Smoke Painting and Brulage, May 14


smoke painting, ink dripping and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

We see the surface textures of things and miss the heart of them.

Meanwhile our lives are full of holes where creatures live out of sight and unknown to us.

But if we listen closely we can hear the skittering and feel the electric ripple of skin in that part of us that knows. . .

I do love to paint with smoke! It’s not hard.  Light a candle and hold the paper at an angle over it, letting the flame kiss the paper until you see a stroke of soot/charcoal/smoke dust on the paper.  If you wait too long, or hold the flame on the edge of the paper you get burnt paper or “brulage” (we do love those French words!)  Instant painting!  That’s what we did in Monday’s class.

It’s a lesson I’ll be repeating on May 14 in a mini-workshop in my studio.  You are welcome to come! As you can see above, we take the smoked beginning and let it lead us into more mixed media fun.  Here’s a couple more examples: “Up in Smoke” and “Smoke and Mirrors”

If you’d like to register, visit my website for more information!


The Playful Muse

I like to change the title of my workshops every so often, because with my changeable nature, I must leave room for new ideas to take root and grow.  

There’s still time to sign up on my web page and get in on the fun!



Here’s some of the mixed media lessons which are coming up this fall in the Playful Muse Groups on Monday afternoons and Saturdays:  acrylic skins (and not just the paint kind. .  .), taking a small idea and going BIGGER, pattern painting with an arsenal of rollers/stamps, more gesso textures, ghostly text, brulage collage and more.

Smoke and Mirrors


smoke painting on w/c paper

Who are these wispy apparitions?  Ghosts, or are they feathers on a bird’s wing?


There was unanimous feeling in Monday Muses that this one was angelic. It’s all smoke and mirrors, or at least smoke from a candle flame.

Here’s how we did it.  Pretty easy.

smoke1and no, we didn’t set fire to my studio or even smoke ourselves out!  It’s all in the angle, which you can see in the picture here.  The flame must kiss the paper.  Of course this is 140 lb CP watercolor paper, which is pretty durable.  If you used newsprint, you could have a conflagration.


smoke, “brulaged” collage paper, ink and pencil

If you lived back then. . . you would know the secrets we can only guess at now, looking into the mysteries of smoke, for a thread, a trail of crumbs, a set of stairs to lead us in.