Chris Flagg is commisioned to become Artist in Residence on the Mezzanine Gallery of Juice – a Unity Plaza gallery @ Wells Fargo Tower, 1 Independent Drive, Jacksonville FL
Plein Air Works by Christopher Flagg
Showing will begin August 5th. Please stop by to see Chris’ beautiful Plein Air works anytime at the Wells Fargo Tower, 1 Independent Drive, Jacksonville FL
Interview with Chris Flagg by JJ
How did you come up with ideas for your art?
As a professional practicing Landscape Architect for the past 37 years, I have developed a passion for large-scale master planning, community planning and urban design. The majority of what I do relates directly to visualizing an idea and relating that idea to a client, interested stakeholder or community. My ability to graphitize a creative thought has given me a basis for my passion for drawing, illustrating and now, more than ever, watercolor. I have many topics or subjects that interest me when painting, but the urban form, street-scape or some type of “contributing” structure, has always caught my fancy. I particularly love the diversity of subject matter that a city offers for a painting. From iconic architectural statements, to the street level umbrella table and chairs, the dynamics of these particular subjects create such wonderful objects to paint. As involved as I am with our City’s downtown, I welcome the chance to create representative paintings of our city. I feel it’s my neighborhood and I have a strong desire to preserve and enhance it, both professionally and artistically.
To me, it’s not difficult to constantly find ideas for a painting. They usually present themselves in my everyday profession. My problem is that I constantly aspire to paint subjects that I am keenly interested in beyond my profession. I love the cityscape, but I also love historic structures, old houses, barns, churches, boats, trains, and planes…I just have difficulty deciphering just what to paint. I love portraiture as well, and find it extremely difficult to accomplish, but enjoy the occasional challenge of a good watercolor portrait. So, for me, it’s certainly not difficult to find appropriate subject matter to my liking, its just finding the time to paint all that I want to paint and creating a painting that I feel is a justifiable representation or impression of that particular subject.
How did you make it? (physical and mental process)
In many ways, I feel that I have reached the pinnacle of my profession. I have had the opportunity to study under and work for many talented professionals. I have also embraced opportunities to teach and give back to my community in ways that only my profession has been able to provide the foundation to accomplish. But my true lifelong passion has been my ability to draw. Whether through my daily journals, sketchbooks and doodles, I constantly feed my inner artist. At ten years old, I wanted to be a cartoonist. In my early years of school, I was constantly getting into trouble by not paying attention during class because I was creating some type of master piece during the boring lectures. I feel that there exists an innate ability of talent in everyone, whether it is talents for numbers, critical thinking or music, we all possess an inner artistry. Mine was the ability to draw. I utilize it in my everyday profession, I teach students methods to strengthen their ability to “see” by drawing and I thoroughly enjoy the times that I can sketch without having to care for the minutia of detail. So the physical processes have been with me a very long time, probably all of my life. The desire, or mental aspect of this passion, is constantly at the forefront of everything that I do. Basically, the mental processes of accomplishment are difficult only when I attempt to turn them off.
What do you see as the strengths of your art, visually or conceptually?
I seem to have the ability to be able to draw every conceivable detail of a scene if I so wish, but as I have become more entrenched in the world of watercolor, I desire to become more impressionistic. It essentially becomes boring to paint what you see, unless of course, it is something of extraordinary quality. Sometimes realism is quite challenging to represent and it tests your patience and medium control, so it definitely has its place. But I believe my strengths as an artist is to paint visually. That’s particularly why I love to paint “en plein-air”. Let the elements dictate a picture in all sense of the word. From the weather, to the people asking about the painting, it’s all part of the visual process of representation. I work a great deal in the “conceptual” world in my profession and I can certainly portray an idea through illustration, but I love the opportunity to paint visually.
What is the best comment you have ever heard from a patron and/or viewer of your artwork?
I’ve had some very nice comments while either painting or viewing of my works, but probably my most memorable comment came from someone whom I’ve looked up to professionally and artistically for about 40 years. My professional mentor, James Turner, who now resides in retirement in west Louisiana as an artist and true environmentalist, is someone who I think is a genius within our professional design community and an extraordinary watercolorist. I marvel at his talent and have personally aspired to be a fraction of the watercolor artist that he is. In a recent exchange of watercolor works via e-mail, he stated to me that my “work has exceeded his” and is “proud of how far I have progressed as an artist”…That, to me, is the best compliment that I could have ever received, especially from someone who has meant so much to me throughout my professional career.
What artist or artists – art historic or contemporary – inspire you the most?
Since my passion is watercolor, there have been many that have influenced my direction. Certainly the old school masters like John Singer Sargent, whose brevity of strokes continue to inspire, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, are all so influential in their styles and treatment of subject matter, but I particularly enjoy following the contemporaries such as Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Robert Wade for their masterful handling of the medium and certainly Charles Reid for his portraits and arsenal of color. Architectural illustrators turned professional watercolorists such as John Haycraft, Frank Costantino and Thomas Schaller all exhibit such beautifully unleashed impressionistic styles after years of having to endure the professional perils of meticulous renderings of horrendously boring monuments to egotistical architects or architectural “wannabe” clients. I’m continually inspired by their freedom of stroke, confidence and artistic abandon. The beauty of these contemporaries is that through technology, we can continually follow their efforts, take workshops or just view their examples for a constant flow of inspiration.
Find out more about Chris Flagg and his significant leadership in the Jacksonville community: