“Everything comes in waves,” local artist Matthew Flynn said.
A 31-year-old Round Rock resident, raised in Cedar Park, Matthew Flynn paints feelings, thoughts, ideas and obsessions with hard lines, soft colors and a psychedelic aesthetic.
Cedar Park Pottery featured Flynn’s “Birds of Texas” series, which included accurate-representations of Texas birds and a couple of dinosaurs that roamed through the area long ago, during October. However, Flynn has been an artist for as long as he can remember —- even with some standstills mixed into the timeline, here and there ... for depth.
“I had been artistic since elementary school, just always drawing dinosaurs and always into color,” Flynn said. “I was always getting in trouble for drawing on my wall. In fact, once, I did it with Sharpie, and my dad was really mad.”
Flynn continues to use colored Sharpies in several of his works, along with watercolors.
“Almost exclusively, I use my big box of Sharpies and my watercolors,” Flynn said. “I’ve been using the same watercolor palette since I started painting again. It ensures that all of my paintings have the same color scheme because I want people to see one of my paintings and know that Matt Flynn did this.”
Flynn said the “Birds of Texas” series came after a six-month art hiatus and stemmed from his love for dinosaurs. While watching a YouTube video, Flynn said he remembered how much he loved dinosaurs when he was a child, so much so that he was reading college-level textbooks about the prehistoric creatures in middle school.
“When I got back into dinosaurs and the natural world, I got back into painting because I found myself wanting to see how I envisioned the dinosaurs —- not maybe how someone else did,” Flynn said. “You’re always looking at someone else’s interpretation, and maybe I have my own idea on what color scheme they had or what types of feathers they had and where.”
Flynn said he loves that birds are dinosaurs, and that’s why he got really big into painting them for that series. He did 14 bird paintings for the series, most on 8 x 10 canvas, along with a couple of dinosaurs.
“We know what the color and patterning of at least a handful of dinosaurs, which is mind-blowing,” Flynn said. “The way that worked was fossils … Lithographic limestone is really good at preserving stuff, so if they find a feather impression, they’re able to look at what size or shape the chromatofores were in the feather and compare that with modern animals and know that this would have been a reddish color or this would have been a shiny black color.”
Some dinosaurs look like modern-day animals and not at all like the dinosaurs we usually picture in our head, Flynn said.
“They looks so cute and adorable, and they look like regular animals,” he said. “Microraptors look like crows. They had the shiny black feathers. Birds still have these designs and these patterns, and they are closely related. So when I painted the Dilophosaurus, I painted it leopard print because leopards have prints, why wouldn’t this thing?”
Flynn admittedly gets bored easy. He has gone through several different waves of art, from his original psychedelic art in what he calls his “Little” series to doing pop art, often related to horror movies, to reference-based dinosaurs and birds … from working on small canvas to big 2 ft. x 4 ft. wood pieces painted with house paint, from watercolors to acrylics and back again. Flynn has stumbled back to his roots by continuing the “Little” series, with his most recent work.
“It’s just a little boy with something going on in the background,” Flynn said. “That’s basically what all of my paintings are … my feelings. I guess you could say that I’m the little boy, but I would like to think that anyone can be him.”
After doing the “Birds of Texas” series, Flynn said he is trying to get back into the less grounded, psychedelic art, like his early work.
“It doesn’t matter as much if I made a mistake because it’s not like I need to erase this anatomical inaccuracy,” Flynn said. “Draw more lines, put another mushroom in front of it. No one will notice.”
When someone buys a painting that is not based on reference material, but rather something that just happened upon the canvas out of his own imagination, Flynn said he feels a deeper connection to others.
“It’s a much better feeling when someone sees something you created and wants to buy it from when your brain shat on the page,” Flynn said. “That’s a true, primal, tribal connection with another person because this is the real Matt. That’s what you’re getting there.”
Flynn said his favorite artist is animator Winsor McCay, who is most notably famous for "Gertie the Dinosaur" —- which is considered one of the first cartoons. Mckay also created a "Little Nemo Adventures in Slumberland" comic that went on to become an NES game —- Flynn’s first introduction to it and an idea that became so ingrained in him that his psychedelic art, especially the “Little” series has a similar theme.
“(In the game) You’re a little boy in pajamas, running around, throwing candy at monsters and trying to get through the nightmare world,” Flynn said.
Flynn said other than connecting with people on a deep level, he wants his art to inspire thinking.
“This is going to sound bad, but I don’t feel like people think enough,” Flynn said. “They just exist. So if I can make someone think about something, anything … then that’s awesome.”
To view or purchase Flynn’s artwork, visit his Instagram @matthewdennisflynnart.
Flynn lives with his wife, Stephanie Sanders Flynn, three cats and a dog and currently works for Texas Red Entertainment, hosting trivia at local watering holes a few nights each week.