Charles Vincent answers questions asked by Andrea:


Q : When did you start painting, and how did you learn to paint? 

CV: I started painting very young because my parents were artistic and encouraged it. But I have been at times very ambivalent toward art in general. I tried to do some serious art in my teens and later, but have drifted in and out of it for several years since then. I became an electronic musician. I was eventually hired to make a couple of recordings by Carl Craig, the techno legend from Detroit. It was important to me to succeed in something that was outside of my parents' world. But I think I am better at painting and drawing, and I have finally given in. Now I am using the education I have had in art fully.

Q : What is your educational background?

CV: I learned art mainly through my years at the Bealart course at H.B. Beal Technical School in London, Canada. Just before that, I had also taken a life-drawing course from the artist Herb Ariss. He was very instrumental in me understanding the idea of the human form as a basis for art. I honed my skill further under my teacher Bert Kloezeman, although I think I drove him very crazy. He would say "You make a good line. This line is so beautiful; it makes one want to salivate. But look over here: lazy, lazy, lazy!" Looking back, he was right. I needed to stand back a bit and tighten up. There is nothing lazy about my work these days. I also studied film under Mark Haney there for a year. I learned a lot about motif and theme from him. More than I had absorbed in any English classes or anything. I think that explains some of the cinematic aspects of my work. Joseph Hubbard was my art history teacher.

Q : How long does it take you to do a painting?

CV: The acrylic paintings take a while, sometimes a couple of months. I make them as small as the amount of detail that I want to put into them will allow. That is how I decide the size. I use a combination of techniques, from opaque blends to layered glazes according to the intention for that part of the painting, and then I consolidate the image with an archival varnish. I usually work on one at a time in a kind of monomaniacal way. I don't think the pace should ever be moderate in art. Who turns to art for moderation? It should either be explosive or meticulous. I have chosen meticulous.

Q : What artists do you admire?

CV: Rather than being inspired by artists, I want to learn their language of art, to translate my own inspirations, like knowing "how does this method or language work?" My big two would be Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Robert Smithson. That is a good example of the kinds of ideas I try to confront and interpose against each other in my work. I really like Robert Smithson, his relationship to functional architecture, and to language and geology, although I am exploring some of the same themes in a very different way. My work is very anthropomorphic, his eschewing of that is a very freeing starting point for me to work back to myself as a figurative artist working in a studio.

Q : Where do you get your inspiration?

CV: It comes mostly from spaces that have a little question. Like a piece of disconnected industrial fence alone in a meadow. What is the story there? Or a house with a string of faded Christmas lights, and one of them blinks but not the rest. Or a broken sign on an empty building. What is the day when a piece of trash stops being litter and becomes archaeology? These things seem curious, and that strangeness seems almost crushingly beautiful to me sometimes. Although these things and places make me feel very much myself, they also provide for me a context for myself that makes me question my methods of perception. I believe art is the best forum for exploring these questions.

Q : Do you believe in fairies and supernatural beings?

CV: I aminterested in the way the mythic is carried over into the contemporary. Certainly my work always seems to be a failure for people who are looking for something escapist! I like things that have a charged quality. But I do like to add these elements that invoke the mythic. It says to me that all these things we are grappling with in the contemporary world have always been there, and we just keep working closer toward them, maybe in spite of ourselves. 

Q : Do you paint anything besides fairies?

CV: I tried doing some other things like portraiture or straight landscape but it is not for me.  This seems to be the best vehicle for me, and the things that I am dealing with.

Q : Where do the fairies buy their clothes?

CV: I don't know if they buy them, I guess that would mean that they use money? I suppose they make them or find them or something. Maybe for some they shop in the malls that are always shown from the back in the art? They are anachronistic. Sometimes there is something that seems mythic, and sometimes there is something contemporary. But they all look a little conservative to me, in a way. They are not goths or whatever. If one of them looks contemporary, she might be wearing a suit with pants with high heels, for example. That is fairly typical attire today, but it strikes me as a very complicated message to send out.  It is loaded with signals about power, propriety, and sex appeal, all at once. Maybe it suggests being in control of some kind of information. So I add wings and make the figure the goddess of all of these qualities.

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