Canada-based artist Steven Spazuk does something pretty amazing with fire: he paints with it. No, it’s not drawing in the air and then taking photographs – he literally uses flame and soot to create gorgeous paintings with plenty of detail.

Using a candle or torch to create soot, Steven adds more detail using stencils or feathers. I learned he has been doing this for over a decade – 14 years to be exact. Even so, he still feels that there is always room for spontaneity and improvisation whenever he does his fire paintings.

According to various online interviews, Steven oftentimes doesn’t even know what he’s painting until the patterns and shapes form on the surface. He uses the soot to “guide” whatever image will come out. “I control nothing. I take the flame and the paper and I attack!” he said in one of his videos.

The thing is, soot is easy to damage. How does Steven keep his fire paintings looking fresh? “The biggest challenge in the beginning was to keep the drawings intact,” he recalls. “It took me lot of testing with fixatives and spray varnish. Now I can say that I am mastering the spray varnish. You need a really fine spray and you need to shoot at a certain distance.”

He didn’t always do this, though. In fact, he went through a gradual transition through different types of media – sketching, drawing, watercolor painting, acrylic painting, and even airbrushing. By 2001, a light bulb lit in his head: what if he used a canvas, exposed it to fire, and then controlled the marks left by the soot?

Since then, it’s been the style he’s stuck with about 99% of the time. Here’s a video to demonstrate what he does:

Here are some GIFs and photos of his finished work:

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You can visit Steven’s website to get even more mesmerized.

Thanks for reading!