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updated: 8/15/2014 10:26 AM

St. Charles artist paints with fire and smoke

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  • Video: Painting with flame and smoke

  • Fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski applies flame to a cloth canvas in her home studio in St. Charles. She uses many types of canvas material for her paintings, including tile and clayboard. She has to work quicker with a cloth canvas because it will burn, unlike a tile or a clayboard which allows more time with the flame to the surface.

       Fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski applies flame to a cloth canvas in her home studio in St. Charles. She uses many types of canvas material for her paintings, including tile and clayboard. She has to work quicker with a cloth canvas because it will burn, unlike a tile or a clayboard which allows more time with the flame to the surface.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski works in her St. Charles home studio.

       St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski works in her St. Charles home studio.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Abstract painter Anne Ressman Zabinski of St. Charles specializes in painting in surrealist technique called fumage, which is painting with fire and smoke. She also works with acrylics, watercolors and alcohol inks, sometimes combining those techniques with her fumage paintings. She works in a home studio and shows in studio space gallery near downtown St. Charles.

       Abstract painter Anne Ressman Zabinski of St. Charles specializes in painting in surrealist technique called fumage, which is painting with fire and smoke. She also works with acrylics, watercolors and alcohol inks, sometimes combining those techniques with her fumage paintings. She works in a home studio and shows in studio space gallery near downtown St. Charles.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Candles of all sizes and shapes sit at attention as St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski manipulates a fumage piece on clayboard in her studio. The size of the candle and wick changes the size of the flame imprints in her paintings. After applying the flame, she then manipulates the soot remnants on the canvas.

       Candles of all sizes and shapes sit at attention as St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski manipulates a fumage piece on clayboard in her studio. The size of the candle and wick changes the size of the flame imprints in her paintings. After applying the flame, she then manipulates the soot remnants on the canvas.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • "Splash" artwork by St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski is a combination of fumage, acrylic paints, and carved gesso.

       "Splash" artwork by St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski is a combination of fumage, acrylic paints, and carved gesso.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski applies flame to a cloth canvas in her home studio in St. Charles. She uses many types of canvas material for her paintings, including tile and clayboard. She has to work quicker with a cloth canvas because it will burn.

       Fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski applies flame to a cloth canvas in her home studio in St. Charles. She uses many types of canvas material for her paintings, including tile and clayboard. She has to work quicker with a cloth canvas because it will burn.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • A tiki candle is applied to a tile canvas. Anne Ressman Zabinski uses a glove to protect her hand from flame and dripping wax when using a wax candle.

       A tiki candle is applied to a tile canvas. Anne Ressman Zabinski uses a glove to protect her hand from flame and dripping wax when using a wax candle.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski at her St. Charles studio gallery. She does her artwork at her home studio and shows her work at a gallery near downtown St. Charles.

       St. Charles fumage artist Anne Ressman Zabinski at her St. Charles studio gallery. She does her artwork at her home studio and shows her work at a gallery near downtown St. Charles.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Artist Anne Ressman Zabinski works on a fumage piece on a tile canvas, eraser in hand, inspecting it as she rotates the square.

       Artist Anne Ressman Zabinski works on a fumage piece on a tile canvas, eraser in hand, inspecting it as she rotates the square.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

St. Charles artist Anne Ressman Zabinski has been painting with acrylics, watercolors and alcohol inks for several years, but sometimes she exchanges the brush and colored pigments for a candle and flame to create her abstract images with smoke. This technique of painting with smoke is called fumage.

The idea came to her two years ago while sitting around a campfire, and she wondered if anyone had ever made a flame dance across a canvas.

She discovered artists Wolfgang Paalen and Antonio Muñiz, and after seeing their work, said "I knew right then that I wanted to be a fumage painter."

Ressman Zabinski gathered all the information she could, along with a variety of tools, canvasses and candles and taught herself the technique.

Her canvasses range in size from small to medium and in materials from ceramic tiles to clayboard to actual canvas material. Designs and markings vary in looks depending on the distance of how near (or far) she holds the flame to the canvas. She then manipulates the sooty residue using water, carving tools, erasers and other tools. Sometimes she layers acrylic paints or alcohol inks into her artwork.

Ressman Zabinski says she connects so much to the surrealist art form because it's all about movement.

"Fumage enables to me to be a part of the art. I'm holding a candle that produces fire, and I'm moving around, just like the universe does and the earth does. ... That couldn't make me happier.

"I become part of the canvas, I become part of the tool to put those images on the canvas."

Ressman Zabinski says people often ask her when and why she became an artist, but she can't pinpoint a date. "I've always been an artist. ... It's a part of me, like an arm. I can't imagine it not being a part of me."

She says her life experiences are what have helped her develop into the artist she is today, and she expresses those experiences through her art.

"You don't just wake up and become something. It's really deep inside of everybody," Ressman Zabinski says of artistic drive and creativity. "It's when it gets to the top and you do something with it, that's when you finally have become an artist."

To see more of Ressman Zabinski's work and for information on her upcoming gallery show in September, go to artbyarz.com or facebook.com/artbyarz.

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