We’ve been speaking to New York artist Charity Henderson about her unique, compelling, and instantly recognisable work and the ups and downs of her artistic journey!

 

What was your first impression of art? Do you remember your first encounter with it?

The first distinct encounter with art that I recall is an article on  Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, which I read when I was probably 10 or 11. Christina’s World is still one of my favorite paintings ( and Wyeth is still one of my all-time favorite artists). I remember a quotation in the article to the effect of “I added the first touch of pink to her dress, and it blew me across the room” This was the first time I can recall thinking of art as something that could have tremendous power, and I was also drawn to the idea that even a very experienced artist could create something that they themselves were stunned by- almost as if they had discovered something that hadn’t existed before. I still think the best art has something of this quality– after a great deal of skill-building and practice and repetition, you are able to tap into some sort of current that surprises even you, as the artist and creator.

 

What was the turning point, when you started to seriously pursue art? 

I studied art in both undergrad and grad school, but a year and a half out of grad school I was working more than 40 hours a week at my day job ( in an art studio, but I had little time for my own art and I was miserable). Then I  was abruptly laid off. As life challenges often do, this forced me to take a serious look at what I wanted out of life and whether I was actually moving any closer to those goals. From that point on, I worked jobs that allowed me to be 4 days a week (whether technically part-time or not) so I could always have at least one dedicated full studio day each week. I started setting goals for what I wanted–solo show, number of sales per year, etc. I also joined the Salmagundi Club, NYC’s oldest art club, where I have made some of my most crucial connections as an artist.

 

What’s your impression looking back on your earliest pieces? 

The one consistent thread is my work from my earliest work until now is a focus on the human face. Beyond that I’ve been all over the board- charcoal, acrylic, egg tempera, monochromatic, color, large work, small work, canvas, various paper surfaces.  Though some of my early work makes me cringe technically, it also reminds me that change and evolution are part of the artistic process, and that I should never be afraid to switch things up and try something new.

 

Was there a moment or specific painting when art started to click for you? 

There was a painting I made in undergrad after studying abroad where I first started to play with translucency and the contrast of detail and near-abstraction, both of which are parts of my current work. There were many iterations of technique and style between that painting and now, but the longer I paint the more I realize that I keep returning to ways of working over and over again, even without realizing it.

I have had a fairly specific style for about 7 years now. Though I anticipate that it will continue to evolve as one’s work always does, I think my current style pulls together a lot of different techniques I have used over the years.

 

What’s next for you?

This year I’ve started to experiment with colored backgrounds for my works- usually the backgrounds have simply been in a range of greys. I think the color makes for much more engaging works and I’m excited to continue experimenting with new colors.

There are always ways for my collectors to follow along on my creative journey!  My work ranges in size from 7″ x 5″ to 40″ x 30,” which makes my pieces accessible to a wide range of price points. I also offer prints on my website, which is always a great way to support an artist while you’re on a budget. I encourage anyone interested in my work to join my mailing list, which also means you’ll be included in regular free print raffles and be the first to know about studio sales:www.charityhenderson.com

 

It’s great for us at Cranfield to know that our oil paints are being used today in New York, New Dheli, New Mexico and New Malden!’