An Interview with Charles


Conducted by Tony Elam, Master of Ceremonies, at ConSortium, Houston TX, June 30, 2001

Part 3 - Advice & His Future Plans

Tony: What advice would you give young artists who want to be professionals?

Charles: The very first thing, learn to draw. It seems a simple statement, and it is a lifelong pursuit, but soooo many young artists are being hamstrung by teachers who convince them that it’s okay to use the projector and the photograph for all their realistic work. Everybody wants everything now. But if the young artist learns to lean on projectors and such, they will never develop the confidence through the doing - the striving - that eventually frees them to create what’s in their head, not what’s in a photograph.

If you are an art student and are considering buying one – don’t!   It’s the “…darkside, the quick and easy path…” that will lead to the death of your art spirit.

Looking at and studying all kinds of art will help the young artist know at least generally what appeals to them. Knowing what you don’t like is about as important as knowing what you do. So get out of the genre and look at other art.

If you decide to go to college, major in something other than art, that way you may get something out it, otherwise go to an art school where technique is taught. There is a danger of becoming enamored with technique for its own sake, but without it, satisfying images are hit and miss. Each new thing the artist learns is another arrow for your quiver.


Tony: What do you think distinguishes those that make it from those that don't?

Charles: In a nutshell, perseverance. The will to strive and do what it takes to learn your craft and make it art, not settling when told ”impossible”, or “lost technique”. The bull-headedness to never quit when the odds are completely against you, because they are. I’ve known talented young artists who had everything it took to do it but the ability to take a hit and then get up and do it again. Be able to take failure and learn from it, think it through and then attack again with better goods.


Tony: As artists "grow" they explore new styles, concepts, materials, genre – where do you see your future in art and what challenges are you looking to overcome?

Charles: The old saying,” Never put all your eggs in one basket” is true. As book publishers are gobbled up by large corporate entities and mid selling authors find themselves squeezed as fewer books are published, I’m always looking for new genres and markets to have options should the field experience an even greater compression.

I guess my biggest personal challenge in this field is to maintain a traditional approach to art in the face of computer created art. I have no real interest or desire to create art in a virtual world. I prefer being in real woods playing around, running, than doing it in a virtual world, but I suppose that makes me pretty old-fashioned. Which is true since more recent developments in my life lead me to pursue a direction far from the cutting edge of technology. My interests have led me to the study of the American frontier, the fight for a better life in the face of terrible danger.

I continue to explore a more painterly approach to my art and hope that as I gain greater control of the paint, I’ll be able to attract new friends to my art without losing those who like my work now. I hope to maintain an attitude of the student artist, continuing to learn and develop as a painter.


Tony: I think that’s about all the time we’ve got, but I want to thank you for an interesting chat, I think I understand a little better the artist’s perspective.

Charles: Thanks, it was fun.

Return to "About Charles Keegan"


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