Larger-than-life art by Christopher Still
Florida artist Christopher Still told his mother at four years old, “I’m going to be an artist.” Now his collection of Florida-themed murals hang in the House Chambers of the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee.
His artwork was selected during a national search headed up by then Speaker of the House, the Honorable John Thrasher. It took Still nearly four years to complete the commissioned murals, and he chose to take the eight designated spaces and turn them into windows into Florida’s rich and varied past. “I sought out historians with expertise in the time periods I wanted to feature and began making lists of artifacts that seemed to best symbolize each period,” Still explains.
He also travelled around the country to collect the historic items he chose to depict, using a mobile stage to ensure correct scale. In addition to the eight original murals, two more were added to depict Florida’s salt water and fresh water habitats.
His parents and grandparents were artists, Still points out, so he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t involved in art. His mother kept a drawing he completed at four, the same age when he made his declaration.
Still also took classes from a young age at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art and the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Then he received a full scholarship from Scholastic Art Awards to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. While at the academy, he was able to apprentice in traditional techniques in Europe.
His training lends itself to his current style, which features traditional oil painting techniques that combine with the 17th- and 18th-century techniques he learned in Europe. Still also utilizes the American Impressionist techniques he picked up from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. “The older I get, the more I realize the unique opportunity I had to study with profoundly talented and patient teachers both in the states and in Europe,” Still says. “Each of my teachers helped me to learn how to observe the beauty of what is in front of me.”
When he returned to Florida, he did so with a new understanding not only of art, but also of his home state. “Having traveled more made me realize all the more what a unique and beautiful place we live in,” he states. “Those experiences only solidified my choice to live and work in Florida.”
Still’s other collections have been featured in places like the Florida Governor’s Mansion, the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs, the St. Petersburg City Hall, the Tampa International Airport, Ruth Eckerd Hall, and the Sandpearl Resort.
He expects his newest exhibition, featuring sacred and inspirational sites throughout Florida, to debut in fall 2015 at the Christopher Still Studio of Fine Painting in Tarpon Springs. Those interested in the collection can visit www.christopherstill.com for more information. When asked about his inspiration for his Florida- and agricultural-themed works, Still conveys, “I think there is nothing that symbolizes the beauty of Florida more than the people who love and work the land.”