Thalo loves to promote artists and each month, we spotlight a member of our community!
This month we are pleased to have Charlie Pate as the thalo Spotlight Artist.
Thalo Team: Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?
Charlie Pate: My work is an attempt to let my paintbrush or pastel or sculpting tool say for me what words cannot. It is exclusively representational because our thoughts and even dreams are composed of real people and places and my art pays deference to reality. Honestly, it's a shame that representational art has been so neglected in recent years. Abstract art may evoke emotions and can certainly employ color and form. But it lacks a critical component... the ability to draw has distinguished artists from the beginning of time. And for good reason...because it captures something from life.
TT: What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?
CP: My goal is to stir something in the viewer. I want a piece to bring pleasure or longing or a sweet memory. Sometimes that is a landscape- a place with meaning. Sometimes a still life that just deserves to be studied for its inherent beauty. Sometimes a face- because every face tells a story.
TT: Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?
CP: I have a huge collection of art books. Some are more dog-eared than others... My favorites are Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, Kroyer, Degas. And for sculpture Bernini and Rodin…and Michaelangelo, of course. I am a humbled student of all the greats. So much to learn!
TT: Do you have a preferred method of presentation for your artwork and why? (Examples: workshops, gallery shows, Instagram, etc.)
CP: I am not opposed to techy ways of sharing...it just makes sense if you hope to get your work "out there". But my favorite way to display art is in a venue where people can get up close if they like, and where I can interact with the viewer. It's so interesting to hear what people see in a painting, what they take away. It's also a good opportunity to encourage others to give it a whirl if they feel inspired to create.
TT: Out of all of your creations (or bodies of work) which one did/do you find the most cathartic in creating?
CP: Hmmm. I guess that would be what I call "rainy day trips." Not commissioned pieces...just for my own pleasure. I had an extended stay with my friend and mentor, Renato Moncini, in his native Tuscany. All we did was paint plein air in fields and roadside markets. The light was amazing and the freedom- ahh! I would love to go back.
Looking Towards the Light
TT: When was your “Aha!” moment that led your work to where it is now?
CP: I honestly don't remember a time when I didn't love art. I am thankful for family, teachers, classmates and people who encouraged me all along the way. I had excellent professors at Ringling School of Art in Sarasota- one of whom taught me that sculpting is really "drawing in 3D". It was a whole series of moments.
TT: How has your work (or technique) changed over time?
CP: I go through phases. A year or two my style is looser, then a period that's tighter. I guess the biggest change has been in experimenting with color. Learning to see all the color, say, in a white dress. Or noticing that the sky actually has green tones sometimes. Switching back and forth from oil to pastel to charcoal to clay...it keeps things fresh.
TT: How do you promote yourself and your art?
CP: I should more, but I don't. For years it was entirely word of mouth. Or being featured in a magazine or the newspaper. But my kids are a great help. My daughter Catherine helps me by keeping my work visible on the internet. She and my daughter Grace have found juried shows to enter, artist-in-residence gigs, etc.
TT: Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?
CP: I would say just stay in it. I worked for an ad agency when I first got married (back when everything was hand-drawn). It wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, but it paid the bills. And I was exercising my talent and hanging out with creative people. But I would say never give up on what you think you were born to do. Always pursue that. And constantly work.
TT: What are you working on right now and why?
CP: My son, Charles, is renovating an old warehouse that will be a very cool studio space for himself (he is SO talented) and for me! We are each trying to have an important body of work for a grand opening. We work well together and I think we both will benefit from the new space.
TT: What would you consider to be your "biggest achievement" with your work thus far?
CP: The biggest is a 12' bronze done for Bon Secours Cancer Treatment Hospital in town. It's called "The Ascending Christ". Charles worked on it with me. It has earned me a lot of notoriety and the hospital had it recast for another campus. It required me to pull out every skill in my bag...drawing from a live model, sketching and designing, creating something that inspired hope for viewers who really need it. My wife calls it my "Pieta."
TT: What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?
CP: I did a pastel on cardboard for the county fair when I was 10 or 11 that won a blue ribbon..does that count? I lived in small towns growing up and had lots of opportunities to be a stand-out...mural on the gym wall and so forth. At Ringling my work was noticed and that was an ego-boost because there were so many talented art students there.
The Light in Firenze
TT: Do you take commissions? Why or why not?
CP: I do. In my experience, I can't imagine having made it without. And commissions aren't all bad. Some clients are very comfortable turning me loose to do what I do. It is probably prudent for an artist- especially a young one- to develop a following, or better still a patron. My best client, whom I consider to have been a patron, came to me first to commission a drawing which he had printed and gave to his clients. Smartest thing I ever did.
TT: What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)?
CP: I spend time with my family. My wife is my best friend (and my best art critic) and we love the same things...good books, movies, travel and our kids and grandkids- which all live in the same city!! We are extremely compatible and would rather hang out with the family than anything. By the way- all three of our kids are artists in their own right.
The Ascending Christ
TT: What is an area in your work that you feel weak in that you want to improve upon and how are you going to get there?
CP: My subject categories (landscape, portraiture, still life) will probably not change...but I would really like to push myself to find new striking landscapes, show more variety in the people I paint, look for the more unexpected still life, etc. That is if supply and demand will allow me the freedom. I would also like to experiment with different materials for sculpture.
TT: How do you overcome art blocks?
CP: Music! Music is the ultimate mood creator and I love it all. I can go deep bluesy jazz or hard rock or Handel's Messiah...and everything in between. If I am stuck, I just change the music, look at some art books, and kick it into gear. When it's bad- I pray. I don't think it helps to let the art block win.
TT: Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?
CP: I would like to make my mark again at the national level. Maybe take a workshop or go to Italy again. I would like to do more monument-sized sculpture...it's very physically taxing, so it's not an old man's genre. I would like to do things of lasting value that really touch people and give them joy.
Quenn Annes Lace
TT: Is there something that you would like to share with us that we have not covered, that pertains to you and your work?
CP: I just want to say, I know how fortunate I am. Being an artist is not the easiest way to make a living, but I love what I do, and I have the support of my family to pursue my passion. I am thankful for the gift I have been given and all the people along the way who have encouraged me and made it possible for me to be an artist. It's a privilege.
TT: More of Charlie Pate's work can be seen at:
Thalo Profile: http://www.thalo.com/profile/view/charliepate
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