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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 29, Page One of Three


Page One:
- Introducing Dragos Ciutacu
- Vladislav Kostenko: Fine Knives
- François Peeters: Pyrography in Bas Relief

Page Two:
- Antique Plaque of a Young Lady at Graduation
- Abdulwahab Mihoub: Looking Back and Going Forward
- Michael Janson: Experimenting with Variations on a Theme
- Abby Levine: Delving Into Political Satire

Page Three:
- Adriano Colangelo: Applied Art
- Dino Muradian: Music Fest in Germany
- Paul Chojnowski: Solo Show in New York City

Introducing Dragos Ciutacu

The Little Beggar Girl
by Dragos Ciutacu, 2004

Pyrography on wood panel

After a painting of the same name by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

Image courtesy of Dino Muradian

An Apprenticeship in Pyrographic Art

Romanian artist Dragos Ciutacu lives and works in Bucharest where he is presently learning the technique of pyrography under the expert tutelage of the very well known Dino Muradian, whose work has graced the pages of this e-zine on many occasions since the premiere issue in January 1997.

The work above is one of Dragos's latest works. It is after a painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and, if you are curious, you can see the original painting at the following link: Illusions Gallery.

Dino, who has had many requests for classes since he returned from the United States to Romania a few years ago, is particularly proud of Dragos Ciutacu.

Vladislav Kostenko: Fine Knives

Three Knives
by Vladislav Kostenko

Pyroengraved detailing on ivory handles of hunting knives

Image courtesy of the Vladislav Kostenko website

Vladislav Kostenko

Image courtesy of the Vladislav Kostenko website

Thanks to IAPA member Michael Janson, another new talent is being introduced this issue: Russian knife maker Vladislav Kostenko.

Vladislav Kostenko was born in 1967. He began making his knives in 1996, engraving, carving, and where he uses ivory handles, pyroengraving scenes on the ivory. Vladislav is a member of the Association of Artists of Russia. He has a one-page, very beautifully done webpage displaying still more of his fine knives with carving, engraving, and pyrographic ornament in wonderful variety.

The text is all in Russian but just link here to the Vladislav Kostenko website and click on the pictures there to enjoy an outstanding full-screen display.

Three Knives, detail of pyrography
by Vladislav Kostenko

Pyroengraving on ivory knife handles;
engraving on the metal work

Image courtesy of the Vladislav Kostenko website

François Peeters: Pyrography in Bas Relief

by François Peeters

Pyroengraving and carving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

An Artistic Family

It was thanks to François Peeters that IAPA member Ivan Govaerts got his start in pyrography. Ivan tells all about that meeting at an arts and crafts fair in his own story published here a year ago in Pyrograffiti 23. As it turns out, François got his start in pyrography in much the same way.

Here is his story as translated from the Dutch by Ivan. "François was born in Mortsel (Near Antwerp in Belgium) on the 17th of May 1941 and was raised along with two sisters. [For about the last 30 years, however, he has been living in Battel, near Malines, only a mile or so from his friend Ivan.]

In François's family, drawing was something that was always present in the male genes. François only went to elementary school, but took some evening classes to become a carpenter. His father was a decorative interior painter who did faux finishes, so François learned to imitate wood and marble finishes from him. Because of his love for the paintbrush, François started to do oil paintings on canvas and watercolor paintings. There was always some drawing or painting activity in the family despite the lack of any academic education. François's uncle even rendered paintings that were copies of Peter Paul Rubens' work.

Owl in Flight
by François Peeters

Pyroengraving and carving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

As a young boy François started to draw with an ordinary pencil, but later, with the help of a traveling salesman who visited his parents, François progressed to art pencils. Later he developed his own style using black oil pastel in combination with India ink (using a Rotring pen [aka a Rapidograph pen] ) and working in pointillism, which he still uses. In 1970, François was exhibiting his paintings at a hobby fair and there he met a pyrographic artist. At once it was the beginning of a whole new direction and hobby.

by François Peeters

Pyroengraving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Aspects

"Most of the time," Ivan writes, "François tries to use wood slices with bark on the edges and irregularly shaped pieces of found wood. Older people, children, and animals are his favorite subjects!!! He is always very creative with discarded materials, as you can see on his François Peeters website, and he finds inspiration in almost everything. On his site, by way of a posthumous homage to his father from whom he inherited his talents and learned many skills, François displays two paintings, dated 1950, done by his father in an unusual technique that the elder developed himself."

Of late François has been experimenting with a combination of pyrography and relief carving. This is how he works in his own (Dutch) words translated by Ivan: "When I do pyrographic work in relief, I proceed as follows: First, I make a drawing with pencil just as I would normally for a pyrographic work. With a wood mill [router], I remove the wood around the drawing, staying 1 cm [about half an inch] away from the lines. In places where more wood has to remain, to carve shapes, for instance, such as trees or plants like those you can see in the picture of the elephant, I have to alter the depth. The elephant was drawn on the wood much as sculptors prepare their sculptures. It is necessary to establish the correct level of depth for each plane of the picture. I can tell that my training as a carpenter is very opportune. Without boasting I can say that I have the gift to observe before I start a piece."

Untitled detail
by François Peeters

Pyroengraving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

A Special Pyrographic Relief Technique

"In some other works of mine, I use a technique I developed to make a sort of bas relief without carving or the use of machines. Using a pyro pen that is not too hot, I press the soft wood to create a different level or plane. When pyroengraving a horse head, for example, you can use this technique to make a bridle that feels real. In doing a man's portrait like the one above, for instance, it is possible to give dimension to some individual hairs or to give the ears or the glasses more depth, etc. "

"This look has become my trademark, and I get all sorts of positive reactions from the people who see my work, because this technique produces such a lifelike effect."

Duck, detail
by François Peeters

Pyroengraving and carving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

Closing Notes

Be sure and visit the François Peeters website to see more of his work and read more of his story. It is nicely presented in three languages (Dutch, French, and English). Look for the François Peeters salon in the E-Museum, too.

Ivan, who graciously served as intermediary by translating from Dutch to English to make this story come about, has this to say about his friend: "François is . . . a great artist who is always very polite and helpful to other artists. I can look at his work for hours and he gives me the courage to go on."

by François Peeters

Pyroengraving on wood plaque

Image courtesy of the artist

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2004, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.