Portraits Painted With Fire

Paint brushes suddenly seem so lame.


French artist Steve Spazuk “paints” portraits of faces, figures, and animals, using a highly unconventional, potentially dangerous technique: He uses fire and soot.


In this gorgeous video, by Patrick Peris, watch Spazuk use the flame of a candle or torch, combined with stencils and inked needle-tips and feathers to create dark, ephemeral entities. He shapes plumes of smoke into swirling patterns one moment and hard-edged silhouettes the next. The process is fairly unbelievable to watch.

It seems too chaotic to be possible, and in fact, Spazuk’s artist’s statement explains that embracing this chaos is key to his process:

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. Fuelled by the quest of a perfect shape that has yet to materialize, he concentrates in a meditative act and surrender to capture the immediacy of the moment on canvas.

And I’m guessing a handy fire extinguisher doesn’t hurt, either.

See more here and here.

[h/t: swissmiss]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach