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Charles, a versatile artist with diverse interests in media as well as subject matter, is known for his figurative paintings of people, wildlife and nature. Along with his extensive use of oils, he works in a unique medium of his invention known as Claybord. He has also been instrumental in developing new printmaking techniques and enjoys the third dimension of bronze sculpture.
Charles was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and now resides near the South San Juan mountains of Southern Colorado. An avid outdoorsman, Charles' paintings of nature and wildlife come largely from personal observation; each year spending many weeks on horseback in the nearby wilderness areas. Travels in Latin America and Europe have also offered much inspiration for his work. He is collected widely and shows in several Southwest galleries.
"The invention of Claybord as with most new products was developed out of necessity. I loved the scratchboard drawing technique, being able to create highlights by scratching off the black ink to expose the white clay underneath, however the traditional scratchboard left much to be desired as a fine art surface. It was much too fragile both in the versatility of technique as well as in framed presentation requiring one to glue the thin cardboard to a flat stiff hardboard to keep it flat and to protect the soft surface with glass.
I was able to eliminate these problems by developing a clay coated panel which, unlike scratchboard, would readily accept very wet applications of watermedia such as India ink washes without hurting the clay layer and which could simply be varnished and framed without glass like an oil painting. I made these panels for my own use one or two at a time for ten years before my wife and I decided to bring them to market, first making them on a very limited scale in an old adobe shed behind the house and later helping create Ampersand Art Supply in Austin, Texas to manufacture Claybord for the national and international art materials market.
Ampersand now makes a number of very unique fine art panels besides Claybord.
The black and white pieces seen on this web page were done using India Ink on the white porcelain clay surface of Claybord. I start drawing with a soft graphite easily erasing with fine steel wool as I change the composition. When satisfied with the composition I begin applying ink washes gradually going darker as the image progresses and at any time in the process scratching or abrading the ink off the white clay surface to expose it creating sharp or broad highlights.