Catching Up With: Tom Flanagan

Catching Up With: Tom Flanagan

Tom Flanagan Maine painter painting abstract

We recently caught up with Tom Flanagan, a painter based in Yarmouth, Maine. When we first look at his paintings, we think color (!!!), Cubism, texture, and how among all of this chaos is there such harmony? Tom paints like a jazz musician improvising from one scale to the next. A flurry of notes here and a contrasting tone there. So many of the painters we love have painted in Maine. Let's add Tom to the list! 

See his full portfolio of paintings on Sugarlift here 

LIVES & WORKS IN  Yarmouth, Maine


ON THE CLOCK  Can someone please add another 5 hours to the day?

YOUR ART WEEKEND  Building stretchers, stretching canvas. Busy work.

ALBUM  "Bootstraps" by Bootstraps

FILM  Moonstruck

ARTIST  de Kooning

BOOK  Currently, "The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art" by Sebastian Smee

EATS  Coffee, Beer and Half-n-Half

LATEST PURCHASE  70 sheets of drawing paper

GUILTY PLEASURE  Painting in my bare feet.


36 HOURS  Studio – Walk – Music – Nap ( not necessarily in that order)

Tom Flanagan abstract painter painting Maine

You mentioned that improvisation in painting can be analogous to jazz music -- how do you think about the visual language you’ve developed (vs scales!), including your beautiful use of color?

I listen to a lot of music when I work. I often think about how a jazz musician pulls together notes and builds a kind of narrative with the three or four minutes they have to grab their audience. Visual artists have the same challenge. I want to give my audience something to look at and hopefully walk away with. Color is one of the most complex and interesting parts of what I do. For me, when a drawing or painting is finished it needs to be a kind of finger print. Completely different from any other piece and completely my own.

Tom Flanagan abstract painter paintings MaineWho are some of your influences in art history, and as a Maine based painter, are there any artists who painted in Maine who also influence your work?

Pollack, de Kooning, Gorky, Picasso, Kandinsky, Davis, Matisse, Mitchell. If we’re talking about gutsy artists with a Maine connection, I have to say Louise Nevelson. Some of her monumental black sculptures/paintings take my breath away.