Friday, August 23, 2019

me against the sun

The sun has been a galactic god to civilizations, male to some and female, I'm sure, to others.  What is my relationship with the sun?

Icarus had one.  My own seems similar.  If you think of the sun as an enormous power source that you confront or fight.

What I find most embarrassing as an artist is the never ending exertion in striving to be what I'm not.  It is solar in scale.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

dark ages

As an oil painter I find myself scanning my environment for material differently than I do as a watercolorist.

I think of James Turrell, as I pause and take note of sky-ground contrasts.  I want to see his crater someday.  Tell me how.

I am going to give an art talk on July 24th at 6 or 6:30 at Commerce Gallery here in Lockhart.  It will not be about the Dark Ages.  Because I know my audience and I don't think they want to here my dark thoughts.  But oil painting has been a chance to explore the darker values, compared to the pure white paper days of watercolor.  

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Priorities.  First, announcement for upcoming show.  Stella Alesi will have her work here in Lockhart with us at Commerce Gallery.  I've known Stella for several years, and I've witnessed the evolution of her work through painting and color field and most recently geometric abstraction.  She is an artist who is devoted to creating work in waves of exploration.  Stella, while spontaneous, also sees her work through and through to a mature conclusion.  I look forward to hanging with Stella and Leon on Friday, July 5.

I continue to work in oil on panel, layering thin to thick layers with palette knives, all with the speed of watercolor to an effect that feels natural and on par with previous years' efforts in water media on paper.  I choose my locale of Lockhart where I spend an ever increasing maximum of my time (all of it).  By painting the mass and void, the small urbanity of Lockhart, I feel ever more connected to it, which is integral in a time when work and family push pull me in discordant directions.  

I run/jog/walk in the mornings, earlier and earlier as summer heat approaches.  On a day when I'm halfway through I realize I'm wearing my regular non-athletic spectacles which fog up in the humidity, I remove them and run blindly.  Ok, I am not entirely blind and can make out an approaching car, but mostly I run beside clouds of undefined light and dark color.  Strangely, this feels like rest.  Without my vision I am aware of my heavy dependence on my sense of sight.

As I run on a morning like this after traveling with my family for two weeks in the fastidiously organized Netherlands my thoughts are dancing.  I listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a Qawwali master who died about 20 years ago.  His music is clearly devotional, this much I have always appreciated.  It stirs my imagination and echoes the swirling - blind - joy of 3 mile freedom.

In Brussels with Rene Magritte, at his museum, more of his work than I'd ever imagined.  I normally view a painting first and follow by leaning in to the accompanying label.  With each and every one of his paintings, his incongruous titles cause a small hiccup or chuckle in my mind to the flow of work.  His paintings are crafted so beautifully, especially for one whose basis for painting was Idea over paint.

Ok, Netherlands is bicycle heaven.  Small roads specifically for bicycles.  Fietspad.  Love it.

Lucian at Teylers MuseumHaarlem.  Art and Science in one museum.  Who knew?  Now one of my favorite museums of all time.

Monday, May 13, 2019


"Are you a millenial, Chris?"  
I looked around the small weight room where I lift heavier than normal things twice each week.  Who is asking me this?  

I paused the podcast on my phone.  An elderly gym mate was peddling so quietly on the stationary cycle that I'd not really noticed her.  I think of myself as more generation x and shared this with her.  She was intrigued.

She shared some recent observations, maybe complaints, about how dependent her children seem on their devices.  I admitted my own dependence and delicately shortened my answers to her questions so as to end the conversation and exit the gym.  

On the phone later this morning my mother asked me if I'd posted any new pictures on my dot com or my blog.  A perfectly sweet-hearted long-distance question.  I explained that I only blog once each month and that nobody looks at websites anymore.  But that I do post things regularly on facebook and instagram.  

She explained how she doesn't like facebook because of how she gets sucked into it.  Old friends reach out to her, and it's a bit overwhelming for her at her desk.  I had no argument for her and only wished I'd sent her a sappy hallmark card for mother's day.   Doggone it.

Sunday, April 7, 2019


William Blake's art and poetry was spiritual.   When I encounter him I see a prophet in the wilderness.  I see an artist, but mostly I see a zealot with a vision of fire and glory.  I enjoy reading about his career as much as his own words, to get a picture of the visionary consumed by the eternal in a context of fellow bodies competing for a publisher's contract.

Formations and assemblies, teams, congregations, affiliations.  I just spent two consecutive nights at the Commerce Gallery entertaining guests for a themed weekend in the downtown square.  Community here is not abstract.  

I picked through old snapshots at a local pawn shop of families on beachside vacations, graduations, picnics.  I drove with a friend out to a primitive baptist hall to experience a Sacred Harp.  This republic as a broth, boiled down to shared experiences, not so much the lightning bolt of Blake's inner world.

One month so far at the new studio in downtown Lockhart.  Adding a sign here, a website there (in a couple weeks).  Matt Kaplinsky of Dallas will show his work next, party night Friday May 3rd.  Patrick Puckett, whose work is currently hanging through end of April, will have a show in Austin at Wally Workman in June.  He and his wife are expecting their first baby this month...a great time to support this fellow artist.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

all at once

All at once millions of things around us create the singular place.

My good friend, Eric Beck, wrote a thoughtful statement for the opening of Commerce Gallery in Lockhart.  I'd like to share it below.  

Eric is the Artistic Director of Lockhart's Gaslight Baker Theatre.  This month he is directing "The Moors" which is playing for the next two weekends.  I have enjoyed watching this theatre grow and establish itself as the artistic hub of our community.

"Christopher St. Leger’s paintings are stubbornly concerned with place--the unwaveringly particular rendering of locations and situations. The buildings, structures, and even sometimes people he depicts consistently anchor his paintings to specific locales and scenes. It would be wrong to call his work mimetic, but there is very little abstraction of the objects he portrays, very little transformation of the things—lines, shapes, materials--that make them structures. This fidelity to the objects allows St. Leger to display his bravura technical mastery, particularly of the watercolor medium that is notoriously difficult to use realistically. But it also allows him to take the objects he depicts seriously as objects, as things in themselves, and to reckon truthfully with how they interject themselves into our thoughts, our feelings, and our interactions with the worlds they inhabit.

St. Leger’s commitment to depicting place is not, however, a static one. His work does not revolve around a singular site that provides him an endless canvas to explore his themes, like Monet’s Giverny or Cezanne’s Provence or Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. His creations enact a very mobile sense of place, one that can comfortably and evocatively portray both the Baroque, almost-claustrophobic buildings lining Viennese streets and the open, nearly limitless expanses that hover over Texas small towns. A peripatetic aesthetic that produces intense bursts of space and place but does not remain wedded to location.

That of course does imply that his body of work meanders or lacks focus. What provides it unity is not the subject matter but the artist’s unerring ability to suffuse his work with palpable mood, tone, and feeling. These exist within a stunningly wide range of expression, from dark and foreboding to light and welcoming, and lots of admixtures in between that often defy formula and expectation. Adding to these forms of expression is his disinterest in hiding the operations of chance: the random drip, the stain from the paint can accidentally placed on the painting. These “accidents” are not really a metacommentary on the form of painting but more about the complications of and deviations within mood and feeling themselves—which sometimes converge with the places where they are felt and sometimes don’t. St. Leger admirably doesn’t feel the need to reconcile any of this."
-Eric Beck, Artistic Director, Lockhart Gaslight Baker Theatre

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Commerce Gallery Lockhart

15 years ago Andrea and I moved from an east Austin rental into an old wooden house with a barn in the backyard that I made into my studio.  At the time I knew nobody in Lockhart and commuted to Austin for work and play.  I created work here, but I showed the work at Davis Gallery in Austin, McMurtrey Gallery in Houston, or George Billis in NYC.  Anywhere but here.

2019. 03. 01.  I am excited to announce the opening of Commerce Gallery in Lockhart, TX.  My new studio location as well as a permanent space for showing and selling my work.  

Donna Blair and Tamara Carlisle, of Blairfield Realty, are both art collectors and the owners of Commerce Gallery.  They plan to rotate a new guest artist every 8-10 weeks with openings on every First Friday of the month.  The first show will feature new and old work by Patrick Puckett of Austin.  Opening an art gallery is something Donna and Tamara have wanted to do together for years.  I'm just thrilled to be part of it.

Hours will be Wednesday - Sunday 11am-5pm.  Website will be up soon.
Landline: 512-668-4288.
I will be there in the alley studio Mon-Friday 9-5.  If you wish to stop by, let me know and I'll open the front.