Bharati Pawaskar interacts with the burgeoning pyrographer, Conrad Pinto
Does wood and fire go together? Nope. But here is someone who is trying to bring these two opposites together adding his wild imaginations to produce beautiful images. Yes, Conrad Pinto just loves it. A fine art graduate from Goa College of Art, Conrad Pinto had mastered in portraits. Landscapes and ‘mindscapes’ have remained two bold ways of his expression for over two decades. Now Conrad is venturing into a totally alien medium – Pyrography.
Though Pyrography is not new to the Western world, for India and Indians it may have to be introduced as a medium of artwork on wood. And Conrad Pinto may be called the pioneer of Pyrography in India as it is absolutely a new form of art to us Indians. But if Indians are not familiar with this form of art, how Conrad stumbled unto this, one may wonder. “It is just by fluke that I came across Pyrography while surfing on the net. It took me only a few more clicks to get to know what it was, and I instantly fell in love with it,” says Conrad. “Though no one is a born artist, all of us have in us an artist in incubation. Art could be developed in a right atmosphere. Sure, Pyrography was new for an artist like me but all I required was a specially designed tool – that had to be imported from Canada, a special wood (that is white, soft and light) and a lot of patience. Trial and error method led me to master this art in two years,” says he.
Elaborating on Pyrography, Conrad says, “Wood burning allows for a much bigger range of tones than can be achieved with pencil or charcoal. With a lot of patience one can achieve almost photographic detail. ‘Shivan’ is a light coloured wood available locally, which is suitable for Pyrography. Other light-coloured woods such as sycamore, ash, beech and birch are commonly used, as their fine grain is not obtrusive, and they produce the most pleasing contrast, but these are hard to find in India.” What is this all about and how is it done? Burning the wood in a slow, gradual fashion allows a great range of natural tones and shades to be achieved – beautiful subtle effects can create a picture in sepia tones, or strong dark strokes can make a bold, dramatic design. Varying the type of tip used, the temperature, or the way the iron is applied to the material, all create different effects. Solid-point machines offer a variety of tip shapes to create innovative designs. Wire-point machines allow the artist to shape the wire into a variety of configurations, to achieve broad marks or fine lines.
This work is time-consuming, done entirely by hand, with each line of a complex design drawn individually. After the design is burned in, the burned image is sometimes coloured or delicately tinted. Conrad was lucky to have been introduced to drawing and painting at an early age. His wooing with pencil, paper and paints, begun at the age of five, is still on, and at present he is falling more and more in love with the various forms of art – Pyrography being the latest. Conrad has tried doing it on a tender coconut shell as it is soft, white and lasts long if polished after the work and the results are dramatic, he says.
He is working on more than one front and will soon be exhibiting his exclusive Pyrography works. Let us wait and watch! For now you can view some of his art online at www.conradpinto.com.
What is Pyrography?
Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as pokerwork or wood burning. Pyrography means ‘writing with fire’ and is the traditional art of using a heated tip or wire to burn or scorch designs onto natural materials such as wood or leather. Burning can be done by means of a modern solid-point tool (similar to a soldering iron) or hot wire tool, or a more basic method using a metal implement heated in a fire, or even sunlight concentrated with a magnifying lens. Apart from wood, it is also practiced on leather, gourd, tagua (palm ivory) etc.
Courtesy: Goa Today magazine