Tucked away in a tidy corner of a bespoke furniture workroom, Mudgee based painter Charles Smith creates his beautiful vibrant bird portraits and landscapes. I took a day trip to the lovely country town to meet Charles and find out more about him before his up-coming solo exhibition Westward Flight.
Tell us about your background. When did you start painting and why?
My Background is in antique restoration and furniture making. I completed an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking and for several years ran a small furniture making business in Sydney having clients all over Australia and overseas. During this time I always had an interest in art and a desire to paint. I constantly sketched and dabbled in painting since high school, but it wasn’t until I moved away from Sydney that I have had the time to really concentrate on making art.
Your bird portraits are quite formal. Why do you choose to paint the birds in this formal portrait style?
I have always liked portrait paintings. Our house is full of portrait style paintings. My wife and I attend the Archibald prize each year and one day I hope to enter a portrait myself. The bird portraits that I paint are intended to capture the unique personality of the individual birds, mainly through their eyes and general expression.
Describe your creative process to us.
I search through hundreds of photos looking for birds that fit the criteria that I desire, that is, that they display some type of unique personality through their eyes and face, some are funny, some are cheeky, some serious. I then draw the bird on a canvas, put some music on and attempt to paint...
You moved to Mudgee 5 years ago from Sydney. How has the regional environment affected your practice?
Being in the country has really allowed me to step away from the rat race and breathe. The landscape around the Western plains area is vast and beautiful, inspiring a creativity that is difficult to muster in the bustle and stress of the city.
Describe your studio space to our readers.
My "Studio” is really a dedicated corner of my Cabinetmaking workshop. I still need to make furniture in order to pay the bills but I try to keep it clear of the distractions of current furniture projects so that i can concentrate on the paintings, however sharing the two spaces is difficult. I hope to one day have a dedicated space for painting…