From a young age I always had a fascination with color. I amusingly like to think that destiny played a hand in this because the cross street by my childhood home was called Goethe. There it was, a beacon of light, color and darkness, teasing my biography even back then.
In elementary school a friend and I drew cartoons for the school newsletter. That led to our working collaboratively on comic book characters we made up - giving vent and vision to our imagination, figuring out the plot and the evil villain our hero would battle. I became the colorist for our shared comics and thus began my adventures into a systematic approach to working with color.
|Fantasy mural for private residence, Maryland|
Throughout high school I created many greeting cards for friends and family that kept my drawing skills alive, and again, color dutifully filled in the spaces. Its study was not an exploration into its own qualities and dynamics but was creatively and stylistically hemmed in by other design requirements.
|Underwater mural for private residence, Florida|
University study brought an explosion of creative possibility but not much in the way of color theory. The drawing classes were rigorous and demanding but my painting classes were "do what you want and it would be analyzed later." Technical skill played little part in developing the craft of my imagination. I eventually quit and studied life outside university. I set up an easel in my apartment and would devote serious evening hours to creating paintings that allowed all manner of imagery to pour forth.
Art reentered my biography in my study of Anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy created by the Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner. I learned a philosophy that gave me a reason to be creative. From a fuller more spiritual understanding of the place of art in human development, I was able to gain perspective on the importance creative activity had in developing my humanity.
The idea of creating art to be more human, not to be 'an artist,' appealed to me more and more. Further work with Anthroposophy led me to England to study art therapy from this unique perspective at the Tobias School of Arts & Therapy. It was there that I learned the color theory of Johann Wolfgang Goethe and my creative life would change forever. Picking up where Goethe's color theory left off, Rudolf Steiner asked artists to work with their medium to discover the creative possibilities inherent in this relationship. For painters this meant learning the dynamic qualities within each color and how these expansive and contractive forces work within the human soul as well.
|Aspen Grove, pastel painting|
The founder of the Tobias school told us that if we were to be art therapists, we should learn to create a therapeutic environment as well so we were taught the art of Lazure painting by a British master of this decorative wall finish. If I were to give a definition of Lazure, it would be, the atmospheric blushing of analogous colors across a white wall.
|Lazure for Mt. Phoenix Community School, Colorado|
Alongside my fine art and murals, Lazure painting became my life's work - traveling worldwide to "ensoul with color" the interiors of residences, commercial settings, medical facilities, places of worship and schools, as well as lecturing and teaching workshops in the Lazure technique.
|Mayan Ruins mural for child's room, Colorado|
In meditating on the qualities of different colors, I find that one better understands how to communicate and where and how it can be properly used within a compositional context. This process of working with dynamic color theory unleashes a creative relationship between the soul of the individual and the creative energies of nature.
For me, it has formed a healing and regenerative source of creativity where I never feel alone in these imaginative explorations but always have the inherent dynamic qualities of color as a companion to work with.
|Lazure at The Titerangi Steiner School, New Zealand|
This is Week 30 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Charles' story today! To connect with him and see more of his work, please click on the following links: