Whimsy and Wonder: Enter the world of Byrum Art


Story and photos by Marla Hinkle 
The Halloween Hunt.com


Sherry and Ron Byrum
Sherry and Ron Byrum talk about their Halloween art


 A sea of tree  leaves wave  in the wind, transforming the rolling Ozark hills into a glorious quilt of orange, cranberry and gold. The landscape is a perfect October scene upon entering Mammoth Spring, home of Halloween and folk artists Ron and Sherry Byrum. 

The couple’s yard exhibits a warm welcome to autumn. Spinning ghosts, spirits in a circle and a graveyard share some of the same whimsy and wonder found in Byrum’s paintings.
Leaves scuttle on the porch steps as Sherry opens up the doors to their home.
First is her craft room, an inviting space full of warm sunlight that casts a friendly glow.
Halloween cards dangle from bare black branches of her Halloween tree. Paintings and artwork populate nearly every corner.
A huge sheetrock painting of a magical witch lounging on a crescent moon with star bursts dripping all around hangs above the bed.  An original acrylic painting sits on the piano. “Glimpse of a Witch” is  perfect for collectors who love details of fall leaves and a black silhouette of a witch flying by the full harvest moon.
On the fireplace is a Halloween ornament with a haunted house scene painted all around and a sculpture of a menacing hell hound with fangs.
The dog was part of an artist challenge where all participants designed around the same theme. Daisy, the Byrums’ sweet-natured dog, served as a muse for this piece, although she is adorable and not the least bit frightening. If you see a friendly beagle in one of his paintings, it’s probably Daisy.
Two of Ron’s favorite works are ” Haunted Tree House” and “Hay Rides.”
“I love the colors in these paintings and the harvest and autumn themes.”
In “Hay Rides,” a witch drives a team of horses past a two-story farmhouse lit from the glow of a burnt-orange sunset beginning to fade into clouds outlined in the glow of a full moon.
Another witch flies up to this moon and beyond a field and tree with golden leaves. The tree house in Ron’s other favorite is spellbinding. The root system provides steps up to windows that are lit with all sorts of frightful nocturnal activities. Witches frolic and stir a cauldron that spews up its mystical brew.
So where does he find inspiration? From his imagination, Ron said.
“I just start with a blank canvas and let the drawing come out.”
Her husband was born with this talent to draw and create, Sherry said. Ron was raised near Elizabethtown, N.C. His parents were deeply religious and hardworking, he said. Art was just not something that was understood as a viable career choice for him.
“My mother would say something I drew was pretty, but what was its purpose? She told me I was wasting paper.”
But his artistic drive never left him. Sherry is from Houston and the two met in eastern Texas and have been married 30 years. Sherry has always believed in Ron’s ability and talent, she said.
“We’ve done a lot of different jobs before finding our niche,” Sherry said.
Painting houses was one job, along with a commission in Memphis, Tenn., for a record store. The couple lived in Memphis before moving to Mammoth Spring 10 years ago to escape city life.
“What we really become known for was our yard art,” Sherry said.


Halloween ornament

This ornament is painted with a full Halloween scene


witch and leaves

An original artwork is displayed on the piano


Hellhound challenge

Daisy is transformed to a hellhound for an art challenge


daisy the beagle

Daisy listens as the Byrums talk about her role in their art




ghost spinners

Ghosts spin in the October wind


haunted yard
Ghosts form a circle in the back yard

People began asking if the Halloween yard signs featuring witches were for sale. The spinning ghosts that appear to turn and fly in the wind were a design of Ron’s that was bought by Impact Plastics. The company sold the corrugated plastic ghosts to Walmart, but the design was altered so the ghosts do not spin, Ron said. The retailer no longer sells this product, but the spirits live on in the Byrums’ fantastical yard.

The steep backyard leads up to a graveyard and grim reaper. A ghost circle is particularly eye-catching at night, Ron said. Light in the center changes colors and projects onto the white sheets. Halloween decor continues with a birdhouse that looks as if it could be a haunted mansion, Sherry said. Ron has constructed about 50 birdhouses ranging in size from two to four feet tall. 

 The couple loves gardening as well as art. Sherry is a member of The Haunted Gardens, an online group  that discusses tips on growing varieties that would fit into a magical garden, such as moonflowers and black tulips. Sherry also grows 100 varities of daylilies, many of which are orange. 

Lights decorate her house year-round. She begins with clear lights in August, adding purple and orange in October and replacing these colors with red and green for Christmas. Sherry’s creativity is mirrored in a painting titled “Haunted Lantern House,” where purple and orange lights are strewn around the branches of a tree house. 

Sherry is the resident computer guru and social networker, with Facebook, Myspace and a blog, The Hive. Both artists create computer graphics with animation. She designed her husband’s Web site and began selling his artwork on eBay in 1999. The volume of work includes nearly 100 listings. Networking with other Halloween artists has been gratifying, Sherry said. 


“Everyone is so nice and supportive of each other’s work.” For Halloween, the Byrums participate in Spooktacular, an event where business owners hand out candy for the holdiay downtown. 

The Byrums belong to several art groups on eBay, including  Halloween Artists.com and the Society of Ecletic Halloween Artists. Byrum’s artwork has been published in the following magazines: 

  • Celebrate 365
  • The Witches Digest
  • Ye Olde Witches Brew Magazine

Also, Country Sampler will feature Ron’s work in the November 2010 issue. Byrum was one of three artists whose work was chosen for a magazine ad. 

Sherry said talking to other artists and focusing on her art without the interruptions of a full-time job are perks. For Ron, he has more time to enjoy  his art and work “without a boss.” However, the couple still experiences some pitfalls of the starving artist syndrome, he said. 

That’s where his experience in painting houses comes in handy. Ron incorporates techniques like faux finishes and painting vine and design motifs on walls. Painting on woodwork is another skill he employs to make a countertop resemble marble or Arkansas stone. 

Charles and Sue Vaughn, owners of Riverbend Nursery in Mammoth Spring, are clients. Sue said she was pleased with the job Ron did in painting her walls to appear like stone and countertop to resemble marble. Knotty pine and hand-cut rails were used in the chairs. He painted plywood to match chairs to get a light oak look. The kitchen island countertop Ron painted looks country antique and  is one of Sue’s favorite areas that Ron painted.  

Another large project for Ron was at the McCullogh House, a 14,000 square-foot mansion in the woods where he hand-painted rooms and completed a lot of the woodwork. 

Byrum said he doesn’t do one activity too long before starting another. 

“I think Ron has Attention Deficit Disorder,” Sherry said. 

But the pair shares some clear-cut goals: They would like to offer their paintings in different formats and larger sizes, which is something they have explored at Cafepress.com. Starting an art show in Mammoth Spring is a project Sherry would like to develop. 

Although the Byrums celebrate all holidays with gusto, Halloween is their favorite. The artists offer a few Christmas paintings. Some still showcase some Halloween friends. Ron gives an impish grin when he talks about some of the more unusual Christmas/Halloween pairings, such as a bat flying a holly-trimmed garland to decorate a Christmas tree as a cat, crow and beagle and grim reaper are captivated by the tree’s glow. A moon wearing green ear muffs and a jack-o-lantern smile completes the holiday mix. 

Haunted Snow House is one I have up in my house all winter. Bats and ghosts fly above the home while snow softly falls on a quiet graveyard. 

Ron said he planned to complete at least six new haunted house pictures in the coming months. 

“I never do the same thing twice.” 

Leaves continue to blow across yards and downtown Mammoth Spring as I prepare to leave the magical world of Sherry and Ron Byrum. Driving down Arkansas 9  throughout the hilly region dotted with lakes, farms and huge oak and maple trees, one can almost see a witch stirring her brew behind  a tree house filled with merry visitors, or a skeleton sitting  out on a front porch rocking chair, waving as you pass by. 





haunted birdhouse

A haunted birdhouse perches in the bush




fantasy witch

A magical witch decorates the bedroom




halloween tree

Sherry's Halloween tree decorates her art studio




kitchen vine

A painted vine creeps along a kitchen wall




faux marble

Byrum painted a surface to resemble marble




Haunted tree house

Witches frolic around a haunted tree house




tree witch

The witch stirs her cauldron





Haunted Snow House

Ghosts fly around in the snow




Snow Witch

The snow woman displays her witchy attire