Zachary Aronson: How to Create Something from Nothing

Although having the most professional and expensive tools and materials to create your art would be helpful. It’s not as important as you might think. As cliche as it sounds, creativity comes from within. That’s why we are asking the successful artist, Zachary Aronson, what struggling artists can do to fulfill their creative desires without breaking the bank. Zach has been painting with fire, using blowtorches and flamethrowers to burn artwork into the wood. He explains, “I focus primarily on portraiture and figurative work. I create all of my portraits freehand, from life, using only fire. I’ve developed this unique art form that I have dubbed open-flame pyrography over the last 10 years.”

Zach always knew he’d be an artist. “I decided I would be an artist at five years old,” Zach explains. “I just started working with materials that were available to me such as printer paper and scotch tape.” This method kept evolving until the artist stumbled upon his current medium by mistake in college after forgetting to bring paper to class. 

Zach used a torch to burn a silhouette into a sculpture. The results were so intriguing that he started using wood panels instead of paper. After trying to draw on wood with lacquer on it and getting almost no results, the artist picked up a small butane torch and proceeded to illustrate. This became the artist’s tool rather than pencils or brushes. This ultimately helped him create portraits with increasing complexity. 

Zach says he now has a general understanding of the reaction the wood will have based on the grain. Although, it still surprises him which areas burn faster. Zach explains that the entire process is very immediate and instinctual. “There’s no formula,” Zach shares. “It’s all a matter of spontaneous decisions because he is still amazed at how the wood reacts. Somehow his pieces are still consistent in the end.”

After accidentally discovering this medium, Zach explains, “I know in my mind that I have the tools I need. I don’t need a conscious plan. I can trust that it’s happening. I don’t have to really think about it.” This came from not having the essentials he thought he needed in the beginning. 

Zach likes working with his hands and finding materials to manipulate. “Working with fire was just an extension of working with what was available,” Zach explains. “This was the most efficient way to create - the tool that made the most sense to me.” He continues, “My work then evolved with different torches and different types of wood. I am in a constant process of innovation and discovery.” 

Zach explains, “I have no one to draw inspiration from in regards to pyrography. It’s trial and error the entire way. Most of my techniques started by accident. I have pushed myself and learned to control the fire. I enjoy working with fire because it appears to be physically impossible because it doesn’t seem like something you could contain or control.” Zach continues to explain that it feels very organic and natural like a collaboration with nature - not imposing. Before he starts a piece, there are already various things happening in the wood. He then weaves in and out the wood grain. This might influence his decision as to where to start - maybe the eye, the nose, or the mouth. Zach’s creativity truly comes from within. He might have nice tools now, but that wasn’t always the case and it hasn’t stopped him from creating art and being successful.

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