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As well as being one of the UK’s leading painters, Charles Evans is the main demonstrator for Daler-Rowney and teaches art classes all over the UK. Charles’ passion for painting is self-evident, and his enthusiasm has fuelled his long-running TV series and success as a best-selling author. 

In his new book, Painting with System3, Charles explores Daler-Rowney's range of System3 inks and acrylics, showcasing the versatility of this accessible medium. Fresh from his recent painting trip to Picardy, France, we caught up with Charles to hear about the inspiration behind the book.


How are you, Charles? For those that don’t already know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am in a very good place because finally I can get back out on the road after all the uncertainties of the past few months. That doesn’t mean to say that I haven’t been busy because, since the lockdowns began, my e-shop has been going ballistic and has really only slowed down slightly since people started going back to work. This, coupled with producing Painting with System3 and another book in watercolours which comes out next year, both with Search Press, has meant it’s been a busy old time.  

I’ve been an artist all my life, in spite of doing other things along the way, but I decided to become a full-time professional artist about 30 years ago, shortly after I moved to Northumberland, England. This is a place which I love dearly, and which has been so good to me in my career because it was also the start of my TV career on Tyne Tees Television. I then went on to Discovery TV. These days as well as writing books, magazine articles, carrying out painting holidays, workshops and demonstrations I am also the main UK demonstrator for Daler-Rowney. This is something of which I am very proud. I use all their materials in everything that I do.


We’re all looking forward to the release of your new book, Painting with System3, what was the inspiration behind the book?

I’ve always loved to paint outdoors on location. Some would say en plein air but I’m not posh and I’m not French so I’m afraid it’s just plain outdoors for me. 

I’ve always found acrylics the most versatile and forgiving of mediums and easier to use to paint outdoors on canvas than oil paint because I am a very messy painter as you can tell by the appearance of one of my smocks. I have Daler-Rowney embroidered on all my smocks, but you can’t really tell because of all the paint I’ve splodged around. When you are out on location, acrylics dry a lot quicker than oils, even if you’ve painted it very thickly on the canvas. This saves a lot of paint being daubed on the inside of the car.


Can you tell us a bit about the System3 range and why you enjoy painting with the inks and acrylics?

The System3 paints are such a diverse range. You have the normal System3 acrylic paints, then you have heavy-bodied System3 and then the System3 fluid which is a lot runnier. But they all have a lovely creamy consistency and vibrant colours which is just a joy to put on canvas or paper. The System3 inks have such strong pigmented colours which are so finely milled that you can use them with an air brush if you are so inclined. To me, this means they flow perfectly in water and on the paper. But all this stuff you can find out about in the book.

Do you have a favourite section of the book?

To be honest the whole of the book was my favourite and Search Press use some amazing photographers during the production of books. In this book we have got some fabulous whacky shots with ink suspended in air flying towards the paper as it flies off the end of the pipette. There are some messy hand shots which people will just think is a set up but that’s what I actually look like when I’m painting. But my favourite of all favourites is when it comes to stage-by-stage projects. I always love doing these because, as well as enjoying the actual process of painting, you just know that someone out there is learning something and that you have made a difference to their painting journey. Because at the end of the day that’s what I’m all about. I like to think that I have enthused or inspired someone to paint. Really, I’m just a gobby Yorkshireman.

What is your starting point when choosing a new subject or scene to paint?

I have to love the subject or scene. Sometimes the scene may not look particularly inspiring to someone else, but I know the lighting and shading that I am going to put into it will bring the subject to life. More often than not, when I am looking at a scene, I don’t see the scene, I see the finished painting. This is a bit of an odd statement because I go on a walk seeing finished paintings rather than the scene in front of me. Don’t forget you don’t have to always paint what you see. Quite often you paint what you feel. And even after all these years, I still find it amazing that when I’ve painted a picture of some little lane in Northumberland, or my nearest beach (all of which most people have never heard of), thanks to the power of Search Press, people in far-flung places around the world suddenly know my little piece of this wonderful planet.


You are known for your “no nonsense” approach to painting. What tips do you have for those who are picking up a paint brush for the first time?

Don’t be afraid. Remember you are not doing this for anyone else but yourself. So, you have no one else to impress and, the most important thing about it is, it’s for your own enjoyment. I’ve always thought that painting is the biggest cure-all because you don’t think about your troubles when you are painting. So pick up a brush, splash some paint around and hopefully the enjoyment of making a mark will progress into something you never knew you were capable of.

What are you working on at the moment?

As I’m writing this, I’ve just got back from conducting a painting holiday in Picardy in France. Once I have got myself reorganised, I’m starting on a load more painting project articles for Leisure Painter magazine.

Buildings in Pierrefonds, France         

Buildings in Pierrefonds, France The finished painting

Do you have any plans for the rest of the year?

Many, many plans for the rest of the year. I have demonstrations and workshops that I are booked for the rest of the year up and down the country. There is a big show at the National Exhibition Centre in November over four days. I also try to make as many YouTube videos as I have the time to do. I enjoy doing these because people get so much out of them. I am not a believer in all this speeded-up camera work. I like people to see every pencil mark and every brush stroke. My friends say to me “Do you ever think you will retire?”. It’s always the same answer “What a stupid question. What would I be retiring from? I paint pictures for a living, what else would I do?”.


Discover more from Charles on his webite and social media pages:

Twitter: @CharlesEvansArt

Youtube: Charles Evans

Painting with System3 is available from Search Press, RRP £12.99

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