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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 35, Page One of One


Cate McCauley's Woodburned Illustrations
Adem Göksügür: Anatolian Artist

Cate McCauley's Woodburned Illustrations

Woman in Kitchen
by Cate McCauley

Pyrography on birch wood panel, 7 in. by 10 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

Cate's Creative Careers

American Cate McCauley has been working as an artist, photographer, and writer for 30 years. She notes that her specialty is "pen&ink illustration, a talent well-suited to pyrography."

She began what turned out to be a greatly varied career as an apprentice in a Providence, Rhode Island photography-art studio at the tender age of 16.

A later work experience was drawing maps of the bottom of the ocean when she worked as a Marine Research Assistant for the University of Rhode Island.

Besides working in graphic design and illustration throughout all these years, Cate was also a licensed Private Investigator who worked for the Federal Courts, District of Colorado.

As an off-shoot from her work in writing and research, Cate was asked to work as an investigator on the Oklahoma City Bombing case, an intense assignment that involved a lot of close work with the news press and ultimately witnessing the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Country Woodworks Sign
by Cate McCauley

Pyroengraving, carving, and color stain on outdoor solid pine wood sign,
approximately 36 in. wide by 24 in. high

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Aspects

Here Cate talks about the practical aspects of her pyrography illustrations:
Tools. "My equipment consists of a dual-control Nibs Woodburner and various Detail Master Pens. I highly recommend metal base pens, as others I've used have melted.... Burning at higher temperatures assures a longer life for the artwork."
Color."From time to time, I will use oil pencils to even out shading, or to add a slight hint of color, or white highlights."
Finish. "As for finishes, I do all by hand. My technique is to stain the outer edges of my artwork to emulate a matte, then a UV protective poly over coat, preferably clear satin."
Woods. "My biggest challenge is finding decent birch or maple plywood to burn on."
Frames. "I make my own frames, and will be experimenting with using unfinished wood flooring materials--good quality, lower cost than regular stock."

Zebra One
by Cate McCauley

Pyrography on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Another Career Twist

Cate McCauley's career path has never ceased to take her interesting places. Sometimes life takes all of us to unexpected places, and when that has happened to Cate, she has found ways to adapt to every situation with a creative approach. In this case, she tells how another career opportunity came unexpectedly as a result:

"Upon returning from Oklahoma, I spent two years taking care of my stepfather, who passed away last summer from cancer and stroke. During that time, and because we had to modify my parents' house for ADA compliance, I began working part time as a designer-project manager for a construction remodeling company. All those years of watching HGTV and This Old House have really paid off!"

Asian Child
by Cate McCauley, 2002

Pyrography and oil pencil highlights on birch plywood panel,
7 in. by 12 in.

Image courtesy of the artist

The Scituate Art Festival

Cate recently got word that she was accepted to exhibit her pyrographic illustrations at this year's annual Scituate Art Festival, a three-day event held on Columbus Day weekend in Scituate, described on their website as a New England village nestled in the northeast corner of Rhode Island. With an estimated 100,000 people visiting the festival each day, Cate is very excited about being among the 300 exhibitors accepted--in her case, in the art (not craft) category--at such an established festival that turns away many more.

The opportunity seemed of such urgency that Cate decided to postpone some other very important plans: "I am 46 years old, and was planning to get married (my first) this year, but getting ready for this art show (also my first) has taken priority."

Woodburned Illustrations Logo
by Cate McCauley

Image courtesy of the artist

Her Own Workshop

Above is one of three logos that are part of Cate McCauley's own website at catemcc.com. It was in September 2002 when multi-talented Cate added pyrographic illustration to her repertoire of creative endeavors. Although she has not made her living per se from her woodburned illustrations, she has sold pieces over the years. She is very happy to have found a place where she can do her work, especially her work on wood, and her plans for the next few months are to spend her time there creating enough pieces for her upcoming show in October. (In the months to come, look for the Cate McCauley Salon in the E-Museum to bring you her latest works from the Scituate Art Festival.)

"My workshop is in a rural part of western Rhode Island, and has been up and running for one and a half years now. It was a dream come true to find this place, perfectly suited to woodworking: 1500 sq. ft., with heat, an office and a bath."

Adem Göksügür: Anatolian Artist

Still Life of Basket with Pineapple
by Adem Göksügür

Pyrography and color on a framed plywood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

Born in 1962, artist Adem Göksügür is originally from Manisa, Akhisar, in Turkey. He graduated from primary school in his province of Akhisar but did his middle school and secondary (or high school) studies in Germany.

It was during Adem's high school years that one of his pictures was awarded a prize in an art competition in Germany, and this recognition increased his enthusiasm about art.

Adem completed studies in the German language, literature, and theology, and now resides once more in his native Turkey where he lives with his wife and three children and makes his living as a teacher.

On the side, in addition to studying oil painting, he repairs antique wooden objects. His love for wood eventually led him to pyrography, which is not a widely known technique in Turkey.

Still Life with Pears and a Basket of Cherries
by Adem Göksügür

Pyrography and color on wood slice

Image courtesy of the artist

Adem's Art and Inspiration

Adem Göksügür began his painting while in Germany, and that influence is apparent in his work, especially in his choice of some subjects, most notably the still lifes. However, that being said, his still lifes exhibit an unusual palette of colors, which has an intensity and richness that are very much his own. The subtle vibrancy of his colors is what distinguishes his work from that of Europe and America. Subtle also are his compositions where there is no one focus and many exquisitely rendered fine details that keep the viewer at a distance from his subjects. Adem's beautiful works are also lonely ones--a little melancholy--showing cities, waterways, and street scenes at calm and quiet times, nearly devoid of people and their 'hustle and bustle'.

Perhaps, in part at least, it is this palette and style that draw more on "the Edirnekari technique, a form of antique Anatolian art," which he considers one of his influences. The name of the technique refers to the westernmost Turkish city of Edirne where this technique originated.

For his pyrography, Adem feels his inspiration comes from the arts of the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. The Seljuk Turks ruled Anatolia or Asia Minor from the latter part of the 11th Century. By 1243, the Mongols invaded and took power, and from the 13th to the 15th Centuries, Asia Minor was then gradually taken over by the Ottoman Turks and remained as the center of the once vast Ottoman Empire until the establishment of the Republic of Turkey after World War I.

Istanbul at Sunrise
by Adem Göksügür

Pyrography and color on framed plywood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

A Rich Tradition

Anatolia is from the Greek word for sunrise. Anatolia is a word you will see often when reading about the art and culture of Turkey. If you look at a map of Turkey, you will observe that Turkey is at a very important crossroads. You will see on the far western part bordering Greece and Bulgaria, the important cultural city of Edirne (which we'll see more about later) and right at the tip on the Straits of Bosphorus, the famed city of Istanbul. This small part of Turkey is the European side.

On the other side of the Bosphorus is the main part of the country--the Asian side. On this side you will find the other, Asian half of the city of Istanbul connected to its European half by ferries crossing the Bosphorus. The Asian side of Turkey is where the capital of Ankara is located, as well as another important cultural city--Bursa--which is located just inland near the Sea of Marmara. South of Bursa and slightly west is Adem's city of Manisa in the province of Akhisar.

The name Anatolia refers to the Asian part of Turkey and is usually synonymous with the term Asia Minor, used to designate the extreme western part of Asia. Turkey has the Black Sea on the north, the Mediterranean on the south, the Aegean on the west connected to the Straits of Bosphorus by the Sea of Marmara. Since antiquity, it has been invaded and conquered and inhabited by numerous peoples among them the Greeks and Romans, Hittites, Armenians, and Mongols, and the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, each culture leaving its own legacy of art and architecture.

Adem Göksügür
The artist working in his studio

Image courtesy of the artist

Technical Aspects

Tool. Above Adem can be seen working with his electric tool. He describes it as a rudimentary one, which one of his students made for him. Although not visible in the picture, Adem says he, in fact, does have a transformer to regulate the heat. He says that he has seen other tools on the internet, but that those are not available in Turkey.
Wood. Adem works on plywood panels, as well as on wood slices from oak, plane, walnut, and chestnut trees.
Color and Finish. He applies antique dyes and varnish, which he uses to repair wooden things, to pyrographic pictures. In his oil paintings, Adem chose to avoid using synthetic lacquers as a finish, and instead uses shellac, which is obtained by melting aniline dye, pine resin, and bone in alcohol.
Frames. Adem applies matte colors and a patina on his frames for an antique look to go with the type of pictures he does.

White Horse
by Adem Göksügür

Pyrography and color on framed plywood panel

Image courtesy of the artist


Following is an excerpt from an on-line article on Turkish woodcarving from a tourism newsletter* describing the history of Edirnekari, a traditional Turkish technique of painting on wood that is part of the culture that has shaped Adem Göksügür's work.

"A new approach that gradually gained acceptance in the Ottoman period was painting on wood. From the 15th century onwards, decorations began to be painted on architectural elements as well as on smaller wooden objects. Interesting examples date to the 18th and 19th centuries in the secular architecture of Topkapi Palace and of such urban centers as Edirne and Bursa. Among these examples, the large cabinets, corner cupboards, and niches were influenced by the forms of their counterparts made of marble in the great palaces."

"Edirne was an important center of woodcarving, and the technique of painting on wood known as Edirnekari spread to Istanbul and other regions throughout the Empire. Using this painting technique, in which green was predominant as a background color, various articles of everyday use such as drawers, boxes and chairs were produced, some of which were lacquered."

*From the November-December 2000 NEWSPOT, an English language newsletter published on line by the Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, Turkey, at http://www.byegm.gov.tr/yayinlarimiz/NEWSPOT/2000/Nov-Dec/N12.htm.

A 2004 Exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey
With pyrographic works by Adem Göksügür

Image courtesy of the artist

Exhibitions of Adem's Works

Adem has exhibited twice in his own city of Manisa: in 1999 and as recently as 2004, both times at the Akhisar Municipal Cultural Center. He has also exhibited three times in Istanbul: in 2002 and again in 2003 at the Üsküdar Altunizade Cultural Center, and in 2004 at the Beyoglu Municipal Art Gallery (see photograph above).

Portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
by Adem Göksügür

(The honorary name "Ataturk" means "Father of the Turks")
Ataturk deposed the sultan of Turkey to establish the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Ataturk was the new country's first president.

Pyrography and oil painting on framed plywood panel

Image courtesy of the artist


Many of the parts for this piece on Adem Göksügür's works were either adapted or quoted from his own very well done, bilingual (Turkish and English) website--www.goksugur.com.

See additional intriguing examples of his works on display in the Adem Göksügür Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

Read an interesting, well illustrated article about the history of woodcarving in Turkey, including the history of Edirnekari painting quoted above, in the November-December 2000 NEWSPOT, an English language newsletter published on line by the Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, Turkey, at http://www.byegm.gov.tr/yayinlarimiz/NEWSPOT/2000/Nov-Dec/N12.htm.

The Author

Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala in 1975-1977. 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 ninth year of articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), started January 1997, and the eighth 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.

2005, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.