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At a very young age when I had only a vague idea of the meaning, it was predicted that I was an artist. This was from observations by my elementary school teachers and encouragement from my Mother, who not only appreciated art but was also a talented painter. The title of artist tended to give me a kind of identity…a suggestion that I was gifted in a certain way. With only that assumption as my guide, I pursued drawing and painting without academic training.  My earliest attempts were produced by my sense of awe when pouring through books and art magazines. The works of a famous surrealist caught my eye at age twelve.  From that time forward I would say that I was basically self-taught. That is not necessarily a compliment. There are areas I will never be proficient in yet the simple love of creating art drove me to figure things out along the way.  It wasn’t until I was 31 that I availed myself of some formal art training but by then I had already spent many years working in commercial graphics, technical illustration, animation, photography and film production. Those earliest accomplishments tutored my creativity but did little to satisfy my urge to paint large meaningful works. That would have to await a while. A very fortunate aspect of my career in the earlier years was the wide variety of artistic areas I managed to find work in. In each decade from the seventies, I augmented commercial art with a few fine art paintings. Results were slow at first, I was yet to emerge from all the strict confines of commercial work to the freedom of just painting for imaginations sake.
I partnered in a three man show in 1988 and hung a one man show in 1990. After a serious painters block in the mid nineties, I re-awoke determined to attend to a lifelong desire…that of large canvases with more serious intent. As the turn of the century approached, I couldn’t escape a distinct feeling that something big was going to happen. I began painting futuristic images inspired by the notion that entering the third millennium should be punctuated by some visionary artwork. Having already produced one painting in the late eighties, that turned out to be somewhat of a premonition, I was startled when a second one ‘appeared’. *Omen* painted in September of 2000, contained several key elements of the WTC attack that happened one year later. That image went viral online, was my first published painting and is still posted at To me, it was simultaneously an ugly painting yet strangely significant.

I’ve always remembered the words of my favorite art teacher; ‘produce a sense of light direction’. I have only reached that lofty goal on occasion. In some of my recent works I’ve attempted to capture beauty in the midst of calamity to produce a sense of wonderment and emotional response. And of course there’s often a curiosity about symbols present and their interpretation. So after a significant time spent in seclusion I offer a few pieces that came into being in the past 6-8 years.  These four canvases are connected;  A Surrealistic Quadriptic.  There’s a lot more from the past and hopefully from the future as well.  Enjoy.

This group of four canvases, when combined, form a 16′ panorama.  The sequence begins with 2012, an imaginary convergence of multiple calamities coming upon the earth. Fortunately, we were spared a global catastrophe.  Second, is Waves and Particles, a scene depicting the enigma of quantum mechanics, the warping of space/time and Plato’s allegory of the cave.  Third in the sequence is Clockwork, the mechanization of time measurement with sublime, human icons in flight.  The last scene is Spiritus Mundi, or ‘spirit of the world’…with obvious troubling events and situations existing on the human level and the arrival of divine intervention.

Charles Burwell
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