An Artist’s Year in Review During a Pandemic

Most people struggled with what they should do with themselves at the beginning of the pandemic. Freelance artist, Zachary Aronson was no different. “I admit I was a little lost during that time because I almost exclusively do live portraits with fire,” Zach explains. “No one could even see their friends during that time.” This was difficult for me to process. Especially, when you are the kind of artist that equates productivity with creating and producing art. For portrait artists that feel the need to make and create this was definitely a tricky time and an unusual time to try and find inspiration.

A Break in the Timeline

For his entire life, Zach has always had a stream of artistic projects on display to track his progress. Even his art from childhood is kept in his home, dated with the names of his subjects on the back. This time really forced him to go through a shift where he had to find other ways to measure his productivity. “As a visual artist, once you make something, you have this object that lasts forever and I love that,” Zach explains. “Being okay with not being productive all the time was a major piece of my journey this past year and a half.” Spending time wisely doesn’t always have to result in something tangible. 

Finding Value in Other Forms of Creativity

Zach explains that he did what most other people did. He spent some time practicing self-love: writing more, connecting with nature, and learning a little on guitar. During this time, he came to the realization that there were times as a youth that he might have used art as a defense mechanism of sorts. At times he thinks his art might have served as a crutch to have more social interaction. “I grew out of that, of course,” Zach explains. “I think of art as more of a tool now than a crutch and that my art is a product of being social.”

“This was all just at the beginning of the pandemic,” Zach says laughing. Zach eventually got bored enough and curious enough to try the “Not a Flamethrower” flamethrower on his art pieces. “This was during a time when I couldn’t go out and do what I love, he says. “I couldn’t do my preferred type of art where I meet people, so I just started to really push the boundaries with different techniques.” 

Working Around a Pandemic

“It’s been interesting and bizarre going back into the world, trying to return to portraits with masks,” Zach admits. “I have a series of masked portraits.” It serves as a snapshot or documentation of the times.” Zach continues to proceed with caution, being responsible and safe. He is grateful that coming together hasn’t harmed him or anyone else. It’s been a tough year, but a year of more self-discovery as well.

Return to Yourself

“Otherwise, this past year has been pretty good for me, getting back out there, Zach shares. “My art is where I feel good, but it was good to know that I could break free from it and pursue other things besides art. In the past, I have felt like I needed my art.” He thoughtfully continues, “Now, I know that I don’t have to equate productivity with creating. I can just create because I know it serves as a tool for interaction and for giving the gift of art. I feel at home, so it’s good to be back home and in that space where I can connect with people again.”

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



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