It is a long way from Glasgow to Toowoomba and when Charlie Boyle made the move, little did he think that 37 years later he would still be here, painting landscapes inspired by the Darling Downs.

Painter, sculptor, printmaker. Charlie is an artist, painting most of the day most of the week — as a professional artist there is no such thing as time off. Even walking the pet dogs can become the subject of one of his atmospheric paintings.

Throughout his 55-year career, Charlie has been awarded more than 43 prizes and accolades in the UK, Europe and Australia. Closer to home and adding to this impressive tally, Charlie is the feature artist of the 2017 Downlands Art Exhibition (September 1 to 3), and is exhibiting at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery from 30 September to 29 October. These local exhibitions feature large oil paintings of subjects as diverse as clouds, landscapes and abstracts, as well as smaller watercolours.

Which is more challenging to paint? “The abstracts, absolutely,” says Boyle, in his softly Scottish accent, “as they take much more time because of the preparatory drawings.

The landscapes and skyscapes are a meditative process and mainly improvisation as the image evolves as it is painted rather than being a literal copy of what I see or a photograph.”

Charlie’s painting is informed by Eastern, especially Japanese philosophies and practices. “By the time I paint a landscape, it becomes intuitive as I know the subject to a deep and detailed extent through observation, sketches and experience. The finished product is about, not of, the landscape.”

Charlie’s studio is crammed with notebooks filled with tonal pencil sketches of the Darling Downs region – the enormous skies, the vast cloud formations and the natural bush fringing ordered paddocks. “It took about seven years for me to build a visual vocabulary for this area. I had to think my way into the consciousness of the land after my familiarity with the Scottish and European landscape.”

Charlie still regards himself as a craftsman due to his early involvement in his family’s ecclesiastical decor business for Scotland’s Catholic churches. 

In fact, he is a life member elect of the Master Craftsmen’s Guild of the City of London. After studying drawing part time to help his role in the family business, then undertaking national service, by his early 20s Charlie knew he wanted to focus on art, choosing to study sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art. Not liking the predominant style of painting being taught at the time, he learnt the mechanics of sculpture mediums such as bronze, stone and wood while continuing to paint in his own style.

After graduating, Charlie taught at the Glasgow School of Art. When a colleague returned from Adelaide enthused about Australia, Charlie secured the role of senior lecturer in painting at USQ, moving with wife Lin in 1980. While lecturing, the university encouraged professional practice, providing time off and financial support. With more than 63 solo exhibitions throughout the UK, Republic of Ireland, USA, Europe and Australia, Charlie Boyle’s works are represented in private and public collections worldwide. He continues to teach a weekly class at the Toowoomba Art Society where he is also a director. “Teaching gives you clarity about thinking, and not only about art,” Charlie says.

Does he wish to return to his Scottish roots? “Not at all, Toowoomba is home.”

 

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