The Art Of Soot Painting

Developed in 1998 by artist Tripti Agarwal, soot painting adds a new dimension to art in the 21st Century.

Soot painting is an effort to bring together art and soul. Unlike any other form of art here fire is the brush and fire is the paint. The artist proceeds with instinct using visual comprehension and skill in a style where the brush and canvas have departed from their traditional roles. They have switched sides. It is the canvas that moves around the stationary brush in a reversal of the artistic process producing interesting results.

After dabbling in fine arts for nearly fifteen years the artist has arrived at this form of expression. The uniqueness of this art is that even the artist cannot reproduce her own strokes. Each work is arrived at after a lot of patience as fire consumes many a piece.

 The artist has had several exhibitions across India.

The Story

" The story of soot paintings began in December 1998 , when I was playing with a candle and some paper trying to create soot impressions. Initial trial and error threw up some miniatures made on small pieces of paper. About 25 paintings were made in such a manner which got some enthusiastic response. The work was raw and experimental. My first attempt of soot work was however a nascent one , as I did not go back to it for almost a year. Until in January 2001.I was persuaded by my aunt to try my hand again at this unusual medium , that I had chanced upon.

This time I took the medium more seriously , and made efforts to actually control the strokes of the flame. This led to the creation of about 70 more paintings .Each painting was a fascinating experience as the forms delicately appeared on paper.

The only drawback being that the soot was powdery and fragile and consequently very difficult to preserve. Even a single touch of a finger could spoil hours of painstaking work. Permanency was important particularly because I had started holding exhibitions countrywide. At the same time my search for a bigger and permanent painting made me switch to canvas .

I experimented with a variety of gases to preserve the soot. This however led to nowhere .Not willing to give up, I also searched the net for a solution. Overcoming innumerable obstacles and persisting with intensive research I finally arrived at a fixative. And I was able to create my first preserved work in October 2001."


  • First soot painting: 19th Nov. 1998            First Soot painting on canvas :  Oct. 2001

  • Smallest soot painting: 4'' x 4"                   Largest soot painting: 36" x 24" 

  • Total no. made: 225                                     Total sold: 100  

  • Lowest price : Rs. 2,500                              Highest price : Rs. 25,000 

  • No. of exhibitions : 8                                    First Exhibition: 14th-15th April 2001, New Delhi