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Artist feels heat of inspiration

Fire and the way one can transform it into a work of art — is the inspiration that drives John Peterson.

For three years, Peterson has sold his fire mandala work — through his Web site. He also runs a business that takes interactive video — of surgeries to help educate doctors about new surgical procedures.

Peterson discovered his inspiration for fire mandalas — while working with kaleidoscope material on his photoshop program and — put a fire image into the mix.

"It just seemed right," he said. "I find a lot of discovery — through this work."

To create his fire mandalas, he uses his flame thrower, — which he calls his "paint brush," and takes pictures of the flames outdoors. — Using these photos, he goes into his photoshop program and moves and changes — the different fire images to create his work.

What Peterson loves about fire mandalas is each one incites — a different response, depending on who is looking at the image.

While he may see devils and demons in one of pieces of — work, someone else may see something completely opposite like Snow White — and the Seven Dwarfs, he said.

"Everyone sees it differently," Peterson said. "It could — be anything that they want it to be. ... To me, it tells you where you — are self-consciously at that period of time."

As long as Peterson could remember, he has been intrigued — with fire.

"I think everyone is fascinated with fire," he said. "I — think it's what makes us human beings. We're the only animal on the planet — who has used it as a tool and has controlled it somewhat. ... It was our — first little step in becoming civilized."

In the near future, Peterson plans to do some of his fire — mandalas using interactive video.

After graduating from college, Peterson went to work with — an independent filmmaker in San Francisco doing interactive video.

He also has worked with Lucas Arts as a multi-media instructor.

"It was a great experience because of the talent level — of the people I was exposed to," he said. "It helped me because I learned — a lot about technology and how to work efficiently."

For more information on the fire mandalas, go to whyfire.org, — or call Peterson at 488-4556.