What do you use your candle soot to create? More than likely nothing, but turns out candle soot can be used to make some seriously awesome art! Instead of using traditional pencils or paints, Canadian-based artist Steven Spazuk pours candle soot onto his canvas in order to create his incredible designs. Once the soot is on the paper, he uses a combination of pencils and feathers to complete the art.
Spazuk has spent a total of 14 years perfecting his method of soot drawings, using a technique officially known as fumage. All of this experience has given him the skills to create some outstanding art that has been displayed in galleries all over the world. Despite his obvious skill and knowledge he admits each project continues to teach him something new because the soot never acts the same more than once.
In an interview with Bored Panda, Spazuk explained how his idea for creating images using candle soot came about. “The truth is that I dreamt of it. I was in a gallery (in my dream) and was looking at that black and white landscape and I knew that it was done with fire and completely understood the technique.”
He thought he knew exactly what to do, and to some degree he did, but he quickly realized it was going to take some trial and error to get the process, and finished product, just right. The first time he tried spreading soot on paper he actually caught the paper on fire. Yikes! Lesson #1: use cardboard paper or a thicker stock than paper mat. Along the way he has learned many lessons, each one has brought him closer to his art.
Right off the bat Spazuk knew drawing with soot was going to work and he was determined to get it just right. This was back in 2001, at which point he says that within only a few weeks he had come up with endless ideas, “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…”
His incredible use of shadowing grants his fire paintings a certain movement that looks so real.
Spazuk has spent a great deal of time creating images that incorporate birds. He also likes to incorporate humans caught in a moment that explains so much more than it appears at the surface level.
He also creates mosaics using multiple, unrelated projects. This includes collecting different pieces of his artwork and then putting them altogether into something entirely unique from where it started.
After the initial ‘fire,’ Spazuk admits the most difficult part of the process was figuring out how to keep the drawings intact. Over the years Spazuk has tried out a number of fixatives and spray varnishes, as a result he now considers himself a true master of spray varnish–now how many people can truly say that?! In oder to pull of the look of his awesome soot paintings Spazuk says, “You need a really fine spray and you need to shoot at a certain distance.”
The spontaneity of the soot keeps Spazuk constantly creating in the moment. He cannot let his own ideas get in the way of where a painting is going to go, instead he has to work with what the soot provides in order to produce the most beautiful, and natural photo.
Watch the fire painting process in the video below to see the magic burn before your eyes!