Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paul LaFlam: : Paint

Today we are visiting the studio of expressionist painter Paul LaFlam. Paul lives and paints in the Syndicate Building in St. Louis' loft district. This building was designed for artists and has two floors of gallery space and a community studio.
Paul began painting in 2001 after a career as a chef. He knew what he wanted his work to look like, but he didn't know how to paint it. 
Fifteen paintings later, Paul knew how to create the look he wanted - he still uses this method today. Paul paints landscapes, flowers, occasionally nudes.
 Paul considers this effect to be one of his trademarks, and you'll see it in every painting.
After more than 100 paintings, he can purposefully create this "flowy snakeskin" texture as he envisions it. Paul says this melding of colors is important, and similar to making a sauce. 
The community studio space at the Sydicate Building is huge. Paul is one of the largest scale artists, and while the studio is open to every resident, currently there are about six artists who use is regularly.
Paul's work requires him to build his canvasses from 1/4-inch plywood. By the time a 5-foot by 8-foot painting is done, it will have approximately four gallons of paint on it.
Paul paints with house paint and oils. He also has started experimenting with eco-friendly paint and is pleased with its performance in his work. 
Paul also paints on upcycled canvasses - like old doors - when he finds them. This canvas is next on his list. Paul refers to himself as a "large scale, one-shot painter" because he cannot stop working on a painting until it is finished. The paint blending, spreading and drying is all part of his process.
Paul and his wife, photographer Connie LaFlam, created this space in the studio for their grandson. The painted chair was a collaboration.
Each of Paul's paintings has unfinished edges.
A wonderful feature of his art is that you can touch it. Paul says he often sees people twitching their hands when they begin to observe his work.
Here is one of the galleries. Paul and Connie organize art shows in this space every couple of months.  They also donate regularly to their favorite charities. Paul will have a small painting auctioned off this weekend at A Tasteful Affair, to benefit Food Outreach.
Their next show, "Eighteen Hours LaTer," opens Saturday, April 16th, eighteen hours after taxes are due. Paul and Connie organize these shows to create opportunities for local artists and to support the St. Louis art community.
Paul has collectors all over the country. He keeps in touch with his collector base, and once you buy a painting at full price, any additional works are half price. He sold his first painting for $100. Now his paintings sell for thousands of dollars.
Thanks so much Paul!

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