In the studio with Christopher St Leger

We love studio visits! Earlier this week, we took a road trip out to Lockhart to visit Christopher St Leger in his charming, paint- spattered studio.

20140805_154813How did you get started?

My first start at getting started went on and then off almost seasonally (in my twenties). But the beginning of what it is now, which is to say an occupation that I practice or think about daily, happened most of all when I’d resigned myself from advancement thru formal education. It was hard to make this decision.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?

Process has had the biggest impact. I latched onto individual paintings and worked through their content and method for years. I have had a postcard from an exhibition of watercolors by Ian Potts on my desk since 1997. This mixed with deviating for periods of time by working with abandon.

Watercolor is a special beast that is less concept-based and more practice-based which is why it’s usually referred to as a “tradition”. The focus is heavy on borrowed or inherited technique, sharing tricks such as scraping the paper with an x-acto knife for snow effect. Just go to the library and count all the how-to books.

Some folks I have managed to acquaint myself with personally have also had impacts: David Leonard, Jan Heaton, Lance Letscher, Leon Alesi, visual artists working in various media who are based around Austin, all have unique success strategies and tips (though nothing on how to create wispy snow in watercolor).

Describe a typical day in the studio.

I like to leave a painting unfinished so that when I return the following day I can pick right up. And though the whole thing is kind of a flowing experience, in recent cityscape work there are tedious parts of the painting that require planning. The playful parts that my 7 yr old son says look “easy” usually involve pouring and glazing. These are indeed fun but can also be the most intense. Creating atmosphere with edge to edge pours of permanent ink requires my attention at its fullest. If I make it look easy this is ok, but internally it’s when I don’t answer the phone or remember much of the conversation if I do. I can’t stop in the middle of this. So, the day is spent mostly between planning and pouring.

20140805_161604If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

Too many things. Most available temptation, however, would be to insert myself gently into the rosy field of architecture. A stable and calm work environment, congenial team members, socially responsive housing projects, … Or a classical musician, with the same fuzziness.

When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?

I used to think that you can’t really overwork watercolor. Lately, I’ve pushed this a bit. But you just know.

What was your first job?

construction sites and restaurants

Single best invention in your opinion.

the USA

What item would you be lost without?

my camera

Most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

Ranch 616.

20140805_161735Thanks for having us Chris!

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