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Sketching With Soot Not Pencils

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No pencils, no problem for French-Canadian Steven Spazuk. The artist uses a unique way of creating his masterpieces using the soot of a candle's or a small torch’s flame. This technique is called fumage.

He holds the candle or torch under a clean white canvass to let the smoke blacken the surface. He then skillfully etches his subject by using a paint brush and feather on the soot.

He instinctively works with whatever shape and form of soot provided by the flame. According to him in his website,, “Spontaneity and chance are the heart and soul of his creative process. He does not censor. He does not direct. Spazuk opens himself to the experience. This in-the-moment creative practice coupled with the fluidity of the soot, creates a torrent of images, shadows and light”.

His amazing works include women, a series of birds, and portraits, including his father, his mother and himself.

How did he come up with this kind of unusual art? In this site,, Spazuk says, “It’s a little embarrassing, but I did dream of it. I was in a gallery (in my dream) and was looking at a black and white landscape and I somehow knew that it was painted with fire and completely understood the technique. In the morning when I woke up, I remembered the dream and started to experiment. It was an instant love affair with the medium”.

Spazuk has been practicing the art of fumage for the past 14 years.

Watch Spasuk's video.

video by Steven Spazuk/YouTube