What’s his story?


One of my favorite pastimes is to pick a random person, someone unknown to me, and to think to myself, “what’s their story?” It gives me an opportunity, albeit completely in my mind, to try and put myself into someone else’s shoes, and imagine their story. I might see a couple sitting on a park bench and think to myself, “he has the ring in his pocket. He’s known she was the one since the first date, and he’s finally ready to pop the question”. Or, I may see a young boy using a small stick as a laser blaster or sword, “he’s blasting storm troopers, or slaying members of the foot clan!”

I feel that, so often, the story behind a piece of art enlightens us to so much more about both the artist and the subject. In writing these blog posts for Chris, I have been able to get a lot of the “why behind the what” for many of the paintings that I’ve written about. How great would it be if we were about to know the truth behind the half smile of The Mona Lisa, or what The Thinker was actually thinking about?

I want to leave you with a question about the man pictured in the painting above. What is his story? Why might Chris have painted him sitting at the bus stop, with a sign for the drivers license station being in close proximity? How old is he? Why isn’t he driving? Comment below, and let us know what you think!

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

Ponte Vedra



With all of this talk of snow, I felt the need to dig into Chris’ “Works On Paper” category of his website to find something to take my mind off of the chill in the air.

This original painting on paper that Made is a wonderful ocean scene that makes me wish that I was sitting on a beach chair, smelling the salt air, and sipping one of those frozen drinks with the little bamboo umbrellas in it! I particularly like the effects that he created with the waves rolling into the shore. I just might have to fly south for the winter!

When I spoke to Chris about the “Works on Paper” section of his work, he explained it to me. He told me that sometimes, he uses works on paper to begin to brainstorm and draft out one of his larger paintings before he commits it to canvas. Other times, he simply uses the paper projects to express a moment in time and theme that he experienced.

I like browsing through this section of his work, because it continues to showcase just how versatile he is as an artist, and how the subject matter that he chooses to feature is not limited to any one particular genre or style.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.



Water’s Edge



If you follow this blog, or know Chris at all, you know two truths about him that stand out almost immediately. He is a gifted and talented creator (websites, sketches, paintings, etc) and he loves technology. He has been in on the forefront of website development and marketing since its early days in the 90’s. He has been able to showcase much of his creative talent by featuring his original artwork here at Madison Studios.

The painting above is a great example of Chris’ ability to fuse his talents with art and technology. The process behind this piece, and others like it, is intriguing. It began with a digital image that he took with a camera. He then imported it into a creative software program that he has (much like the ones you’ve seen the Pixar employees working on in the behind the scenes featurettes of your favorite movies). From there, he began to overlay digital “brushstrokes” onto the original image, using the photo as his guideline for creating the new painting.

This fusion of creative ability and harnessing technology is a large factor to what I feel makes Chris’ gift so special. His abilities are so diverse and broad that he is not limited to any one particular style, medium, or subject matter. He has been able to utilize the full gamut of his skills to create artwork that is beautiful and incorporates his diverse talents and abilities.

In short, this style of creating paintings is very indicative of who Chris is, both as an individual and as an artist. He’s able to combine much of today’s technology with the techniques and styles of traditional art into something new and exciting. I believe that being true to the old, while embracing new and current technologies and programs is the true path to consistent success in art, as is the case in many other aspects of life…

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

The Studios



There is something truly special and captivating about the buildings and storefronts of downtown Madison, GA, and the storefront of Madison Studios is no exception. There is a rich and storied history that is contained in each of the buildings. I love speaking with people who have lived in Madison longer than I have to get stories of what used to be in buildings in years past. The plaque outside of the office reads “The Hardware Bldg.”, so I assume that this might have been the original site for the hardware store before it moved to the old Livery Stable.

Chris painted this watercolor painting from a photograph that he took of the storefront. When he and I spoke about it, he mentioned that it definitely had a “photo” feel to it, meaning that the lines were much more pronounced and the angles of the awning were more severe than if he’d painted it from memory. Whenever I see it hanging in the office, I can’t help but think that it could easily be mistaken for a photo. It’s an amazing testament to Chris’ artistic ability. It is very reminiscent of the painting of the old barbershop that he painted.

Realism is a style of artwork that I don’t think that I would be very good at, therefore, I appreciate it all the more when I see an artist that has captured an image like Chris has here. This is just awesome.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.


Still Life:


When I think back to art class when I was in school, I typically think about the times that we’d “study” still life artists, and begin to dabble into creating our own still life images. It seems that this is probably one of the purest forms of art; to take an item (or two) and capture it on canvas in a way that represents it well. I’ve seen some that looked so realistic that one might not believe that they weren’t photographs. I’ve seen others that resemble more so something that my “artistic” mind and hands would have created.

That being said, Chris used this painting as an opportunity to showcase his tools as an artist, and to express himself in a popular style of painting.

I really like this picture; this may be in large part due to the fact that blue is one of my favorite colors. Another reason that I like it so much is that I don’t have to analyze this kind of art too much. I simply get to look at it, take it in, and appreciate it for what it is. I can see it, and know immediately that the artist was taking an opportunity to capture his pliers and a tube of paint. One does not have to read into thoughts like “why did the artist use the color blue right here?” or “what does the position of the pliers say about the feminist movement or the war on terror?”

Art is beautiful and expressive. I love Chris’ style and ability to showcase so much with varied styles, subject matters, and mediums in his work. Being surrounded by it each time I sit down to write one of the posts, I never get bored or feel like I’ve seen all that there is to see in his works. As a viewer/consumer, that is important to me.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.


Crab Apple Tree



The south is full of interesting people, many of whom have amazing stories to tell. Farmers, dairymen, mechanics, doctors, teachers, veterans, and the like are all over little towns here in the south. One such man is affectionately known as “Mr. Charlie” to Chris. Chris spent some time shadowing and talking with Mr. Charlie, listening to stories, and snapping pictures as he walked and worked around his property. It was an afternoon full of memories and moments that I am sure Chris remembers even today.

I like the way that Chris captured this moment. The greens of the pasture and the leaves of the tree, and the roundness of the apples remind me of time spent on some family property, walking fence lines and throwing crab apples at my brother. The fruit of the tree was always temperamental, almost never “just right”; most often, a taste would result in a puckered face and an exclamation of displeasure.

The folds of Mr. Charlie’s bag and clothing almost seem to mirror the folds and wrinkles in his arms and face. Both are weathered and worn by time, but still work well, and serve a great purpose. From this angle, Mr. Charlie could remind just about anyone around these parts of an uncle, a grandfather, a neighbor, or a friend.

People from Mr. Charlie’s generation are a different breed altogether. They knew more about living off of the land, living a frugal life, and enjoying moments for what they are than any generation after probably ever will. They came from a much simpler time. Chris did a great job of capturing the essence of what Mr. Charlie, and the people like him stand for; a little worn and somewhat broken down, but still full of life, energy, and wisdom that extend far beyond their time. The amount of life held within the years of men and women like Mr. Charlie is something for all of us to remember, revere, and admire.

What are the memories that this painting evokes for you?

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.


Southern Artist: Chris and Mike



Chris Cook is a dear friend of mine, a member of the congregation at my church, and the father of two young boys who are active and involved in the children’s and youth ministry where I serve on staff. In addition to all of that, he is also my employer; part of my job is to write blog posts about his works of art in an effort to increase awareness of his paintings, and develop a following within the art community. I say all of this to tell you that there are certain paintings that are easier than others to write about than others;

Many of them are of a spiritual nature, which makes it easy for a youth pastor to find content.

Some of them are abstract, which stretches this simple minded Georgia boy a little bit to “understand” and “explain” them,

A lot of them blend styles and themes from popular artists like da Vinci and Picasso, forcing me to dig deep down to the “fine art” exposure that I’ve had in the past, and to remember what my teachers taught us about back in grade school.

And then, there are paintings like this, where Chris has captured a very personal moment with him and his older brother Mike. How do I even begin to write about these two boys, of which I know very little? What can I say about this piece of art that my boss made to express his bond with his brother as they grew up in the Conyers area? What do begin to say about his expression of colors, the blending of mediums, and styles? And, more importantly, how about the overalls that chris has on!? 😉

The truth is, I really do like this painting.

Artistically – Chris sketched this out based on an old photograph that he had of him and Mike taken some years back. He’s told me that he doesn’t do a lot of pencil sketches, so this one must be important. The article in the paper was glued on, in an effort to re-establish the “Georgian” childhood. The colors were all sort of free formed around the sketch and paper article. Overall, I think it works really well to come together into an impressive work of art.

Personally – The two boys could just as easily be my brother Luke and me, or any other little boys growing up in rural Georgia. Chris shared that “Mike was probably about to load me into a wagon and send me down the street to get rid of me”, a thought that I can sympathize with as a little brother. I can recall many “rainy nights in Georgia” full of good sleep. The picture is fun to look at, because of the successful blending of colors and styles. I really like this work of art.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.









Frida Lisa


Let me start by saying that this picture makes me smile! I believe that evoking emotion is a very big part of why artist create, and this one is sure to spark a gamut of emotions from art fans everywhere.

This painting has a lot to say. My fist thought in viewing it is how similar it is to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Chris is a tremendously talented artist, and captures a lot of the essence of the 16th century masterpiece. The second, and probably the most prominent feature of the work is the placement of Frida Kahlo’s face where Lisa’s once was.

Knowing Chris, and his affinity for art history, and classical paintings gives me a bit of insight into this work. I think that it is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way for chris to make a statement about conventional art, generational “masterpieces” and traditional acceptance of beauty and what “art” can be. I think he takes a stab (a very creative and well executed stab, mind you) at juxtaposing what many might see as two conflicting styles of artwork into one piece. The traditional and classic approach of da Vinci’s work paired with Kahlo’s vibrant and expressive style (not to mention the placement of her eyebrow(s)) speaks volumes.

Chris is a southern artist, but his work is anything but compartmentalized by his geographic location. He boasts a collection of art history books that would rival that of any local library, and he greatly enjoys art from a consumer’s standpoint as well as that of a creator. I think that this piece is a great testament to his knowledge, versatility, and talent as an artist.

Take a look. What do you think? What do you see? How does this painting make you feel?

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

The blue barber shop: Streets of Madison



I have lived in Madison for 20+ years. A lot of things have changed in that time. A lot of businesses have come and gone.


People have moved in…People have moved out…People have passed on…


Through all of the changes that have taken place, there is one part of Madison that has stayed pretty constant (probably due in large part to the efforts of the Morgan County Historical Society) is the look & feel of the city streets in downtown. Riding down Main Street in Madison, GA hasn’t changed very much at all in my 27 years, and from what i’ve gathered it hasn’t changed much at all for a very long time. I think that Chris was able to capture the essence of this block of Main St. very well in this painting. It is a good representation of a Southern artist capturing a glimpse of a place near and dear to his heart.

One of my childhood memories of Madison was sitting in the barber’s chair at the Bulldog Barber Shop on Main Street. I can still remember seeing the bulldog statue, smelling the oiled clippers and freshly cut hair, and hearing the snips of scissors trimming away as I sat in the large leather chair, robed in a smock with a paper turtle-neck to keep the hairs out of my collar. My absolute favorite memory of that barber shop on main street, was knowing that after i’d been still and quiet long enough to get my haircut, the barber would open his desk drawer and hand me a penny so that I could take it over to the gum ball machine and get my prize.

It’s funny to me how much has changed all around the world in my 27 years on the 3rd rock from the sun. What cherish and treasure, however, is the regularity, and consistent beauty that surrounds downtown Madison. The memories that are maintained through the preservation of the homes and buildings of Madison may never be fully understood or appreciated by anyone other than a Madisonian, and I for one am glad and proud to be a part of the glorious stories that are held within.



Jed Hanes


For more information on the artist, Chris Cook, click HERE.





Historic Madison



Madison, GA. – A quaint historic city nestled halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, full of beautiful antebellum homes and pieces of Southern history. Growing up in Madison, I never really understood or appreciated just how beautiful the homes and streets were, and how historically significant the town really is. We all got the “Joshua Hill talked Sherman out of burning the town on his ‘March to the Sea’ ” talk when we were in school, but none of us were really able to grasp all that lies in the history of Madison, GA.

Something else that is unique to living in a town like Madison is the number of tourists, artists, photographers, and other onlookers who spent their afternoons and weekends wandering down the city streets, snapping pictures and taking in the memories of the historic homes and storefronts that the city has to offer. There is no telling how many artists have captured the essence of downtown Madison over the past 200 or so years.

This particular building holds a special place in my heart, as it is located next door to Madison First UMC, my home church. Heritage Hall is a hub for the Historical Society of Madison. The Greek Revival home is a great testament to the Antebellum architecture that permeates Madison, GA year round. There is truly something special about standing in and seeing homes that have been around since the 1830’s.

I think that this piece does a great job of capturing the grandeur of Heritage Hall, and the true spirit of antebellum Madison. When I see it, I am reminded of how truly fortunate Madisonians are to have such rich history all around us. It also serves as a reminder of the timeless beauty and art that are expressed in antebellum architecture.

– Jed Hanes


More Information about the artist, Chris Cook, can be found at http://www.chriscookartist.com/bio.html

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