I received extensive training and experience at the Universary of Arizona for 5 years (1966-71), where I majored in pottery and sculpture, with individual studies in racu and casting of organic matter. I spent 5 semesters in jewelry and metal working alone. After my training at the university, I chose to work copper as a business, first because I had a love for the medium that started in high school, and second because coppersmithing had a lower start up cost than pottery and I already had most of the equipment I needed. I started out making and selling copper clad candles in a business I began that was called Art To Burn. During that time, I found that selling direct to the public fits my personality best. I also produced and sold sculptures, fountains, lamps and fusion jewelry. Some of my early works were shown at the PhoenixArt Museum and the El Paso Museum of Fine Arts. It wasn’t until 1981, that I began developing the flame painting technique. When the cost of paraffin skyrocketed, I began moving in other directions and in an endeavor to break away from the masses, I began to harness the colors I would see when soldering and annealing copper into an art form. I disciplined myself to do nothing but butterflies for the first ten years, making 15,000 of them in a row. It was then that I went from being a coppersmith who colored with a flame to being referred to as a “flame painter”, because of the detail I achieved using a flame. An article was written about my work in Sunshine Artists Magazine. During the second 10 years of flame painting I developed the pins, still keeping to the smaller pieces so I could spend more time with my two daughters. Also, making the smaller pieces allowed me to create beautiful pieces for the common as well as the rich, and it allowed me to hone my skills through sheer repetition. I sold my work mostly on the road with my family at art and craft shows. In 1991, I moved to Branson, Missouri where I worked as a craftsman at Silver Dollar City. In 1996, I married my new best friend and fellow artist, Racheal. Since then, we have developed a following of patrons and valued repeat customers who have found us at 4 different venues there over the years. First we started a store at The Engler’s Block called A Couple of Artists. We were there for 3 years. Then, in 1999, because we wanted more time to be artists and less time to maintain a large retail store, we moved to a lease shop at Silver Dollar City. They had recognized me as an American premiere Flame Painter and mastercraftsman. In this last decade, I have focused my skills on larger pieces, the intricately painted vases, wall pieces and sculptures. Racheal and I spent 6 wonderful years there. It was there that I apprenticed my wife, as well as my son-in-law, Phillip. Then, because it is so difficult to paint with a flame in an out door venue, we moved to The Branson Mill Craft Village. There are many other craftsmen there, some of which demonstrate their art form. In 2012 we took a huge step towards settling down and moved to Mountain View, Arkansas and began demonstrating, teaching, and selling at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. That’s where you’ll find us today!
I studied fine arts at the University of Arizona from 1970 to 1974. Short of a degree, I chose to marry and start a family, which added years of new subject matter and rich experiences to express in my art! When my two boys were school age, I took another course at the university in scientific illustration to increase my marketable abilities and learn to use a camera. It was then that I decided to focus on fine arts again instead of commercial, as commercial art was moving heavily towards using computers – “give me a pencil and paper please,” was my motto! I met a wonderful artist and teacher named Lillias Appland, who had been personally trained for 9 years by the internationally renown southwestern painter, R. Brownel McGrew. What wonderful training I received from her, for 9 years as well. I gained skills not only in understanding and mixing colors, but in portraiture and in curriculum training for teaching art to others. Her curriculum teaches classical art skills in very simple and easy to learn terms, which I have used to teach many satisfied students over 16 years. During those years I also did commissioned work in oils, acrylic, pencil, colored pencil, pastel and crayon – yes crayon – Lillias’ influence again! I did many portraits and some of my work includes murals. In 1996 I married Skip and moved to Branson, MO. My teaching and commission work continued for several years. I had never wanted to work copper, using machines and fire; it’s a messy, strenuous and hot job. Then I realized that God, who I had long ago acknowledged as the giver and manager of my art skills, was saying “NO” to the direction I had always taken in fine arts. What a surprise, but I had come to a place where I trusted that He always has something very good in mind. So I became willing to put painting and teaching fine arts away till I heard otherwise. I literally turned around and saw an awesome opportunity I had never quite seen before. I offered my gifts as an artist to my husband Skip, to come along side him to work together in one art form instead of both of us going in two different directions. After a year of learning and practicing this art form in front of viewers at SilverDollarCity, lights began to turn on, I began to move in this medium as I had in other mediums. I was delighted and thankful. What a wonderful and exciting art form to do! It is now my medium of choice; plus I love working along side Skip and we make a better living working together than we did apart. I’m using skills and inspirations that I had always seen in me, but had never been utilized. It was a great trade! After 14 years of flame painting copper, I am enjoying hammering out my own forms, creating unique, fashionable bowls and other forms to paint with the flame. I’m also teaching now, along with Skip. We made a 70 minute instructional DVD that teaches many of the basics of coppersmithing and flame painting. Unfortunately the video was pirated and we no longer sell it. But, for 6 years we have had the great privilage of teaching a 40 hour college accredited workshop at the new ArkansasCraftSchool in Mountain View, Arkansas. And this class has changed now to a 3 day workshop, with only 4 students, which allows us to teach the basic techniques needed to build skills in flame painting in smaller more affective chunks with more individual instruction. Find out more about these learning opportunities by checking out “Instruction Opportunities” at the top of this page. Two articles have been written about us, one in RCI Magazine in June of 2007 and another in Rural Missouri Magazine in April of 2007. We were juried members of Best of Missouri Hands for 10 years (2002-2012) and had our work juried in for 3 years in a row at William Woods’ prestigious “Celebrating Creativity” exhibit in Fulton, Missouri. Additionally, Skip has 2 of his flame painted Christmas ornaments on permanent display at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, Missouri. Now that we are living in Arkansas, we have become juried members of the Arkansas Craft Guild. We are now enjoying the wonderful artisans of northeast Arkansas! Skip and I have not sought awards and honors, but have found favor as we have focused on quality, serving and making a provision for our family. With our combined skills and experience, we make a wide variety of pins, jewelry, wall decor and free standing pieces. Skip displays an exciting flare for colors and patterns as well as innovative 3D effects. Racheal creates intense color combinations with a particular gift for symmetry. We are committed to being faithful with our gifts and to building bridges to those who desire to understand and appreciate this unique art form. We send our art and our expertise into the world in hopes that others may be blessed by it as much as we have been blessed by creating it.