant love affair with the medium. All my ideas related to soot came in those first weeks. The imprints, the entomograms etc… I had a great field of work to explore, and I was aware of all the potential ahead of me. I never stopped since…”
I love my dogs, reading books, and taking great pictures with my battered but still functional digital camera. Taking great pictures with a high end camera is almost too easy, producing fantastic images with an outdated one is an accomplishment by itself.