I got to interview Charles Williams who is an amazing landscape/seascape painter. Check out his work at http://cewpaintings.4ormat.com
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.
William M. Ruller, Born in Gloversville NY, 1981 received a B.A. in painting and ceramics from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 2007. Following his undergraduate degree, Ruller moved to Oregon where he worked as a production potter and ceramics instructor. He now currently resides in Savannah G.A. where he is working on his Masters in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
The abandoned mills and tanneries of my youth and the dilapidated areas of metropolitan and rural sites, with its rust grey tones inform the visual and aesthetic language present in my work. These residual sites serve as the foundation for the work, which allows for a reinterpretation of the space into a abstracted images. The evidence of physical and experiential textures of crumbled brick and concrete serve to represent the frailties of humanity; and the erosion of lives that once existed.
1. How do you make your decision on the scale of your work?
For the most part I generally as of recent go for a little longer scale just to reinforce the idea of landscape.
2. What inspired you to make the books? Are those made with the same materials and you’re other works?
The books came out of the idea of knowledge, and recording information. I wanted them to be like diaries of the human condition. I use the same material in them as I do the larger works, really for the fact that the books informed the paintings completely. The books from the idea of trying to change my work and create a physical thing. Then I realized that I could do that with the actual paintings themselves.
3. What inspires your color choices/palette? I know the statement on your website mentions it but see the transition from grays to the use of blues and was wondering if something specific inspired that.
Color, I try to stay away from color. I think a lot of painters think they understand color and I think most don’t, I am in the camp of not understanding it. That’s why I try to stick with mostly greys, but with the blue in the last body of work I was thinking a lot about death and water, that’s where the blue came from. I wanted it to change a litte from most of my other work, to try and be subtle and very smart and minimal with the other colors that I added (browns, reds, purples) just to try and give a little something more.
4. How much planning and/or research goes into your work?
Most of my work is based on my hometown, so I really try not to plan or research, that’s too much like homework.
5. What are some of the things that people guess the work is about/what are some memorable responses to your work?
To be frank most people never really tell me what they think it is, I have gotten people to tell me my work sets a mood, that is close to what I am going for. But a lot of people just say I like it or “no not for me” which I love that simple to the point form of honesty.
6. Is there anything that you’re unhappy with or working to change in your work?
I’m unhappy with a lot but I’m happy with a lot, I’m not a good painter I never really have been. I can’t sit down and make a masterpiece time and time again. I work like Picasso; I just try to make a lot, that way out of 20 at least 3 might be really good.
7. If you get stuck for inspiration, what do you do?
I have actually never gotten stuck so I cant really answer that question.
8. Are there any artists that have influenced you? If so, in what way?
This might be a long one, yes there are a lot of artist that have influenced me. I have been really influenced by, Turner and the Hudson River School of painting because I love their way of making these really romantic, dynamic paintings that just seem to want to explode at the seems. Franseco Clemente has been my favorite painter since I started school; the guy’s work just blows me away. Rothko for his use of painting to set a mood. More contemporary artists are people like Mike Nelson who is a brilliant installation artist, again he setts a great mood with his work, Huma Bhanha for her use of materials (if you ever get a chance to see this woman’s work go its amazing!). But mostly I have been influenced by writers and musicians, to be honest until I was close to 20 I really didn’t think people where “artists” besides Bob Ross and the animators for Disney. So when I started paintings all I had to go off was music and literature.
9. When did you first start showing your work?
I seriously started showing probably about 2 years out of undergrad so 2008, before then I wasn’t really good at it. School makes you think you don’t have to actually work at that side of the job.
10. Do you have a gallery? How did you start a relationship with them?
I did have two galleries back in 2010, and I actually just walked in and showed them my portfolio, very stupidly thinking that’s how things where done. But they seemed open to what I was doing and it worked out well until they both filed for bankruptcy.
11. Do you have frustrations and/or insecurities about your work or living as an artist?
I am plagued by insecurities; I really don’t think I will be able to live off painting alone, even though I am trying my hardest to make that happen.
12. Is there any advice you would give to a young artist starting out?
Advice I would give to younger artists starting out is to work hard, after undergrad they should try to get a shitty job and still try to make work at the same time, if they can get through that and still want to pursue a carrier then they have the appetite to continue.
13. What do you see as a pitfall that young artists aren’t prepared for?
Most young people don’t understand that the art world is a business, and its very cutthroat. They believe that you will get a gallery and everything will be all set, but that isn’t the way it works even artists that show in good galleries, are part of biennials etc. still struggle to make ends meat.
14. What’s the best thing about what you do?
The best part about making work is the fact that you are allowed to stay a child and do as you wish, make what you want for the rest of your life. That is so stupid its wonderful.
15. Work stems from his home town; shut down factory; work is like a friend who is beautiful but broken; romantic notion
16. work is made with oils on watercolor paper and crushed ceramics (first layer on watercolor paper is slip to give oils something to absorb into and results in more cracking and texture); dust and small fragments of ceramic fall off when paintings are moved/touched so they are never “finished” and in constant state of transition
When I visited his studio, I found out some other little tid bits about him that I also found interesting. He crushes up this ceramic piece by placing a wooden board on top of them and swiveling on it in order to crush it into the small fragments he uses in his paintings. I also works exclusively on the floor, comparing it to Pollock and drawing cartoons as a child. He used to live in OR and threw bowls and cups for tourists, living a self-proclaimed hippie life style which is also why he still wears crocs. He doesn’t think of himself as a painter or his work as paintings, he thinks of them more as objects that are constantly changing and evolving literally as the bits of clay and other materials flak off over time.