Aritst Studio | Malou Flato

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Tell me about your studio. I built the studio in 1992. What paid for it was a commission of five huge tile murals for grocery stores in Texas. My brother Ted is an architect, and he designed the studio. It’s a log cabin built from trees that had burned in a Yellowstone fire. We wanted to keep everything simple. It has a wood floor and a big north window.

Describe the grounds around the studio.
There is a garden in an old horse corral that was part of the property when my husband and I bought it. We grow poppies, delphinium, monkshood, and lettuce.

You come to Livingston every summer from your home in Austin, TX. Does your work change when you leave Texas?
This year the subject matter is staying the same, though it’s sure nice to leave 101-degree heat. I started an ocotillo cactus in Texas, and I rolled up the painting and brought it here. Lately I’m addicted to painting Texas images—cactus, bluebonnets, and ocotillo from the Pecos River. I like painting prickly things. What I’m really interested in is getting in and painting thorns, cactus blossoms, and even the little red spots in the middle of bluebonnets.

How do you describe the style of your work?
I used to call it impressionism. Lately, I’ve gotten much more detailed. I design paintings on the computer and I see those as more realistic. I have new big acrylic paintings on Japanese paper that I then mount on canvas. Once they are mounted they will be about 72 by 108 inches.

What inspires your work?
My own personality and what I see around me. Right now flowers are my main subject matter. When I paint these flowers, I am putting the way I feel about life into them. Sometimes it’s almost like a dance, putting lots of color down quickly. Then suddenly the whole painting comes alive. I start with the structure and then let it all flow.

Do you play music in the studio?
I usually listen to audio books. The summer before last I listened to books on Iraq. I like to listen to difficult books that I wouldn’t normally read. And if the book is good it always makes me get down to my studio quicker.

What do you do when you’re not painting?
I play bridge. Today I’m driving to a weeklong tournament in Helena. When I’m in Austin, I teach painting to a friend, and once a week she teaches me how to play bridge.

What is the one place people will never find you? On a ski slope. I used to ski and then I fell down. I couldn’t walk for a month. And that was end of skiing. I said, “Life is too short.” My husband, John, said to me, “If you fell down in a grocery store parking lot, would you stop going grocery shopping?”

Where do you take people when they visit? Yellowstone National Park or to eat out. We want people to come, but we like them to have their own agenda.


Visions West Galleries, Livingston and Bozeman, MT, and Denver, CO; Davis Gallery, Austin, TX; Hunt Gallery, San Antonio, TX;