The Art of Charles McGavren

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I paint. This is an artist's statement.

April 25, 2023

I experience life through observation and study, capturing moments and presenting them as a narrative on canvas. So, I paint each person in a story where they form bonds with one another or to something that catches their attention. To observe people, capture their essence, and ask what guides them is central to how I treat figurative subjects in my practice.

My first artistic influence was my grandfather, an auctioneer who could read people. In my previous career, journalism drew me into observing people living their lives.

Now, subjects populate my paintings because they are curious, playful, pursuing good health, relating to each other, doing meaningful work with a passion, building a better world. In these pursuits I find the best opportunities to connect stories to people we can all look up to.

I ask myself, “What motivates people to do what they do?” “Where do they want to go in life?” A careful observer can detect these underlying motivations when they see what grabs a person’s attention, how that person touches things, or how their facial expression lights up when they see something that interests them. I prefer oil on canvas so I can concentrate on figural gestures and expressions without the paint drying too quickly. The almost caricature-like nature of these subjects is fantastic and idealized to emphasize the intensity of the moment and let viewers draw their own conclusions/deductions on the narrative.

Maxfield Parrish’s hyper-naturalistic fantastically idealized art inspires me with its colorful forests and supernatural figures interacting with their unnaturally beautiful environment. I am floored by D. J. Hall’s idealized sun-glass-wearing Southern Californians at poolside who are enthused by each other’s company. The caricatures of an Otto Dix subject supercharges the reality of their circumstances with social criticism bordering on the grotesque. The brushwork of these artists is other-worldly, but memorable. Likewise, I reveal the stories of people sharing space with their surroundings through selective editing and distortion in my work. Perhaps some of these people in my painting will stick in your memory.


Index Art Artist Statement Bio Contact