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Conversations with Christopher Best

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christopher Best.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My interest in art really began to pick up in high school.

I had a good art teacher and my parents were encouraging when it came to choosing the path of art. I had a strong affinity for drawing and painting, but no idea what I was going to do for a job. I decided to go to art school as academia at the time had little interest to me. I tried as many things as I could at art school from Architecture to Film.

All the while I had a nagging feeling, I felt a strong pull to get back to drawing and painting. I had a conversation with my parents on the phone about it. Turns out, they knew a professional artist and had recently started collecting his paintings. The pull was strong enough for me to leave the art school and develop a relationship with the artist who would become my mentor.

I studied outdoor painting by day and bussed/waited tables at night. This went on for years. I began to realize that this particular type of art, outdoor painting is much more of a marathon than a sprint. It really requires endurance and looking to the long game. I’ve had various part-time jobs through the years, from restaurants to manufacturing manikins.

Work that I had not much of an inclination toward but allowed me to walk the path of the artist and put in my time to learn my craft. I’ve been working in a vocational mindset in my craft for about 15 years now. When I met my wife who is a very skilled silver smith and jewelry designer, she convinced me to cut the chord and throw myself into painting full time, which I was eager to do.

We’ve been married 7 years now and about 5 of those have been spent doing art full time. The amount of work and time it takes to develop as a professional artist is really staggering. I really had very little idea of how much time and effort was needed. In a sense, I’m glad I didn’t know or things might be different. Through the years I’ve been in some quality galleries, and participated in competitions, and shows including one in Sweden.

It all comes back to the daily walk of the artist. Do your work, and do It to the best of your ability. And just keep trying to get better. That’s what I love about it.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I can’t say that it has been a smooth road, but it is scenic. One of the biggest challenges has been giving myself enough space and time to learn my craft (outdoor painting). It takes a long time to get a grounding in the fundamentals.

And during that time you still need a way to support yourself. You need to find jobs that can fit your needs as an artist while developing your art career. There are some sacrifices that have to be made as well. There are so many things that will distract you from the art. Some of these require attention, but many are distractions.

Knowing the difference between the two is not always straightforward. Something I’m working on now is learning to look longer down the road. I think having a clear picture of where you want to go helps with the struggles when they arrive.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a landscape and marine artist. The term “Plein-Air” applies to my work. It’s becoming a more widely known term that means “en open air” in French. I derive most of my ideas and inspiration directly from nature but I also work in the studio. I find that going out to find scenes and working directly from observation, then developing those ideas in my studio to be a good practice.

I really love to paint the Chesapeake Bay coastline where the water meets the landscape. This also incorporates boats and marine themes. I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake and an appreciation of its beauty has stuck with me. I have won awards and accolades, and I think they can be helpful. But If I had to say I was proud of something, I’d say my greatest accomplishment is that each day I go to work.

I haven’t been distracted by many things that could have pulled me away from what I’m doing. My goal is to leave the collector of the work with a tangible feeling of a connection with a creation that they can access at any time. I want the viewer to feel nature’s moods. I strive to make marks with my brush that will be a bridge between what I’m feeling in the presence of a scene and all who see the finished work.

I hope to make that connection for people. I also think it’s important to imply things and not state every detail. This allows the viewer to engage in the picture. I am known for “chunky” or “direct” brushwork. I try to let the human connection be seen through making it clear that this is made by a human with a brush.

I try to get away from the photographic look and let it be clear that this is the paint I’m using. While also being true to nature in as much as is useful to convey mood.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
There is an unexpected quality to Baltimore that is hard to describe. I find myself saying, “did I just see that?” more than I would expect. It keeps you on your toes.

I wouldn’t say that it’s a tame place. Kind of like a concrete jungle, full of beauty but you still need to be careful. This quality has its downside. It’s unfortunate to see people sleeping under bridges etc.

Pricing:

  • 8×10 $450
  • 11×14 $650
  • 16×20 $1050
  • 24×30 $1950
  • 5×5 $200

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