Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles on where to “shop local, shop small” in and around Waynesboro.
WAYNESBORO—A few years ago, Carl Lewis was just another man, husband and dad. Today, he is “Flow OG,” a popular local artist whose work can be found across the region.
“It got started three years ago,” Lewis recalled. “I wanted to do something nice for my wife and a local lady was hosting a class. We went there and both did two paintings and had a blast. I fell in love with it. It felt really good.”
From dark to light
Lewis, 41, grew up in Hagerstown. He and his wife have four children and a grandchild.
“I hurt my back in 2014 and that’s when my whole world got turned upside down,” Lewis said. “I had three surgeries. I was a welder. The doctor told me I’d never be able to weld again.”
So Lewis turned to art to fill the void.
“I’m kinda glad all that stuff happened. It changed everything to the good. It got rough. The art really helped me.”
Flow painting, or acrylic paint pouring, is a fluid painting technique that allows artists to mix colors and styles on a canvas, and Lewis is on a mission to not only master it but share the technique with others.
He followed up on the art class with a trip to the craft store for supplies.
“I kept doing the same thing I was taught in that class,” Lewis recalled. “I wanted more.
I started watching YouTube videos and it got to the point where I had too many paintings.”
That’s when he decided to turn his newfound passion into a business by selling his work.
“The name was the hardest part. I always say when I’m painting, ‘you’ve gotta go with the flow.’ That was a big thing,” he explained.
“OG” is slang moniker for someone who is authentic or “old-school.” And that’s how Flow OG began.
Painting a new career
Although lots of people try flow painting, Lewis has found there are definitely benefits to studying and refining the art.
“There’s a lot more to this than dumping your colors into a cup—what matches what doesn’t match, the density of the paint … if I can’t buy the color, I can make the color myself,” he said. “I put my heart and soul into every piece of what I do, from mixing the paint till the very end.”
And he has discovered the paint method works not just on canvas, but on other materials as well.
“I don’t do just canvases, there’s TV dinner trays, rolling trays, light switch covers, toilet seat covers, jewelry, Halloween masks, pretty much everything,” he said. “Canvases are cool, but functional art—if you can use it and it looks awesome, that’s a double win.”
Each piece is unique, Lewis said.
“Every single painting is original. No two are the same. I can take paint and do the same colors, and the same style and not get the same results,” he said. “I did a painting at the beginning of the pandemic for the Chambersburg Hospital Emergency Room nursing staff to relax them. It’s an ocean theme. I’ve tried to recreate it. It’s impossible.”
Timing varies upon piece as well.
“If you’re doing a basic one, it could take 10 minutes. But you can do other things to add to your painting … and that could take hours,” he explained. “Then you have to let it dry and cure before you can seal it.”
Coloring the world
Lewis said the next step in his art career was to get the word out and share his love of art with others.
Lewis has also participated in the downtown market has some of his work at True Value Hardware and Lokyl Vapors.
So far, social media—including Facebook, Instgram, Etsy and TikTok—has provided the most recognition for his work.
“When I do TikTok, I treat it as if I’m doing a class. I talk to them and interact with them and tell them what I’m doing and ask questions,” he explained. “Sometimes there’s interaction, sometimes there’s not. Sometimes I get engrossed in what I’m doing and not talk, so I have a friend who moderates.”
Lewis is also looking for a place to teach and to show his art.
“I’m focused on a gallery. I want to level up,” he said. “I want to reach a different crowd and try some new things.”
Whether looking to buy art or take lessons, “FlowOG” said he’s here to help.
Lewis said he believes everyone should try flow painting because it can be good for whatever ails you.
“I’m one of those people when something helps me, I want to show the world,” he said. “I want everybody to feel what I’m feeling. The world is a crazy place where a lot of things happen. When you get the feeling you can get from art, it’s amazing.”