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Artist Interview: Charles Robertson

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Q&A With The Artist

Artist Interview: Charles Robertson

What are your ear­li­est mem­o­ries relat­ed to art?
When I was about 12 or 13 I did a pen­cil draw­ing of my aunts’ house in Mississippi.

How and when did you start becom­ing an artist yourself?
When I got out of the Air Force I returned to col­lege and acquired my degree in Adver­tis­ing Design. At that time around, 1969, we used a lot of mark­ers, dyes and water­col­ors. They were used to make quick illus­tra­tions of what the ad would look like. When I grad­u­at­ed I went to Hous­ton to make my for­tune. For­tu­nate­ly or unfor­tu­nate­ly that did not work out too well and I joined the police depart­ment. While there I redesigned the the offi­cial depart­ment seal, and start­ed paint­ing in water­col­or. In 32 years in the depart­ment I man­aged to sell a few wild life paintings.

What was the evo­lu­tion like toward find­ing your cur­rent voice and visu­al vocabulary?
In the mil­i­tary, as in the police depart­ment, there was­n’t a lot of room for mis­takes. I think that is where I start­ed to paint more real­is­ti­cal­ly and start­ed using the opaque water-based pig­ment, Gouache. After I retired I paint­ed a lit­tle bit here and there, not real­ly too sat­is­fied with the paint­ings. So I would Google dif­fer­ent pho­tos of wild life and dis­cov­ered that some of them had copy­right restric­tions. I went to some of the deal­ers and got per­mis­sion to use the pho­tos. Some required a small fee oth­ers just gave ver­bal agree­ments via e‑mail.

What is your process like?
After a few some­what real­is­tic paint­ings, I start­ed to see how I could make them look 3D. That’s when I bought an air brush to phase out the back­grounds. That was a rather inter­est­ing process to learn. After some harsh real­i­ties in the use of the air brush I could see some of what I thought I was look­ing for. I seemed to have evolved to how I paint now, which is to make the view­er feel the life of the ani­mal. And that is where my real sat­is­fac­tion comes from.

Is there any­thing from your artist state­ment that you wish to expound on, that you nor­mal­ly don’t have the chance to discuss?
Not really.

What do you try to con­trol in your sur­faces, and what do you leave to chance?
I try to con­trol all of the paint­ed sur­face. I was taught to nev­er leave any­thing to chance. As you can see from the paint­ings, I’m fair­ly meticulous.

Where do you see your work going from here?
I have no idea. At 75 I don’t see myself paint­ing for a liv­ing. I paint for my own enjoy­ment and let oth­ers decide what they want to do.


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