Charles Buckley traded in the Los Angeles sun for the hustle and bustle of New York City and picked up a paintbrush along the way, settling down with a family and a studio in the heart of Brooklyn.
But for this local artist, the canvas wasn’t an early calling.
“I’m not one of those people who always knew since they were little kids,” said Buckley. “But I started around 18 or 20 years old.”
He went on to attend California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA, where he majored in painting. Upon graduation, the artist packed up his roots and brought them to the Big Apple. He enjoyed a big city scene and a skyline backdrop as he attended Hunter College for graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts.
The jack-of-all-trades now resides in Clinton Hill with a studio in Park Slope where he shows off his paintings, drawings and unique text pieces.
The L.A. native is culturally influenced by his 70s childhood and like many artists, used artwork as a distraction at an early age.
“It was a way to escape and make space for myself,” said Buckley on his busy family life. The part-time artist is still a family man, now a full-time father to an 11-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.
Buckley balances being a father with being a reliable handyman and computer tech while still devoting time to his artwork, aiming for at least three days a week in his studio.
Working with everything from acrylics to gauche water-based paints, the artist says his tools depend on the medium.
“I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite thing or a style,” he said on his many techniques. “There’s just lots of different ways to think about things.”
The artist compared his wide-ranged style to the human mind, both so far from being one-tracked.
As for a favorite piece, Buckley mentions that one of his most recent works, “Adventure Painting,” hangs in his apartment. The 42 x 72 inch acrylic canvas contains six panels, three floral scenes among three scenes of people and places. He considers it “the first of a new process of works.”
As for the use of retro motifs in some of his pieces, Buckley said it is a “pretty complicated relationship” and “it’s not contemporary imagery,” he explained. “It’s always easier for me to make something more believable when it’s not tied to the here and now.”
He also pinpoints a unique “nostalgia and longing that is almost inherent in those images, which also speak to an optimism and hopefulness that existed at that time,” he said.
Buckley went on to explain his Progression Paintings, focusing more on the narratives and storytelling hidden within the frame.
He spoke of “Hula-man,” a “progression painting” finished this year on acrylic canvas in which he portrays the subject, the late 1950’s talk show host and television personality Art Linkletter, hula hooping. Ironically, Buckley later found that Linkletter had invested money in hula hoops, a feat the artist hadn’t known before bringing together the two seemingly opposite subjects.
He laughed at the prospect of himself hula hooping. “If anyone saw me hula…I wish I could do that.”
For Buckley, a piece can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, all dependent on the subject, medium and focus.
Being settled in Brooklyn for fifteen years this summer, Buckley is grateful to have made the move and hopes to spark something in the minds of those who get a chance to tour his studio.
Buckley’s best have been on display in shows at Susan Elev in Manhattan and Giacobetti Paul in DUMBO. The artist will also be showcased in September’s Go, a community-curated open studio project sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum. During GO Brooklyn, local artists like Buckley are invited to open their studios to eager art-lovers of the community the weekend of September 8 and 9.
Registered voters of GO Brooklyn then get the chance to nominate local artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to open at the Brooklyn Museum on December 1.
Buckley hopes the feedback from Brooklynites is positive, noting that past studio tours have always left him feeling good.
“I just want people to feel engaged, either with me or the artwork,” he said. “Something, somehow, gets them thinking about something they haven’t thought about before.”
More than anything, this local artist just wants to make a difference while doing what he loves. “I’d like to plant a seed in their minds.”