I was super excited to have the opportunity to interview Chuck Black recently. I actually came across him on Youtube while researching fine art printers of all things, and was really taken with his generosity of knowledge and honesty in delivery. If you haven't checked him out, click on any of the links at the bottom of this page to do so. Your life will be richer for having done this :) In the meantime, sit down with a cuppa and learn a little more about Chuck!
I wouldn't say that it was difficult for me to put together, no. I think what was difficult for me was making the decision that I was going to put myself out there to the world and be as honest as I can. As artists, I think we all have the best intentions with our work, especially for those of us who do it for a living. However, when we get on camera and begin to talk about what comes to mind, what's important to us, and how we feel... It can easily get misinterpreted. I think that's where the fear came in for me. For someone who wants to make career out of painting, it's really scary to think that you'll be judged based on a video you make and that some will decide not to support you based on that. I just made up in my mind though, that being a good person and doing the right thing was more important to me than the opinions of others. So by the time I made the video, I was pretty comfortable with expressing myself like that. The feedback has been amazing though. I'm so appreciative of all the positive support that I get in return for what I do.
I wish that somebody had told me to take the internet much more seriously than I did. When it comes to my art, I always followed my heart, and so I don't think I have any regrets in that department. Although when it comes to the business of being a full-time artist, even though I've found success online, I think I could have had much more by this time if I had invested more into my presence online.
I've tried plein air on numerous occasions. I even spent 6 hours a day, for an entire month, painting in one location as it was part of my job when I worked in wildlife to be there. I'm sad to say though, that I'm not a fan. I love the idea behind it, I highly admire others who do it, but I've just been unable to find the love for it myself. I much more enjoy immersing myself into my surroundings when I'm out. Being out there and taking it all in is what I love the most, and I don't think that'll ever change. It's what makes me tick. Even having a camera along distracts me from what I love about it. So I would have to say that I prefer bringing the inspiration back and painting in my studio.
So I went through about a year where I felt like I was almost in a state of depression after leaving my career as a wildlife biologist. I had planned this so-called leap of faith for 5 years or so leading up to it. Although I never knew it would be so difficult to part ways with the outdoor lifestyle that I lived. I burned all my boats, so to speak, during that time however. I spent nearly all my money relocating to Montana and getting started. I didn't know a single person, didn't have enough money to move back or start over, and so I essentially forced myself to go through it. I knew in the back of my mind that it was what I wanted and so I did everything I could at all costs. After that initial year though, things started clicking in my business and all of that feeling of doubt left. I couldn't be happier with my decision now looking back.
I remember once telling a 4th grader that I thought their drawing was beautiful. And their reply was, "No, I suck. I just wanted to show you it, but thanks anyways" - I thought that was pretty cute!
The best thing that's happened to me by sharing my knowledge online, is the massive amounts of support that I've received in return. That support has come in the form of incredible comments and emails, folks purchasing my artwork and my prints, my work being shared with others... just an unimaginable amount of love sent my way in return and that's been the most impactful for me.
Exercise! I love to run and work out. I run anywhere from 20 to 40 miles a week depending on the time of year. I used to road bike a lot when I was younger as well. Sports was something I always enjoyed, and after high school it translated into these activities. I think I get my best ideas and thoughts about my art when I'm out running.
What I'm passionate about protecting, is habitat. Habitat loss is probably the biggest thing we face in our country and probably one of the biggest things we face as a human race throughout the world. Without habitat, we can't protect or save animals. I think what I'm probably most passionate about within that realm is protecting and conserving our wetlands. We've lost around 50% of our world's wetlands. In North Dakota alone, which is where I've spent much of my time, there's been over 2 million acres lost in only the last hundred years or so. So that's really important to me. However, if there's one species that I'm more passionate about protecting than others, it probably be the Greater Sage-Grouse as I spent some of my time as a biologist studying them.
A typical workday can vary, depending on what I'm up to. For the most part, I'd say the first couple hours of my day are spent either around creating content for online, or answering emails/engaging with my community. After that I'll usually paint for a while. At some point during the day I need to get out for my run or hike. And then later in the evening I'll either continue to paint, or get started on some video editing or other administrative tasks. The way I'm wired, I really struggle with a schedule - so I usually just kind of go with the flow, and that can change based on my mood. I work long days though, 14 to 18 hours is not uncommon for me.
Well one thing I haven't really shared publicly yet is why I share everything I do online, and free of charge.
When I was younger and starting out as an artist, I reached out to every single artist that I admired growing up, and everyone that I admired at the time. I wasn't looking for a lot of help, but there were a few things that I was unsure of, like I'm sure many artists starting out can relate to. Really I just wanted a quick answer here and there on a few things. However, not a single one of those artists got back to me with any answers. The few of them that did reply, were very short with me and even rude. That was so disheartening for me as a young artist. All these artists that I looked up to for so long, weren't willing to share even the most basic of information with me, let alone spare a minute of their day for the sake of one of their fans. It affected me a lot, and through that I realized that I never wanted to come off to another young artist the same way. I lost a lot of respect for some of those artists and it's why I work so hard to share my knowledge and engage with anyone who reaches out to me. I want to show the next generation of artists after me that you don't have to be greedy to make it as a full time artist. You can share every secret you have, help others, and still have enough room for your own success. Nobody can take away from what you're trying to achieve, and that's a statement that I live by everyday.
Hear! hear! Chuck, we feel exactly the same way :) Thanks so much for a brilliant insight into your life as an artist and a very good human.