Matt Flint is ‘Nurtured by Nature’ at Gallery MAR
When painter Matt Flint starts a new painting, he dives right in, preliminary sketches be damned.
"It’s probably not the best way to start and I’ve found it’s frustrating at times, but it’s how I do things," Flint said during a call from his studio in Lander, Wyoming. "I’m like that when I go out to the trails. I just go out and explore."
Exploring the outdoors is something dear to Flint’s heart and that shows in his new exhibit, "Nurtured by Nature," that will open at Gallery MAR on Friday, Feb. 26.
Flint has prepared 13 works for the show. Most will be oils, but three or four are created by water-based mediums — ink, marble dust and gesso.
"My upbringing feeds into all of this," Flint said. "I grew up outside of Kansas City, Missouri. We had a large farm with wooded acreage and I spent every waking hour outside."
However, Flint attended school in the middle of the city.
"I would come home at night to this rural setting, so it was strange and dichotomous, but it was great because being outside became my touchstone."
Flint’s interest in art blossomed in high school.
"I come from a large family and almost everyone is involved in the sciences in some way or another, but I’m the weird middle child who didn’t fit that mold," he said. "I got turned onto art when I was in high school. I had a teacher who was a practicing artist who really encouraged me."
After working as an illustrator at newspapers and magazines, he crossed over into fine art.
That said, it’s not accurate to call Flint a wildlife artist.
"Even though it’s a subject that I’m painting right now, I have been a nonobjective painter and worked in abstraction and have done others that are very representational," he said. "So, now, I’m in the middle where I’m combining representational ideas with abstract and expressionistic approaches."
That means Flint’s goals is to capture an ideal of the animal he wishes to paint.
"When I approach the painting, I do try to capture the personality of these creatures," he said. "I do think I anthropomorphize them a little, because there is definitely some emotion or human connection in them.
"I’m interested in that because that’s how I remember a lot of these encounters that I have had with wildlife out on the trails, in the backcountry or snowboarding," Flint said. "It’s a momentary, quick glance, a short connection and then either I’m moving on or the creature is. I kind of think of the paintings as snippets of memories, which can, at times, be a little slippery, because my human ideas poured on top of that."
The completed paintings are never how Flint pictured them in his mind.
"I’ll lay an idea in and over the course, the painting will change dramatically," he said. "I like paint in general because it’s flexible and you can change it over and over. I’d be a terrible stone carver. It would be really bad."
Flint also likes his works to show a record of his process.
"I like showing the places that I painted over or washed out and even the unfinished areas," he said.
That said, Flint knows intuitively when a work is done.
"It’s finished when I can’t do anything else to it," he said with a chuckle. "When you start, you force the work into being and then, as it goes on, I start to respond to what is happening. As I do that, it takes a life of its own. Toward the end of the work, I do a few little touches and once it says what it has to say and I can’t add anything to the conversation, we’re done."
That’s something he’s learned over the years as a professional painter.
"I have developed a way to trust my abilities in this process," he said. "I found that I need to be in the studio every day, even though I teach full time and my wife and I own a bakery and have kids."
The painter also has his own method when tackling a new body of work.
"I work on all of them at one time," he said. "Since many of the pieces are oil, they are thick and textual and take a while to dry. So I’ll rotate from one to another."
Gallery MAR, 436 Main St., will host an artist reception for visual artist Matt Flint’s "Nurtured by Nature" on Friday, Feb. 26, beginning at 6 p.m. Flint’s works are inspired by wildlife and their habitats. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.galleryMAR.com.
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