All roads lead to Whidbey Island for twin artists

Posted in Feature, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
June 26, 2013

After careers in related fields, twin brothers Dan and Mike Burroughs of Clinton have come full circle to embrace their lifelong love of art and Whidbey Island.

Twin brothers Mike and Dan Burroughs of Clinton are both Whidbey Art Gallery artists. (Photo by Betty Freeman)

Twin brothers Mike and Dan Burroughs of Clinton are both Whidbey Art Gallery artists. (Photos by Betty Freeman)

The identical twins both retired to Whidbey Island a couple of years ago. Their grandparents bought land here in 1941, and as they grew up the pair spent many happy days here at the family compound in Clinton.

“We’ve come here for vacations all our lives,” said Dan, who with his wife Ann Sayvetz moved here in 2010. “Everywhere you go here it’s like paradise.”

Brother Mike Burroughs currently lives on the property his grandparents owned and now the twins tend the vegetable garden and strawberry patch started by the older generation years ago.

Since their dad worked for Boeing, their family moved around a lot, but the Northwest always drew them back.

In their 20s, the brothers pursued fine arts.

Dan attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for three years and studied painting and sculpture. But he soon realized that making a living with fine art was a tough go, and decided to go to engineering school. His long career was spent designing bridges all over the world as a structural engineer.

“In a way, bridges are a kind of industrial sculpture,” Dan said. “I designed what are called ‘signature bridges’ that combine function, beauty and cost-effectiveness.”

Mike, who always loved to draw, also tried to make a living with art for several years in his 20s, but he too decided to go back to school and study architecture.

His work as an architect took him around the world doing commercial designs for hotels and casinos.

“I’ve always loved drawing and I enjoy design,” Mike said.

"Coupeville," a watercolor sketch by Mike Burroughs.

“Coupeville,” a watercolor sketch by Mike Burroughs.

Now, the brothers’ fine art can be found at Whidbey Art Gallery on Second Street in Langley.

Dan currently has a wall at the co-op gallery, and Mike recently became a member. He’ll have his own wall starting at the beginning of July.

“We’re both really pleased to have juried into Whidbey Art Gallery,” Mike said.

Dan concentrates on creating oil paintings of trucks, industrial equipment and “anything rusty.” Currently, he is studying oil painting with Deon Matson at the South Whidbey Senior Center.

“Deon’s a fantastic teacher,” he said.  “She really keeps me focused.”

Mike is a watercolor sketcher, and he’s joined the Whidbey Island Sketchers group that meets every Friday to sketch at various places around the island. Recent venues have included Admiralty Head Lighthouse and the Clinton ferry dock.

“It’s a really supportive group,” Mike said of the sketchers.

He ventures out on his own to sketch local landmarks and scenery too.

“I especially love drawing boats,” he said.

Both brothers have been pleased to learn how vibrant the arts community is here on Whidbey.

“People have been really helpful,” said Dan. “I’m just learning the marketing part of art, and there’s a real spirit of cooperation here among artists and a very supportive atmosphere.”

“Whidbey Island just feels like home,” Mike said.

Find Whidbey Art Gallery in the WLM directory here.


(Pictured at top, “Airstream Last,” an oil painting by Dan Burroughs at Whidbey Art Gallery.)

Betty Freeman is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who lives in Clinton with her husband Dan Freeman, a sculptor.

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