Christopher Myott is Turning Common Objects Into Art
Artist Christopher Myott of Jaffrey simplifies his immediate reality into a 2-D world of oil paint on Masonite. His subject matter of choice often involves motorcycles, oilcans and vases, a neighbor’s wood workshop, and, lately, a forlorn pile of baseball cards. The objects are tangible, but transformed through Myott’s technique.
Starting with a palette knife, Myott coats the flat panel with a layer of paint before inscribing or carving his subject into the thick paint. Then comes another layer of paint and more sgraffito, which may reveal an earlier layer of paint, creating a thin line in another color. The painting comes together with the immediacy of a quick first sketch. Myott does not correct any imperfect lines — he prefers the first, fresh take to project his style, his vision of reality without any erasures or modifications. “There’s something honest about it, like a signature,” he says. Finally, he hand-rubs a beeswax coating over the paint, much like a furniture master would, to preserve his work and give it a quiet luster.
Motorcycles and Japanese vases are often commingled into a single composition, each giving Myott plenty of lines to subdivide the canvas for a “fun dynamic.” One work is primarily simple vases, but taken to the limit with drawings of motorcycles as decorative design instead of a Japanese landscape or floral display.
Myott’s latest foray started with a single box of baseball cards he was given as a child, but showed no interest in at that time. Recently, he randomly selected a card — it was a Fleer card of the former Oriole/Blue Jays pitcher Mike Flanagan. He painted the front portrait and back with statistics in his signature style. It wasn’t until later that he was told Flanagan was a Cy Young Award-winner and raised in Manchester. “I like that this work always starts a conversation and widens the audience for art,” he says.
The cards are painted on Masonite and carefully framed in wood with a swivel system Myott devised to display the front or back at any time. Myott hopes to flesh out a “full pack” of card paintings for a future gallery show. His work is on display at the Sharon Arts Center, in a motorcycle culture art exhibit in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and in collections throughout the US.