Artist Interview with Charles Williams
What is your first memory of realizing when you wanted to become an artist?
By the time I was only 4 years old I enjoyed playing with Legos and by 2nd grade I began drawing Lego designs of imaginary cities and buildings and also copied some of the advertisements on Lego packaging. A few years later, while we were walking along Front Street in downtown Georgetown, my mother asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I pointed to the boats on the river and told her, “When I grow up, I want to paint those.”
How do you decide on your medium?
I decide on the medium mainly by determining the look I am trying to achieve in the finished artwork, or I might choose to experiment, but when I’m working on a study I usually use either watercolor or graphite for the easy flow and the freedom to make mistakes.
How do you make your decision on the scale of your work?
Imagining how the scale of a piece would affect me as the viewer helps me decide.
Do you work mostly from photographs?
Yes, I use several photographs as a reference for color, composition, etc and execute each part on panel.
When do you know your piece is done?
I stop when I realize that more detail will not improve the work and since that depends on my technical skill and the way I compose the piece, in theory, perhaps nothing is ever really 100% done.
How do you come up with ideas for your art?
Lately I am inspired by trips to the ocean, but my works are also my best effort to capture and express human emotions as I experience them.
If you get stuck for inspiration, what do you do?
Look at work by artists that I admire as well as by spending more time outside, especially near oceans, rivers, marshes and the beach.
Are there any artists that have influenced you? If so, in what way?
Andrew Wyeth – his book “Memory and Magic” is one of my favorites. His paintings are not just only beautifully executed, but each piece tells a story and captures you as if you were there. Andrew Wyeth’s work has been my benchmark for years and continues to inspire me to push myself to a higher level.
Chloe Early – her work inspires me because of her soulful and well executed expression of emotions and the narratives that she creates. I’m inspired by her skills and admire her for her boldness in paintings from color selection to striking composition choices.
Eric Zener - As an artist he influences me and his work always places me in, under or near water. Each piece is a moment in time. As an artist, his story is similar to mine, and I’m inspired to follow in his footsteps.
Kehinde Wiley – As artist and an educator his career has been an inspiration to me as well as his creative process. Although his work is completely different than what I would paint, the idea, the process and the story is what’s compelling, which is empowering for an African American artist like me.
Mary Whyte – I met her when I was in 8th grade and have been in love with her work ever since. As an artist, she is very humble and reflects the pure essence of grace by painting what she loves and to me that’s precious. Continuing to follow your own path, doing what you love and believing in that is what makes us as artists unique, and I find that in her.
How did you get your art out to the public?
By consistently researching opportunities for competition and display, for example in group shows and art fairs and by marketing my work to individual collectors and seeking commissions.
Do you have a gallery? How did you start a relationship with them?
Yes, Robert Lange Studios, 2 Queen Street, Charleston, SC
I started a relationship with them by visits to the gallery. After the owners became familiar with my work, they invited me to contribute and join their team of excellent artists.
What is the hardest thing about working with a gallery?
Keeping up with the requests for new work.
Did you always want to teach?
No, I was afraid that teaching would take up too much of my limited time, but as my desire to teach grew, I worked to find a balance.
What is the best part about teaching?
Inspiring others and helping to cultivate a strong passion for creating art, just as those who once inspired me to pursue a career in art.
Is there any advice you would give to a young artist starting out?
Develop a positive attitude about learning the business aspects of becoming a successful artist – learn to promote yourself and your art.
What do you see as a pitfall that young artists aren’t prepared for?
They aren’t prepared for the business side of being an artist.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Being a full-time professional artist provides me with the satisfaction of following my passion, which means that I enjoy making other people happy by doing what I love to do.