Candle Smoke Painting

Candle Smoke Painting
Karlo Zuno at work during a public demonstration.

Twenty-five, thirty years ago after my first visits to settlements and places inhabited by primitive men and seeing for the first time the cave drawings left by our ancestors thousands of years before, I was inspired by the idea of painting with the flame of a burning candle. Having experienced the art of primitive men created centuries before and despite the fact it was raw and in a way naive and done with primitive materials, I felt that it possessed a mesmerising attraction and power which draws us, the people of today to our roots back in time.

I was amazed by the influence of this art and its message to me and my contemporaries. These drawing on the cave walls done with primitive tools and materials made me wish to use the flame of a burning candle to paint. I find this technique is close to the methods used by primitive men. I feel that the soot from the burning candle leaves a message form the past on the painting. The graphic marks left from a burning candle have multiple and complex nuances in the whole spectrum form light grey to absolute black. Every mark and trace is unique in its originality and combination of nuances. There is something archaic about the painting and it reveals many hidden images which tell stories and inspire our imagination.

More than 20 years ago I started experimenting with this technique. I tried to capture images in the candle smoke and to bring them to life within the traces left by the flame of the burning candle. At the same time I had to rediscover and seek technical methods to get into the initial images left by the candle smoke. I continue doing this at present, I try to find new approaches and technical methods to capture the mood and the message

that each candle smoke painting hides and I now believe that the possibilities are limitless. I also realise that the journey to take this technique to higher levels is long and requires much efforts and persistence.

I know that this is an individual journey and I keep on discovering new possibilities and ways of expression and I believe that I will continue on this journey for the rest of my life. If I have followers I am sure that they will do even better than me because I believe that candle smoke painting is limitless.

When I am doing candle smoke painting I feel that I am all the time discovering new messages left by the traces of the candle flame; I keep discovering myself and in a way looking at the boundless universe.

In conclusion I would like to say that anyone can try candle smoke painting. But to achieve good results the individual has to know how to draw, how to use perspective, composition and be skilled in basic graphics techniques. The soot on the surface is very delicate and once touched cannot be reversed. This makes the painting difficult to achieve as every line must be done with confidence. This is impulsive art in order to capture the images and messages with minimum interference.

The artist must feel the flame of the candle when it is being used and use it confidently and with clear intention. The artist must be able to capture the images straight away. That is why best results are difficult to achieve, but professionalism comes with practice. In a way it is similar to virtuoso musicians who never stop practicing.