Eclectic is how Fred Flanagan describes his art. But eclectic could also be used to describe his other interests. You’ll find him playing table tennis five days a week, jamming on guitar with a local group every month and serving with his wife Pat as the voices at the other end of the Master Gardeners hotline. This year he’s serving as member-at-large on the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild Board.
Since moving fulltime to SaddleBrooke from the East Coast in the mid-2000s, Flanagan has carved out time to explore his creative side. “I worked in project management for a large engineering firm and had little time to explore art—-even though I always had an interest. From what I knew, it simply took too long to create a painting and I couldn’t fit that into my busy life.”
“I did experiment with painting about 30 years ago after coming across a Bob Ross show on the local PBS station,” he remembered. “I bought supplies and canvasses and played around a little bit, having taped many of his shows so I could practice the techniques he used, but life, work and family soon absorbed all my waking hours.”
Flanagan began exploring art classes in 2008 and 2009. “Once we got the house set up and I stopped doing consulting, I was ready to fulfill my goal of creating art,” he said. “I’ve taken classes in oil, acrylic and watercolor. I’ve studied with local teachers and taken online classes. I haven’t settled on any particular medium or particular style. I’m still experimenting and trying different things.”
“I generally come up with an idea of something I want to paint,” Flanagan explained. “Then I do a small pencil sketch and work that into a study. Often, when I’m working out the initial ideas I can’t sleep and I can now come out to the studio, work on the problem a little and leave everything in place. At this point I figure out which media I want to use and the size of the painting. I let the subject determine the medium. Some ideas are better executed in watercolor; others lend themselves to oil or acrylic. Right now I’m trying to loosen up and not be so precise in my work,” he said.
Since building a casita to house his art studio last year, Flanagan tries to get out there to work on various projects for a couple of hours at least every other day. “It was a lot more difficult having to get everything out and put it away every time I wanted to work on a painting,” he said.
Flanagan says he generally has two or three projects going at once and often takes an in-progress or finished work to the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild’s non-critique sessions. The Wednesday morning sessions are held from 9:00 to 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. in the Topaz Room at SaddleBrooke Two Arts and Crafts Center.
“We bring work or not; get comments, suggestions, help. It’s a very supportive group. Some folks come just to listen. We enjoy the company of other artists,” he summed up.