Meet Redding artist Chuck Prudhomme. He was raised in the bush of Tanzania East Africa and Liberia West Africa, where his parents were missionaries. He returned to California to complete his last two years of High School and two years of college. In 1967, Chuck was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. Chuck served two tours in Vietnam, as a helicopter door gunner from 1968 to 1969, and as a helicopter pilot in 1971 to 1972. After Vietnam, Chuck transferred to the Coast Guard, where he flew search and rescue missions in northern California and Alaska.
Twenty-two years later, after retiring from the military, Chuck flew emergency medical helicopters for hospitals and fire suppression for the California Division of Forestry, as well as safety officer for Rocky Mountain Helicopters LLC. Chuck’s 35 year career as a helicopter pilot ended in 2002, when he suffered a cardiac arrest and open-heart surgery. It was then that Chuck decided to persue a life-long dream of being an artist. Self-taught, with exception of a figure drawing class at Shasta College, Chuck immersed himself in learning as much as he could, through plein air and figure painting workshops. Chuck prefers and enjoys plein air, (which means “open air” in French).
Chuck is represented by three major galleries in California, with his paintings among numerous private collections throughout the United States.
What do you remember about the earliest art you created?
My earliest piece of art was a pencil sketch of a giraffe while camping in the Serengeti in East Africa when I was 12 years old.
What an exciting opportunity and adventure as kid, to live in the wild! It’s interesting that your earliest art was created plein air, as is your preference as a professional artist.
Your style of painting has a feeling of freedom and fluidity that is captivating. When you make reference to “quick intuitive”, it’s apparent when getting to watch you paint in your Tuesday class at O Street Gallery. Seeing is believing, in how rapidly you can go from blank canvas, to remarkable painting.
Where do you gather most of the influences of your work?
My influence comes from my travels around the West. I have a particular emphasis in old forgotten houses and wilderness landscapes. I particularly enjoy plein air painting because it allows me to spend time in dramatic locations with stories to tell through painting. I am interested in capturing the feel of a place and the hidden story.
What a good fit, to combine your love of exploring the West, and plein air painting. I imagine that many of the old structures you paint today, aren’t long standing. Art as preserving history further enhances the beauty of your paintings.
Of all your artwork, is there a piece that holds more significance, or about which you are most proud?
In 2007, I had the honor to be selected to paint a large Christmas tree ornament for the White House Christmas tree. My wife and I were able to attend the official function at the White House, hosted by First Lady Laura Bush.
In 2012, I won Best of Show in a Plein Air Paint Out in Casa Grande, Arizona. I was surprised to win, since my painting was of a rather nondescript alley, to win the award and $1,000.
What a great honor, that painting on a Christmas ornament that brought you as a guest to the White House! Your winning the grand prize at the Paint Out in Arizona shows the caliber of your skill as a painter, especially since you chose a setting of an alley, as opposed to a sweeping view of the Arizona desert.
Can you please name a few of your favorite artists, past or present, and why?
I like Sergei Bogart for his loose colorful impressionistic style. Andrew Wyeth is a favorite for his melancholy renditions of life in New England. I like Edward Hopper for his renditions of people in and around old mournful surroundings. Len Chmiel is another favorite of mine, in his dramatic landscapes. A current artist, Craig Nelson, influenced me during painting workshops. Craig teaches to paint quickly, in allowing the painter to capture a feeling, rather than worrying about exact replication.
As a self-taught artist, it’s fascinating to see which artists helped shape who you as a painter. Of course, just as each of us has distinct handwriting, your personality comes through in each Prudhomme painting, that is entirely your own.
Is there a misconception, or something that you dislike being asked, as an artist?
I dislike being told how much my art has improved!
Oh, the well- meaning critiques!
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
My perfect day is painting Monument Valley at dawn, as the swallows sing the song of the ancients, followed by the same locale at sunset, as the towering fingers of red rock turn a brilliant purple.
Your perfect day sounds like a poetic painting adventure!
Thanks so much, Chuck, for sharing your story as a fine artist. Your devotion and commitment as a fine artist, gives inspiration to artists of all levels.
Chuck Prudhomme’s website.
Chuck Prudhomme’s Facebook page.
A note from Shelly Shively, curator, O Street Gallery: Welcome to this series, “O Artist”. As curator of O Street Gallery, I am proud and delighted to periodically feature an artist whose work is on exhibit at O Street Gallery. The current 13-artist exhibit runs from April 13 to July 13. The artists are Kathleen Lawrence-Davis, Chuck Prudhomme, Kathleen Evans, Susan Greaves, Louise Tuthill, Roberta A. Stone, Lynda Nolte, Connie Brown, Eve Berg-Pugh, Denise Granger Kerbs, Bev Corford, Neil Babcock and Connie Murray. The same questions will be presented to all the artists, to offer a glimpse of their passion that is creating art. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by these working artists, and be intrigued enough to experience their art in person at O Street Gallery.
O Street Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. O Street Gallery is located upstairs in the Oregon Street Antique Mall, 1261 Oregon St., Redding, Calif. 96001. For more information, contact Shelly Shively at email@example.com
Shelly Shively lives in Redding. She is Interior re-design network certified. Among her specialties are real estate staging, furnishing vacation and new homes, and the art of interior “re-design” – where she transforms and refreshes clients’ living spaces using their existing belongings. Shelly is also a freelance artist, illustrator, muralist and a Whiskeytown kayak volunteer. To inquire about a consultation, she may be reached at 530-276-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org