Maegan Oberhardt

Wildlife Artist

Fumage & Fire on Paper

Maegan has a Bachelor of Design Arts with majors in Graphic design and Visual Arts. She grew in rural Queensland on a goat farm and had many animals.  That upbringing developed Meagan’s strong respect for all animal life and she observed a significant and worrying decline in our natural world. Her passion for animals and her natural artistic ability has led to her perfecting the art of painting with fire, also known as fumage technique. 

Meagan works with natural materials and utilises layers of soot from burning candles over her sketches of the animal’s portraits.  She painstakingly removes layers by etching with various tools. It is a delicate and lengthy process but the resulting animal portrait is well worth it, giving each one the voice it truly deserves.

Fumage is a surrealist art technique popularised in the mid 1930’s by Wolfgang Paalen & Salvador Dali.  In the 1930’s impressions were made by the smoke of a candle or kerosene lamp on a piece of paper or canvas.   Maegan took years to perfect the technique of dancing an open flame underneath paper to leave a layer of soot and etching it away with various tools.

Sometimes metallics such as copper, gold and silver are interwoven into the artwork. In refining this technique, Maegan utilises a heavy 425gsm cellulose archival paper.  She sketches a composite of the subject as a guideline to manage proportions for accuracy. Applying flame from several sources (such as candles, fossil fuels, wood etc.) carbon soot is then layered onto the sketch. Maegan then painstakingly removes layers by etching with various tools including brushes, hand tools and erasers. It is an extremely delicate and lengthy process.

Based in Victoria, Maegan was a semi-finalist in the Art Renewal Centre 2020 Salon competition.  She travels to Morpeth Gallery a few times a year to demonstrate the unique art of fumage in person.  Artworks purchased through Morpeth Gallery come with a USB presentation featuring Maegan working with fire.

Maegan’s greeting cards and Australian art gifts are available from Morpeth Gallery.