Paintings exploring the ways light inhabits our landscape.

Summer 2018

How does light change the landscape when it is absorbed by clouds, when it saturates water, when it lights up the forest?   “Expressing light is—for many painters—the crux of painting,” says Charles, “made doubly hard because of course there are no photons in paint. How does a painter express the experience of light then? One way is to shift the dark and mid values, or tones, down in the painting in order to make the lights read brighter in comparison. I also use gold and palladium leaf to incorporate actual reflective light.”

Since 1998 Charles spends summers painting outdoors and paints inside at her studio in Amesbury during the winter. She shows at Islesford Artists Gallery in Maine and at Powers Gallery and South Street Gallery  in Massachusetts. A graduate of BU’s College of Fine Arts, Charles learned the classic techniques of figure painting but was always interested in landscape. “The natural landscape is fascinating. In nature, everything fits together perfectly, like a puzzle. Sometimes when I am painting I will learn things by observation, like trees in a forest don’t grow randomly up and out, but will only grow into the available space, so their branches don’t touch neighboring trees. Or the way dunes are shaped by the wind that has been shaped by the waves. When you stare at something for 3 or 4 hours you are bound to learn something. At its best, landscape painting offers a tantalizing glimpse into this purposeful connection between all natural things.” A tactile surface quality is also evident in Charles’ work, who says “Each stroke is a decision about a very specific color and tone. I use a loaded brush with a sharp edge to make a clear mark which emphasizes the picture plane and lets the viewer in on the craft of how it’s done.”