Jim and Mary Strong have owned property in Rim country, the WD Ranch in Lower Round Valley, since 1978. But they have only been able to make it their permanent home for five years.
Jim, an illustrator, artist and art instructor said since moving here, his style has evolved.
"I'm much freer in painting and a little looser in my technique," he said.
"It's because you don't have the stress you had before," Mary said.
Jim said he is less preoccupied with other things.
The stress and preoccupation came from running the Jim Strong Art School in Scottsdale for 33 years. He sold the school, which is now the Arizona Art School, in 1999 and moved to Payson.
The move to the slower-paced life in the Rim country has also led Jim to change how he evaluates subject matter for his paintings. He primarily does Native American and cowboy portraits, plus a few landscapes."I'm starting to paint more landscapes," he said.
Jim is one of the 35 artists in the 2004 Payson Art League Fall Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Show and Sale at the Tonto Apache Tribe's activity center, south of the casino. The show opens with an artists' reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. A $5 donation is requested. The main exhibit is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 and Sunday, Nov. 7, admission is free. There will be a raffle for various artworks donated by participants on Sunday afternoon. Proceeds will be used to benefit Rim country schools.
This is only the second PAL show in which Jim has participated.
In addition to his paintings, Jim also makes crosses from old bard wood and rustic found items.
"They come in all designs and sizes," he said.
After spending so many years training aspiring artists, Jim said he would still tell those venturing into the field not to worry about the little details. "Look at the big picture," he said. "And practice drawing, it's the basis of all good painting."
When Jim is not painting, he and his wife like collecting Indian artifacts, western collectibles and antiques. They are members of the Payson Packers, a local hiking group, and they make all kinds of wine from the various fruits and berries that grow on their ranch, labeling it WD Ranch Wine.
Jim was raised in Grand Junction, Colo., Mary grew up on a dairy in Buena Park, Calif.
Walking around the Gibson Ranch property, where they built their own ranch, they felt like they were coming home, Mary said. They named the property for Mary's father, William DeJager, a Christian dairyman who used the WD as his cattle brand. The couple said without DeJager's initial support and blessing, the WD Ranch would not have been possible.
The ranch's old barn is used by Jim as a studio, and the cabin they built when they first bought the property is now rented to Rim country visitors.
For information about the PAL show, call (928) 472-8651.
Name: Jim Strong
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kan.
Family: Wife of 40 years, Mary, three children, and two grandchildren.
Personal motto: Hard work, good ethics.
Inspiration: My mother, Velma Strong.
Greatest feat: Making it in the art business on my own and doing something I love.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Collecting Indian artifacts
Three words that describe me best are ... Humorous, honest, spiritual.
I don't want to brag but ... I've had a lot of guardian angels in my life.
The person in history I'd most like to meet is: Daniel Boone, he's a relative.
Luxury defined: Living in Payson.
Dream vacation spot: Australia.
Why Payson? I was raised in western Colorado, and Payson reminded me of that country, it's just like home.