Master Fire Artist Zachary Aronson Reflects on a Life Dedicated to Art

The fire art of Zachary Aronson is well-known for its beauty, mystery, and innovation. With only a blow torch or a flamethrower, Zachary creates portraits and sculptures that mesmerize viewers and challenge their conceptions of what fire, traditionally a force of destruction, can do. As more of his work is exhibited in galleries and in the lobbies of hotels and as Zachary dazzles his subjects at live-event parties, he is taking the art world to a new frontier, one where anything is possible.

While Zachary has spent the last ten years developing his ability to paint with fire, his artistic background goes back to his childhood. “I’ve been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil,” Zachary remembers. “I was probably ‘that kid,’ the one that drew incessantly on walls with markers. Thankfully, I had very tolerant parents, who recognized my potential and nurtured it. They didn’t complain when I filled the kitchen with a sculpture I made with plastic shopping bags.”

Zachary laughs when he remembers another sculpture he made. “I was only five, as I recall. I was walking around the house and for some reason only had one slipper on. My mom told me to go find the other one, so I hunted around the house for it. I couldn’t find it anywhere, but Mom wanted me to have two slippers on, not one. So, I went into my dad’s office and grabbed some printer paper, tape, and scissors. I sat down on the floor and made my first sculpture: a paper slipper that looked exactly like the real one. I put it on and showed it to my mom, who loved it. She still has it today. I was always like that: if I couldn’t find something I needed, I made it.”

Zachary taught himself to draw when he was eight by studying the work of Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. “I could see how incredible their drawings were and wanted so much to be able to create like they did,” he states. “I studied their pictures, trying to see how they had achieved their shading and what kinds of techniques they had used. I was so interested in Leonardo da Vinci that when I was ten, all I wanted for my birthday was for my dad to fly me to New York City to see his show. I didn’t get to go, but it shows you what kind of kid I was.”

Zachary also had a bit of an entrepreneurial bent, evidenced by the time he decided to sell his art in a hotel’s lobby. “I walked in, set up, and politely began asking people if they would like to buy my art.” He laughs. “I did pretty well, too, until the manager came up and kicked me out. Oh well, right? It’s just further proof that my art was never about cultivating a hobby. Instead, I knew it was how I would spend my life.”

As Zachary got older, he experimented with different mediums, including wood, ceramics, plaster, and even welding. “I was thirteen when I welded my first steel sculpture. I remember holding the finished work in my hands and enjoying how it felt, so sleek and powerful in its way.”

When he turned 18, he got one of the biggest thrills of his young life. “I went to Pietrasanta in Italy for a month. If you don’t know it, Pietrasanta is a town full of artists, and I went there to learn how to carve marble and stone,” Zachary relates. “I was looking to expand, learn, and create in any way possible. It was a really cool time for me because I was able to choose the marble for my sculpture, and it came from the same mountain as Michael Angelo’s David.”

His first love has always been faces, seeing in them beauty and mystery. “I like the idea of trying to capture someone’s essence in a portrait,” Zachary shares. “There’s an exchange of energy, perhaps, that happens when I draw or paint a face, and I am very drawn to it. I see into the person’s soul and use my blow torch or flamethrower to paint it onto the wood. It’s a mystical process for me, one that touches me and, I think, the model very deeply.”

Today, Zachary uses his passions for art and fire to create unique portraits that surprise and captivate the viewer. “It’s been a lifetime of constant innovation, of always pushing forward and refusing to accept that art – and fire – has any limits. That’s why I am where I am now. I am following where fire takes me and will continue to learn from it and innovate even more as I create my fire portraits.”

For more information on Zachary Aronson and his ability to paint portraits using only fire, please see:



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