Mike Holder

Mike Holder- Pyrography Artist

San Diego has been my home for most of my life. Shortly after graduating from Grossmont High in 1963 I left for the Great Northwest and settled in Portland, Oregon then later in Washington State, building my home out of the woods.

I worked in advertising throughout my career. With a camera close by I always took photographs I could use in advertising I created. Even to this day I love to capture an image of something or someone beautiful. Throughout the last 40 plus years I have taken pictures for many well known companies in both the fashion and product industries. I used my equipment to make a living but the outdoors remained my deepest desire. God's creations have always fascinated me and I took pictures of scenic views, mountains, lakes and streams. When the opportunity presented itself I photographed the wildlife around me.

After retiring my wife suggested that I begin using my extensive photo collection in some way to work with wood. Like most children I had used a wood-burning tool and enjoyed doing so in my younger years. I can't draw very well but found that using the computer to convert my photos and other works of art in to line drawings, I could make patterns that I could wood-burn and recreate that same image more than once.

I have been working exclusively with wood, burning images on Baltic Birch until 3 years ago. I started creating the same kind of images on recycled rag, watercolor paper. I was introduced to ink dyes commonly used to paint gourds at a gourd festival. Then I thought if they could color gourds with this ink I should be able to use them on wood. I began coloring my woodwork bringing exciting vivid colors into my images. When used on paper or wood these inks open a new door to create fine art in an entirely new way.

Ink as a coloring agent is archival and the vivid colors will last even in direct sunlight. It is what has attracted buyers to the Borrego Springs Art Institute where I have had many pictures sold over the last few years. This past February I was featured in Creative Woodworking and Craft magazine in a full page article.

Recently I have been approached by the manufacturer of the inks to help them introduce these inks to the fine art market. I will be working with distributors of “Stewart Superior Ink” to help introduce an old product to a new worldwide market.

Member of the Year 2014 Borrego Springs Art Guild
Wood-burning, "Pyrography", has always been something I've enjoyed since I was a child. When I first tried to recreate some of my photographs at first they were ok but just that, ok. I attended a gourd festival and watched them color what to me was otherwise a ho-hum look of a plain gourd. But adding color to it made it "pop" and I decided right then that I should do that with my wood-burnings. Wow what a difference that made. I began showing my work in galleries and some of the pictures I had done and not sold before began to sell. People began to talk magazines and newspapers wanted to know what I was doing and how and that began the road I'm on today. My work has improved (or so I'm told) and sales have greatly improved so I must be doing something right.
I have limited my sales to the very small community I live in and have done well but now it is time to expand my horizons and open up my exposure area. I want to reach out to other markets and see what happens. This is very exciting for me to watch as the interest grows for something new, vibrant and open up a new style of art that has not been seen before. I hope you enjoy my art work as much as I enjoy creating each of these pieces of work.


Pyrography a different approach

This is a design seen on a pot I photographed many years ago in Arizona. It is an actual design seen on a pot.

Buffalo Reflection “Buffalo Reflection”

I began this piece trying my hand at creating a herd of buffalo and an ink run on one of the legs lead me to get a little more abstract than what is normal for me. By reversing the top image on the bottom of the image and quite literately connecting the lines this is the result. I liked it so much I am working on a few others with this abstract kind of look.

Cactus Wren “Cactus Wren”

I live in the desert and love to do images of the birds that inhabit my part of the world. This one I have done a number of ways and this is my favorite. It shows off his habitat as well as the bird itself.