Monday, January 23, 2012

Artist Interview: Charlie Mcgloughlin.

I hold a special place in my heart for architecture.  An old farmhouse can make me swoon.  So, naturally I'm drawn to art that features architecture.  Here is one artist who does a grand job at capturing architecture in his landscapes.  He's let me interview him, so here are some questions and answers by the artist behind

1. Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?

I've been making art ever since I was a kid.  My dad was an architect and he set up a small drafting board next to his big one so I could draw while he worked.  I remember I designed houses, and airplanes, and other contraptions and showed him what I did.  He was very encouraging.  He even told me a few houses (that he designed) were actually from my drawings.  I was so proud.   And he gave me the greatest advice I ever got about drawing: "get a pen, and be bold."

Barn, 9:30 AM.

2. What style of art is your favorite and why?

I like all kinds, I dont have a particular style which is a favorite.  I tend to gravitate to any art that tries to convey a sense of the sublime or the uncanny.  Abstract Expressionist artists are always very exciting to me when they perform their work with precision.  See Rothko, Barnett Newman. My friend Douglas Witmer does work I like a lot in that genre.  I am not a land artist, but I think De Maria's "Lightning Field" is a major inspiration for me.  That work alone is a work of grand genius.   I love old prints.  Here in Philadelphia we have the Philadelphia Print Shop and they have a wonderful (and expensive) collection of great old prints.  I love the precision and faded colors, and the "imprint" nature of the process.  my own art has a bit of both genres -- the large fields of color with the architectural details and faded colors like sepia.  

3. What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?

Big skies are important.  I may make small scale paintings but the ideas -- and the space -- I am trying to convey is epic.    Abstract expressionism, with the large fields of vibrant color, are important inspirations to me.  I love the sense of human construction trying to reach up into the big, limitless sky.  It says something about human aspiration and perhaps hubris.  I see my landscapes as mainly abstract expressionist paintings in which details of human structures and details from nature strive to compete and be noticed.  The bird paintings are another thing altogether ... although i do try to convey the birds as small heroes, so I guess the epic is there too.  

4. Walk us through your creative process from idea to finished project.

I usually am struck by a landscape i see while travelling.  I dont like dwelling on a painting, so i work very quickly.  Watercolor forces you to make quick decisions and improvise -- I love that.  My main strength is my sketching ability  -- I could always just DRAW -- so I like the paintings to have a sketchy, immediate quality.  Watercolor, at least the way I have learned to use it, is perfect for this, as is oil pastel. Dry pastel is too messy. This is also a result of my life situation ... I work a full time job so all my painting has to be done right after dinner and before bed, which means I have to be able to get the materials and paints out, get the idea on paper, and put it away for safekeeping all within an hour or two.  If I take longer than 12 total hours on a painting I give up and paint the entire thing black and start over.  

I usually start off with two colors I want to work with as a base and create an abstract-impressionist-like painting with different horizontal blocks of color acting as an underpainting.  From there the details, ostensibly the "subject" of the painting, is laid over that in successive layers. 

House on the Hill.

5. What is a typical day in your life?
Work all day and play all night.  On the way to work, think about how I am going to play that night.

6. What do you think draws you to other people's work?

This is the great mystery of art and I have no idea.  I said I have favorite styles but that doesnt mean I dont love something in every style.  I think, above all, attention to detail, whether it be a conceptual detail or an actual detail of a painting.  It really depends. That -- as I said -- I am always drawn to the uncanny or sublime.  Thus, the work of Magritte, Agnes Martin, Guston, and Bacon are all equally inspiring to me.  

Lighthouse ala Little Red.

7. What are your interests/hobbies?

I joke that the money I make from painting funds my real hobby, which is model railroading. When I run out of money for painting and model railroading, my cheap hobby is writing music.  

8. Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?

I have a job. I am a registered architect, and I currently work for a major railroad in Construction Management.  

Western Tanager.

9. What is your favorite piece you've ever made and why?

The last one I did.  Right now, this painting called "Antenna Farm" on my website.  It gets to that "sublime" thing I was talking about.  Also, I really am happy with "Western Tanager", another one on my website.  I love that its so heroic looking.  Im thinking of having that picture blown up to 20x30 as a joke ... big bird!!!

The Fall Trees.

10. What advice would you give to an artist just starting out in the business world?

Art and business are only friends when they have the same goal, which is rare.  I dont really have any advice on this as my art is really not my business.  I find the phrase "art business" an oxymoron at best, and a sinister euphemism at worst.

11. Describe your work space.

I have this drawer which holds all my supplies.  When I am working, I annex the dining room table after dinner.  I put it all away in the drawer at bedtime. 

Drawers where he tucks his work away every night.

12. Did you face any setbacks on your path to being an artist?

I face the constant issue of there only being 24 hours in a day.  And of course I need to have a "real job" to make ends meet nowadays, so that leaves less time for creation.   But I get along ok.  So, no. 

Workspace and Drawers.  Very neat and tidy.

13. What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?

Do more birds.  I think they are fun to do. And I think that in my own way I imbue part of my personality into them.  

Thanks so much Charlie, for chatting with us so that we could get to know you a bit better.

You can also find his work on Facebook:  Here.

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