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Editorial blog

“I’m the luckiest man in the world!”  An interview with Charles Evans

08 Nov 2021

You’ve been on an interesting journey to becoming a well-known artist – tell us more about it…

I always wanted to be an artist, really, but unfortunately, like most people having to make a living, life got in the way. After starting out in catering as a young lad straight from school, I then decided to go to art college. I attended Lincoln College of Art where I had a lovely time before going back to catering. After a couple more years, it was time to join the RAF, which was great despite some hairy moments. Amongst all of this I did quite a bit of three-day eventing, motorbike racing and various other pursuits all designed to kill me! And yet here I am today, at 68, wondering how on earth I got here.

What have been the highlights of your creative career?

It’s been well over 30 years now so there have been far too many to mention. But the first one was when I decided to take the plunge and paint full-time. At my first solo exhibition I exhibited 69 paintings for two weeks at the Headrow Gallery in Leeds. All 69 paintings sold on the preview night! What a start.

Another one was something that happened very recently when the RNLI asked me for permission to use all the lifeboats paintings that I had done in the past to use for their fundraising.

How and why did you get involved in TV work?

It was a case of right place, right time. I hadn’t been living in Northumberland long when I was asked by the local Tyne Tees news programme to appear in a feature about local artists. I decided to go on the moors and paint a quick moorland scene, in watercolours of course. The filming was taking place in July, and it just happened to be blowing a gale with torrential rainfall. I had to strap an umbrella to the top of my easel and did a very loose watercolour. Me and the crew looked like a bunch of drowned rats as we came down from the moor. To my surprise, a couple of weeks later the TV channel rang me up and proposed making half a dozen six-minute items. We ended up making 200 of these!

In this time, they had me dangling out of a helicopter above the sea doing a sketch of the headland, filming a programme on horseback, and even riding about the Lakes on a motorbike with the TV crew in tow. This all led on to making half-hour programmes, again for Tyne Tees TV which featured on Yorkshire TV and Border TV. A half-hour programme normally takes three days to make and so I had to wear the same clothes for three days. I was then approached by another production company, Orion TV, who made quite a few daytime programmes and so then we started making them for Discovery TV.

Which mediums and supports do you enjoy working with most?

Watercolours was always my first love, and I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to watercolours. I need good quality watercolours, in my case Daler-Rowney, with a good quality paper which must be sturdy and won’t mess you about. For this I use 140lb rough The Langton paper. After many years of just watercolour painting, along came acrylics into my life, namely System3, again by Daler-Rowney. I find these just such a wonderful forgiving medium and I paint these on the same paper as I use for watercolours, also on canvas, boards, planks of wood. You name it really; I’ve even painted landscapes on plaster of Paris sheep and fish for various charitable fundraising events.

What is System3 and why has it proved so popular with the nation’s artists?

System3 are Daler-Rowney’s entry level acrylics. There’s something to suit everyone, from normal bodied to heavy bodied, fluid and inks. System3 paints are just so easy to use, they flow beautifully and have a lovely creamy texture. You can use the paints like oils on a canvas or watered down, like watercolours.

Tell us about your latest book, Painting with System3. Who is it aimed at?

The latest book Painting with System3, is aimed at anyone and everyone that wants to paint. It can take you from the very beginning and getting to know the paint, with easy step-by-step projects, through to more complex paintings. If you already paint with acrylics, it will give you some new ideas that you haven’t thought about before.

How will the book help artists build their skills?

Above anything else, I hope it will give the reader the confidence to make a mark on a surface and help them to develop through the variety of projects and mediums. I am passionate about painting and firmly believe that everyone should have a go. If this book inspires someone to pick up a paintbrush and slap some paint on a surface, then my job is done. Because, at the end of the day, there is no right way or wrong way, only the enjoyment of the process.

What is the USP of Painting with System3? How can retailers convey this to customers?

Painting with System 3 will show readers all the unique benefits and possibilities of System3 inks and acrylics. System3 paints are very forgiving, meaning you can paint light over dark, on almost any surface and cover over your mistakes. Even outdoors on location, you can use acrylics like an oil painting on canvas. But unlike oils, acrylics are water soluble and by the time you pack away your kit, it’s already dried.

Why, do you think, it is important to have an experimental approach to painting?

I just think it’s important to open your mind to any possibility in the process of painting and remember that there is no right way or wrong way. Enjoy painting in a style which suits you best. This is what helps us develop our own style which marks us out from everyone else.

What exciting plans do you have for 2022?

I’ve been around the art circuit for what seems like a long time now, and I still can’t stop being excited about it all. There are already lots of art society workshops and demos booked for 2022 and quite a few painting holidays booked for next year (we only have one vacancy left for the whole year). I am also halfway through the next book with Search Press which is due out in 2022. It is entitled, Charles Evans’ Watercolour Rescue, and focusses on how to rectify your mistakes in watercolour. Friends keep saying to me “When are you going to retire or at least slow down?”. What am I going to retire from? Painting pictures? I do for a living what most people do for a hobby, which just makes me the luckiest man in the world!

For more information, visit Charles website:

Painting with System3: Painting with System3 by Charles Evans is available from Search Press, RRP £12.99.

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