PLUNA: "A Particular Point of View"
Ernie Thompson: In Memoriam
PLUNA is the nom d'artiste for Spaniard Juan José López Romano, who was born in 1968 in Carabanchel, a city in the outskirts of Madrid. PLUNA is a self-taught artist, who likes expressing himself artistically by interpreting what he sees around him with his own particular, distinct point of view.
Even as a child growing up in Orduña (in the region of Vizcaya), PLUNA experimented in various mediums such as painting and ceramics. By the age of 18, he returned to Madrid where he became very active in pursuing his art and furthering his studies. He began participating in different non-governmental associations and organizations by contributing a large quantity of illustrations for posters and publications in each respective field.
Over time, PLUNA worked to develop expertise in his oil painting, drawing, and pyrography.
In 1998, he decided to set up his studio in Mantiel, a small town of the Alcarria region, where he could take in the influence of the rural world. He was residing and working there until 2005 when he returned to Madrid.
Manzanas (Apples), Still Life
Reja y espinas (grating and thorns)
PLUNA's introduction to pyrography came when he was in school. He was already painting and drawing and doing other manual arts, when his teacher took an interest in hm, taught him pyrography, and even gave him use of a pyrotool to get him started. PLUNA didn't begin to do any serious work in this technique, however, until recent years when he went to live in a small town where, perhaps because it was a rural environment, he feels, the direct contact with the elements, the wood and the fire, sparked his imagination. In the beginning, he worked in a very traditional way, but later he began to experiment with colors and textures and, as a result, became increasingly passionate about it the more he learned.
Reja y espinas, the beginning of the process
Pyrography and colored pencil on wood panel
Image courtesy of Juan José López
PLUNA now uses the pyrography tool shown above, which is a Spanish tool of the brand name Reig. He went through various others before getting to this one, he says, but, even though it has temperature control, he generally uses it at maximum, at least when he's not working with a new point. This tool works on 220 volts, which is the voltage used throughout Spain. Most of the time PLUNA uses the universal point; however, he often files it to make a little notch to personalize it for his own special effects. Occasionally he uses the flat point or the round one.
PLUNA says that for wood he uses Poplar board with a thickness of one centimeter (about half an inch) to keep the wood from warping when heated. Poplar is soft and its color is light enough to offer good contrast. "I have tried all the woods I've found," he says, "but I've stayed with the ones that have the lightest color. Dark woods or woods that have a lot of resin (Juniper) or oil (Olive wood) have a beautiful grain and also are usually hard and do not warp; however, they darken a lot over time to the extent that they nearly lose the (pyrography) drawing. Even so, I don't rule out any of them."
Series of four images, showing the process
Pyrography and colored pencil on wood panel
Image courtesy of Juan José López
On his web site pluna.red-sur.com, in addition to his pyrography section, PLUNA has a very nice section devoted to a number of excellent posters for his many shows, a section on his oil paintings, another on his drawings, and even one for guest artists. In his pyrography section, PLUNA demonstrates his process through a few different works, one of which—the "Doorknocker"—is shown above.
Back in 2008, PLUNA started his own blog, which you can visit at pirograbarte.blogspot.com/. You can see some good shots of his Reig pyrography tool there, as well.
Patio Central (Central Courtyard)
The lead image above of the dog is anomalous, thematically speaking, since PLUNA's works generally seem to fall into three strong categories: the first, architectural, which he calls "Rincones (Corners)" (including views of buildings, courtyards, balconies, and street scenes, as well as ornamental details like the window with the "Grating and Thorns" and the "Doorknocker"); the second, kitchen still lifes; and the third, fountains. This last category is remarkable in both technique and concept for its many fine examples of water in context.
Readers may remember that PLUNA was introduced here briefly in the last issue of Pyrograffiti announcing his exhibition Water.
It was back in the year 2000, when he first took his pseudonym of PLUNA, that he started showing his works—mainly the ones in oil and pyrography—both nationally and internationally. Today PLUNA's works can be found in private collections, as well as in a number of city halls and cultural centers throughout Spain, and also in private collections in Germany, France, Holland, and Austria.
Fuente de Armejón
In 2008, in a tourist center in a little town called Buitrago de Lozoya, not far from Madrid, PLUNA had a private show called,"Fuentes grabadas a fuego" ("Fountains Engraved in Fire"). Pyrograffiti readers may remember this little town, which has become internationally known since a small museum was established there housing a collection of some 60 unusual works by Picasso, including one in pyrography exhibited at this link in the E-Museum.
PLUNA's technique is an enigma of sorts. Its palpably rustic nature, instead of detracting from the reality as one might intuitively suppose, actually creates part of the nostalgia that conjures the feeling for his viewers that they are present there inside of his picture. Although his compositions are devoid of humans, they do not lack for a sense of human presence. The feeling that someone has just left or is about to return, or that the viewer is there inside the space or could touch the flowing water or reach for the cup hanging next to it, is captivating.
See more excellent examples of PLUNA's pyrographic works in his exhibit in the E-Museum.
After undergoing a series of surgeries, Ernie Thompson, longtime member of the International Association of Pyrographic Artists (IAPA) died quietly at home on Friday, the 23rd of January 2009. His last surgery had seemed successful, and he was at home recovering, about to undergo another, when he passed away unexpectedly.
Ernie Thompson is remembered by the IAPA group as a dependable and frequent participant, always supportive and helpful in any discussion. He could usually be counted on to add a funny comment, too, that would bring a folksy, common-sense perspective to an issue—along with a chuckle.
Cheryl Burtch's comment—"He was a true gentleman with a great sense of humor"—was representative of the sentiments of many. Sue Burne reminisced about how much fun it was for her and his other friends from the group to chat with Ernie. She also noted that he was a good pyrographer, and provided the link for the album of his works, which are at www.picturetrail.com/erniethompson.
All of us from IAPA express our condolences to his wife Noreen. Ernie Thompson will be greatly missed at IAPA.
The AuthorKathleen M. Garvey Menéndez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala in 1975–1977 under Carmela Flores. Her sister, Artist Sharon H. Garvey, later joined her there to collaborate on a pyrography project designed to promote this art form in the United States by means of a didactic book and a pyrography tool made by Navarro of Mexico.
Thanks to the internet, this is the thirteenth year of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the twelfth year of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art, which opened its virtual doors January 1998. In March of that year, the International Association of Pyrographic Artists (IAPA) was formed and members began meeting on line. Linked from the E-Museum's Café Flambé, which hosts the IAPA meetings, is the Yahoo Groups uniting_pyrographers mailing list, member list, and chat forum set up for IAPA members by IAPA Cofounder Ken "Mixo" Sydenham of Warragul, Victoria, Australia.
© 2009, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.