Focus on - Burning Night

FOCUSING ON:  'Burning Night' - negative burning on a poplar slab

approx 26 inches long
©Sue Walters 2012

I started experimenting with, what I call, 'Negative Burning' way back in 2002. I decided to burn some pine frames entirely black and then see if I could use a burr to etch away various layers to make a picture. Normally a pyrographic piece is made in the 'positive'...the subject is burnt dark on a lighter 'canvas'. In this case my experiments were focused on creating a burnt picture in the negative...the picture is being created by revealing the various layers pine laying under the burnt surface. Think of scratchboard and you'll get the idea of where I'm going.
'Back on Black' Part of my negative body study series.

I was surprised at how subtle the tone shifted the deeper I travelled through the burnt layer and I managed to create body studies that were quite realistic. This subtle removal of the layers was exciting to me...I loved the quality of the studies... but I did realize the subtle removal of burning was quite an artistic stretch, one that some people would struggle with.
My next experiments focused on using negative burning to make a frame for a friend's birthday. She has just visited New York City and I thought a burning of the skyline at night would be a nice gift. This time the method I used was similar to my body studies but the technique was much, much simpler. So simple in fact that I thought even a novice burner would have a good shot at producing a very creditable nighttime cityscape.

The original cityscape negative burnt frame.

I promised one day I'd get around to teaching this technique.'s taken a lot longer than I'd hoped, but I finally got there:) I managed to visit New York myself this year and decided to use the experience to create 'Burning Night'. I video taped the experience as it happened and I have put it together on a DVD called, 'Burning Night - the Art of Negative Burning'. It took me about 4 months longer than I'd hoped to put this DVD together. As alsways I was keen to edit the information so that the viewer receives maximum learning for their viewing.