Listening to Color: Meet Artist & Muralist Charles Andrade

Written by Artie The Panda

Charles Andrade (pronounced ahn-drah-day) is equal parts artist and thinker. From his early endeavors as an art therapist to his more current passion for chalk pastels and custom wall designs, Charles gives rich, meditative thought to his work. Especially to color.

The Theory that Changed Everything

Although Charles studied painting and art therapy in England, his fascination with color began when he was introduced to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The 19th-century German writer’s ideas inspired the young artist to study the interplay among light, darkness, humanity and spirituality. These principles have impacted his entire art career, including teaching positions from Aspen to Auckland.

Fine Art, Murals and Workshops

Charles currently lives in Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado, where he creates fine art on canvas using pastels, watermedia and digital mixed media. For the chalk pastels piece shown here, titled “Mother Worries,” Charles used Frame Destination Wood Frame Profile 502A in Graphite, along with Papermat-WC 4-Ply mats. “Frame Destination was very helpful, offering a wide selection of different sizes and colors for mats and frames to complement my artwork — as well as excellent customer service,” Charles says.

In addition to his fine art, Charles owns and operates Lazure Custom Wall Designs, a mural and decorative painting business specializing in a European glazing finish called Lazure. He also teaches, lectures and offers workshops around the world.

See More of Charles’s Work

Much of Charles’s work is featured on his Lazure website. He posts current projects (and even some guitar strumming) on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. As a black-and-white furry mammal, I thoroughly enjoyed being schooled on color by Charles during our Q&A. Check out his responses below for an inside peek into a new passion project and his favorite paint color name (hint: his wife made it up).

Now for Artie’s Eight Q&A with Charles Andrade …

1. What is your background; how did you get started?
Artistic activity was always in my childhood growing up. I did cartoons for our middle school along with another student. In university I majored in art (watercolor painting) but found it lacking in proper classic instruction of the basics of color, value and form. (It was the ’70s, what can I say?) During post-grad work in art therapy in England, I discovered Goethe's color theory and everything changed. His concept of color mediating between light and darkness opened up a world of new and more objective understanding of light, color and darkness related to human thinking, feeling and will. It set me on a new path to discerning my role as an artist and the creative process. It is a richly rewarding and still evolving relationship as I learn to listen to what color has to say to me. I am definitely a better person and artist for following this new approach to the world of color as it breathes between the polarities of light and darkness.

2. What role do you think the artist plays in society?
I believe that Western culture has pretty much exhausted the psychological underpinning of what is needed to create art. What I see too often now in galleries and museums is the same as what I saw 30 years ago working in mental hospitals in America and England, only now it has the stamp of financial approval. Historically, art has been a mediator between the spiritual and the corporeal in guiding humans to a more balanced and informed approach to life and what it means to be human. In our current cultural milieu, that has pretty much been lost as we continue to troll through the detritus of our narcissistic self-image for inspiration. The arts need a renewal: we need to become more objective and compassionate toward the elements we work with. For me as a painter, color is my medium, so the nature of color — the expansive quality of yellow, the dynamic power of red and the distant healing nature of blue — are the moral qualities (as they relate to human psychology) that I need to listen to in order to gain new inspiration to paint. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe understood this as he studied the phenomenal nature of color and its intrinsic relationship to human psychology. Only by listening to the spiritual foundations of nature can humanity arrive at a more objective and morally compassionate orientation toward what is needed to be created for the self and for society. We have detached ourselves from nature for too long; this damaged relationship has harmed us both, and now we need to mend the break before it is too late for healing.

3. What has been a formative experience or the best advice you’ve received within your career?
My entire artistic career pivoted on my learning Goethe's color theory and the wealth of knowledge his approach held to bridging the increasing gap between man and nature. Further investigation into the work of his most prominent student, Rudolf Steiner, solidified my philosophical orientation as a human being AND an artist.

4. What ways does your work reflect your personality?
I hope my work expresses the continued striving into nuanced color relationships that are based on an informed and more objective understanding of light, color and darkness.

5. Creative blocks, do you get them? If so, how do you overcome them?
I've discovered that time and distance (physical and soulful) are great remedies to creative blocks.

6. What is your most indispensable tool? (Not counting the obvious, like paints, brushes, canvas, camera, etc.)
While new mediums offer delightful distractions and sometimes clever insights to my work, it is more important to simply be observant and to listen to what the colors ask of me. This approach rarely disappoints.

7. Do you have a new project you are working on, or a new passionate idea?
I recently taught a painting course on “Imaging the Feminine,” and the research I did for it offered a wealth of material for me to create from. Currently I'm working on a series of interpretations of the iconic Lady of Guadalupe and her mystery. Very eye-opening material as I wrestle with the spiritual force behind this inspiring spiritual figure.

8. What is your favorite paint color name?
“Vermillion Velvet.” This is a custom color we had made for our DIY Lazure painting kit. My wife came up with the name!

Charles Andrade

All artwork and/or photographs used in this post are subject to copyright held by the featured artist.

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