At what age did you discover your interest in art?
To be honest I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art. Even as a kid I had books with all the paintings of Turner and Constable which were always a massive inspiration to me.
Did you have an art education? Do you think you would be as successful without it?
Yes, I did my art A-level, then a course at Lincoln College of Art. I don’t really think an art education makes any difference because you are not taught colour mixing or brush strokes etc. at college. You are really just encouraged to do your own thing. Also, I spent most of the years having a good time and being fairly drunk. It was a long time ago after all.
Who were your biggest influences in your formative years?
Obviously, Turner and Constable were influential because, as a landscape artist, who could fail to be inspired by either of them? Two more modern day artists are Edward Seago and Rowland Hilder. In the case of Seago, a very simplistic swish of a brush becomes a cow in the landscape and the sense of distance and depth in what could so easily be a flat. Norfolk landscape is just magical. Rowland Hilder’s very stylised use of sharp light and darks I find incredible.
When did you start your career as an artist?
Even as a young man of 15 and beyond, I always painted and sold in local galleries whilst doing many of the other careers that I had. And in the early 80s, the National Coal Board started to commission lots of paintings from me. These were always grimy looking pit scenes or pit villages. They even paid for my first one man show, framing and all, at the Headrow Gallery in Leeds. This was opened by the Lord Major of Leeds and featured on Yorkshire TV, all because of the pull of the NCB. There were 69 paintings in the two-week exhibition and all of them sold on the preview night! It was some years later however that I decided to take the plunge, so about 30 years ago, and work full time as an artist. And I haven’t stopped since.
What were your biggest challenges in building your career?
Making enough money. This may sound awfully mercenary but, even if you have the passion that it takes to become a full-time artist, it’s still your job and you have to make enough money to survive. Otherwise, you are not doing the right job. Having been self-employed for a number of years before this, I was never going to sit in a field and paint pretty pictures in the hope of selling one. I wrote myself a list of aims and objectives to achieve within certain time scales because that’s when the money would run out.
What were the joys?
I’ve always felt such a privileged person, in that someone whom I don’t know is willing to part with their hard-earned money to buy one of my paintings. I also appreciate the look on people’s faces during exhibitions when they see a painting which really strikes a chord with them.
What have you found to be integral in your growth and success as an artist?
Work, dedication, and a determination not to give up. Diversification, going into other parts of the art world and having ultimate confidence that you can actually do this thing.
I understand you are quite a busy man. Besides painting, you are an author, an art teacher and have worked on television. How do you manage all your activities?
To be honest, I’m really lucky because I don’t really organise anything. Gail, who runs everything, simply tells me what I am doing and, as ever, I always do what I am told. The TV thing was what started it all off once I decided to take the plunge and it was simply a matter of right place, right time. I started off on Tyne Tees TV with a 6 minute item on the regional news program. They had decided to do 6 of these items to test the popularity of them and I ended up making 200. After this, they went to half hour programs and then eventually I made programs for Discovery TV. In the midst of all this, Daler Rowney decided to get involved with me and the rest is history, so they say. I drive 40,000 miles a year (when there isn’t a pandemic).
How do you cultivate your audience, collectors and students?
Word of mouth and the help of YouTube and Twitter, as well as my website. I also demonstrate for Daler Rowney, write books published by Search Press and teach at art societies as well as on our own organised painting holidays which are usually fully booked as soon as they go onto the website.
How does your busy career impact your personal and social relationships?
Many of my friends are artists and I’ve met some lovely people along the way who have become friends, because of my career.
How does your art contribute to society?
That’s a bit of a strange question and I don’t really know how to answer it apart from to say that a recent phenomenon has been many people taking up art during the recent pandemic and thanking me for inspiring and teaching them via my books and YouTube. I feel I have made art accessible to them. At the start of the pandemic, I had an email from YouTube congratulating me on reaching 10,000 subscribers. As of today, it stands at 32,200 subscribers. So, I must have done something right along the way!
When did you start contributing to the TAE and what motivated you?
To tell the truth, I don’t know how many years it’s been, but quite a few. If what I do for a living can benefit any good and meaningful cause, then I am always going to be up for it.
Are you involved in similar projects, contributing to fund raising or community development?
I’ve been involved with quite a few causes over the years and will give my art for any fund-raising which, as I previously stated, is for a good and worthy cause. The recent charity, of which I am particularly proud, is the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) getting in touch to ask if they could use my paintings for their fundraising with all of the various methods they use for the images, such as prints, greeting cards, posters... whatever. I’ve done quite a lot of lifeboat paintings showing horrific, tumultuous seas. I’ll send one so you can see what I mean.
How has contributing benefited you as an artist?
As a career move, I have no idea. Because, without being glib, one thing seems to merge into the other in a never-ending circle of paintings. I can only speak on a personal level, and that is that it gives me a good feeling to know I have done something for someone else. I suppose you can summarise it by saying it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling!
Is there anything else you would like to share to the TAE Blog readers?
Yes, I feel that art, in general, can sometimes have a bit of an elitist feel to it. That’s why I use terminology such as “whack this colour on here”, “splash a bit on there” or “a few daubs of this”, because that is genuinely how I feel about it. I enjoy every painting I do. I might not like the end result, but I have enjoyed the process. People who are put off by terminology and intimidated by art and painting need not worry when it comes to my kind of teaching because I’m just having the time of my life, and I like to make sure that anyone who is painting with me has the same. When it comes to finished and framed paintings, they double in price once galleries get hold of them. It’s not me charging high prices because I firmly believe that everyone should be able to afford original art on their walls. That’s why I deliberately keep my prices low. After all, all it’s cost me is my time, and I’ve enjoyed that time.
You can find out more about Charles Evans on his website www.charlesevansart.com.