Zachary Aronson Dazzles with Fire Painting at Beverly Hills Party

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A party in one of the ritziest neighborhoods in California will always be memorable, but last night was made especially so by the talents of pyrographer Zachary Aronson . As the world’s only artist who paints with fire, his ability to craft exquisitely detailed portraits using flamethrowers and blow torches promised to make an incredible night even more spectacular. 

The evening’s events were already in full swing when I pulled up at a truly stunning mansion on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills, and after mingling for a few minutes, I headed for the backyard to see if I could spot Zachary and get in on the fun. As with anything interesting, if you follow the crowd, you’ll eventually find what – or who – you’re looking for. There were already quite a few partygoers gathered around Zachary, who had begun working on a portrait of a lovely woman sitting a few feet away. I walked up and watched as he used a flamethrower to paint the curls in her hair on an 8-foot wood panel. The flame was darkening some areas and bringing a more three-dimensional look to the portrait.

Zachary, while very professional, was also very relaxed and chatted with people as he worked on the picture. “You’d think otherwise, but I’ve never burned myself,” he said in answer to someone’s question. “Or the model.” Everyone laughed. “I’m joking, but seriously, I’m not a pyromaniac. I don’t play with fire. I’ve actually got a healthy appreciation for both its destructive and creative elements.”

The guy on my left asked what Zachary did if he messed up, making all of us laugh again. “Well, that’s actually a good question,” Zachary replied. “Fire is not like paint, which adds on to the canvas, meaning that you can just paint over the mistake. With fire, you’re actually taking away from the wood, so I have to be very careful and take the layers away gradually. I’ve developed my technique a lot since my days at CalArts, and I have a lot of control over the flame.”

“Do you usually paint outside?” I ventured, curious about where Zachary could safely paint with a blow torch.

“Not exclusively,” he answered, shifting focus to work on the model’s mouth. “I often paint inside of people’s homes or have my clients come to my LA studio. It’s really pretty safe to use blow torches inside of a home, as I’ve learned from years of experience and from fire marshals.  Still, I prefer to use my flamethrower outside.”

I smiled at that and excused myself to go find another margarita and to do some more mingling. An hour or so later, I ventured back and found that Zachary had made a lot of remarkable progress in a short amount of time. The woman’s nose and irises were burned into what I learned was mahogany, and I could see that the portrait was rapidly taking shape.

Zachary was talking with another woman about where he had shown his work. “Eight galleries so far,” he confirmed, “and I’ve done many live events like this one. They are a lot of fun for both me and attendees. I like meeting new people, and they have never seen anything like this before.”

“Where on Earth did you get the idea to use a flamethrower to make portraits?” That question had been on my mind all evening.

“Yes, it’s a surprising medium, I agree.” Zachary was putting the finishing touches on the woman’s neck, leaving a graceful image that blended easily with the rest of the portrait. “Back at USC, I didn’t have any paper for art class one day, so I grabbed some scrap wood and used that instead. The best ideas can be born out of desperation, so I found myself with a completely new way of expressing myself. As good as I’ve gotten, I think there’s still a lot more I can do with fire.”

Within another twenty minutes, Zachary was done, and the crowd applauded enthusiastically as the model stood next to the portrait. Looking closely at the details, I could only marvel at how fire had produced such a sophisticated picture. California, of course, is known for its devastating forest fires, yet here was proof that it could be used for elegance and creativity. 

As Zachary began packing up his supplies, I asked him one more question. “Do you think there are any other new frontiers in art to be explored?”

“That will always depend on the artist,” he responded. “So long as we have people who are willing to think differently and who are not afraid to test the limits or definitions of mediums, I think we’ll see more artists bring us the unusual and the beautiful. I certainly hope so. Doing so enriches all of us and leaves us forever changed, in a good way, don’t you think?”

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






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