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Nicholas Firfires

Birth place or City of origin: Santa Barbara
State of origin: CA
Last known City:
Last known State: CA
Start/Birth date: 1917
Death/End date: 1990

Nicholas S. Firfires was born in Santa Barbara and grew up on ranches in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County. A descendant of California vaqueros, Nick learned all the skills of working cowboys: breaking horses, herding cattle, and working cow ponies before he graduated from Santa Maria High School. Mr. Firfires’ other passion was drawing animals, cowboys, Native Americans, vaqueros and Western scenery. Later he wrote, "I soon realized that painting a bronc stomper breaking a horse was more important to me than doing the job myself." Nicholas Firfires was a founding member of the Cowboy Artists of America and a member of the Rancheros Visitadores.

He attended the Art Center School and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. After the war, he opened a studio in Santa Barbara and illustrated for Western magazines while working on easel paintings. His illustrations included Buck Jones, a popular comic strip and Gene Autry. He had his first one-man show in 1960, and was so successful that he turned exclusively to fine art painting, depicting both historic and contemporary Western scenes, always drawing cowboys moving toward the right.

Firfires was married to daughter of cowboy actor Buck Jones whose comic strip Firfires drew in 50s. In 1969, he won the silver Medal Award for watercolor in the Fourth Annual Exhibit of the Cowboy Artists of America at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He was a founding member of the CAA. Firfires was a member of the Rancheros Visitadores riding group that also included Ed Borein and Joe DeYong, both well-known Vaquero artists of the past.


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