I am excited to present this month’s interview with Charles Baughman, an exceptionally talented artist known for his breathtaking landscape paintings. I have been a fan of his work for many years and am thrilled to share his insights with you.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background in Art?  “I was born in Omaha Nebraska, but I’ve lived in Wichita Kansas for the last 30 years. I’ve been an art educator for 35 years. 19 years ago my wife and I started our own art school and enrichment campus for children called the Art Park Wichita. We Teach drawing and painting to people from ages 2 1/2 through 99 is my oldest current student. I am very fortunate that this allows me to paint and draw every day and practice my craft.

I am constantly inspired by the art I see from old masters to new students. I love sharing ideas and starting conversations. To me art is a form of communication, so I’m constantly responding to images and ideas trying to expand my thinking in other peoples as well. It is also what I love about teaching. It pushes me to explain things in a way that others will understand. It was one of my students asking questions about abstraction and composition that istarted me on my path of splatterscape paintings. She had a photo. It was such a great composition that I said it would work, even if it was paint poured out of a can, or splattered onto the canvas . And she didn’t believe me so we changed her lesson plan for the day to demonstrate the idea. I had so much fun that I realized this is what I needed to do with my own art. Let go a little, allow some of that chaos to come into it and so it was from one of my students, that interaction was the gift that pushed me toward what I’m doing today.

Nature is truly amazing. It simply blows my mind constantly, and presses upon me that life is a messy destruction and creates opportunity in new life which comes from chaos. This is part of why I think my spider paintings work. It is because I create with an element of chance and loss of total control. By not using brushes, I am creating with my fingers and sticks. Happy accidents are constantly happening. I just have to be open to them. But that doesn’t mean everything works the first time. I have to paint over things constantly. It is a continuous experiment of trial and error. Half of art is observation, and a lot of that time is spent watching one paint color it into another paint color trading back runs and fractals. It takes patience but it’s exactly this watching of the paint dry is like observing the sunset. A constant change in light and color. Patience and time is all part of the process. I love nature I have been camping and backpacking since I was nine years old. I enjoy being outside in all of the seasons. It is a process of constant change and a painting is trying to capture that energy in a single moment.”

What made you fall in love with painting? How long have you been a painter?  “I fell in love with painting in college. Before then I only worked in pencil. I was a control freak. I wanted almost photographic representation. I became technically proficient with pencil. Jack Carriker was my mentor and instructor at Kearney State College. He totally pushed me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to this happy accident, watercolor. Watercolor is all about happy. Accidents spill some salt on some wet water color and see what happens. My second semester of college I was in a drawing two class. I was working on a 20 hour drawing of me as a six year old boy, wearing my uncles helmet, army uniform, and holding a toy M-16 assault rifle. I was about 16 hours into the drawing using a black felt tip pen when I accidentally spilled my Pepsi on it. It immediately destroyed my perfect image. I tried drying it off with my underwear. It didn’t work. I was so upset. I crumpled up the drawing and started jumping up and down on it. At this moment my roommate came in, saw me and took me out for a walk and maybe a beverage. I came home and tried starting over and I realized it would be an insult to show this new drawing with not enough time invested. So I took my first drawing out of the trash, ironed it flat, put it in the mat, took it and hung it up on the critique wall . I then put my head down to sleep and wait for class to begin. I heard others come in for class but kept my head down in shame. Then Jack came in and started commenting. Oh this is nice. Wow this is great. Who’s this one? Somebody said it might be Chips and he said no, this can’t be Chips. It’s way too creative for Chip. This is when I looked up because I felt insulted. I thought Art was the ability to render something realistically. My picture still had parts of it perfect. But other parts were faded and wiped away the crumpled paper sucked up the Pepsi stains, making it look like old vellum. It was an amazingly better image than if I had not spilled the Pepsi. It was at that moment that I learned, art was about creativity, changing perceptions, making people see the world in a new way. So I jumped all in. Learning the art of experimentation, watercolor, and the way that I treat the paint today all goes back to that epiphany.

I think life is a creative act. Just walking my dog and observing nature is part of that creative process. I’m constantly looking and observing. But it’s when I’m in the studio that I really enjoy experimentation. It’s like constantly learning; it keeps my art making fresh.”

Do you have a favorite product you wouldn’t mind sharing with other artists?  “My favorite product is working on a wood cradle box. I love the hard surface and I don’t have to worry about canvas stretching and sagging. If I don’t like what’s happening, I can take a belt sander to it and mess it all up you know. I have to destroy to create. Another little secret is I’m now using a lot of recycled house paint. It works really well it’s free and it’s my own little way to save the environment.”

Where do you create?  “I’m really spoiled to have a detached four car garage. That is my studio. Part of the joy of living in Kansas is we have lots of space and it’s cheap. But I also love doing plein air painting. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to work out in nature where I simply act as a conduit transforming my surroundings into a moment of ecstasy that is my painting.

My advice for other artists is to never stop creating. Do it for yourself first and foremost. I have chosen to live in Wichita Kansas because it’s cheap. I can live a good life with a family, pets, a nice house, good food and nature close by. This allows me to enjoy life and live a creative life. It’s hard to make art when you’re struggling to survive. I couldn’t make this art in a big city because I would be exhausted. I told my kids they are already artists. They just have to figure out a way to earn a living that is acceptable to them while they continue to make their art.”

Where can someone purchase your beautiful paintings? Are you on Social Media? “My art is available on my website Charlesbaughmanart.com. I’m also on Facebook. Instagram I am Chipcharles and my email is CharlesBaughmanart@gmail.com.”