Art is as varied as the people who seek to create it-the people who each carry with them a creative mind and their own life experiences with which to influence it. For some, creating art is a beloved pastime. It’s a way to enrich and add to their life through self-expression. But for others, like artist Charles Williams, it’s a more holistic, full-time pursuit. Williams’s life embodies his creative process. The things he listens to, reads, observes, and writes all actively influence the kind of art he makes.
“It’s my calling,” says Williams, “my purpose for why I am here on earth.”
Following that calling has driven Williams deep into the study of art. This study started with the Grand Central Academy’s Hudson River Fellowship, which he was awarded in 2010. He then went on to get his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and his MFA from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He has also completed residencies in California, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as in Mexico.
Williams credits his inspiration to a variety of sources, including God, cultural values and uncharted places. As a child, Williams would spend hours trekking through South Carolina’s Lowcountry in Georgetown. The area’s unique biodiversity and waterways gave him plenty of opportunities to fall in love with the natural world. It comes as no surprise that many of his paintings feature realistic landscapes and small snapshots of nature. Often he pairs this with a bit of an abstract touch.
But his work also features people, and this is where the abstraction of his art truly shines. There’s movement in these pieces, a sort of fluidity that feels as if the people in these paintings are right in front of you—sometimes shining in the sunlight, other times running in the darkness.
Mettle and Merit of Charles Williams
To create this sort of art, Williams has had to challenge himself again and again.
“My patience and optimism are the most challenging things about life as an artist,” says Williams. “With the ideas I have from my visions, I continue to learn with each piece to be patient with myself. To allow the creative process to unfold organically and intuitively instead of forcing it to look exactly like what I have envisioned.”
By following his intuition, Williams has kept himself from leaning too heavily into one side of his art style over the other, instead allowing realism and abstraction to blend in whatever manner works best for the piece. And that, in turn, has allowed him to do what he does best—transport others into his world, even if only for a moment.
“That is the most beautiful, rewarding aspect,” says Williams. “…To create something out of nothing—a world for people to partake in. Art is needed, and the world needs it, and it embodies who I am.”