Charlton Bullock

For the Love of Tango

Charlton Bullock

I was born in England in 1945, I was a war baby. My father was from Winnipeg, the youngest graduate in civil engineering at that time from Imperial College, London. He took his young family first back to Canada and then out to Malaya where I first discovered the joys and perils of decorating flat surfaces, or scribbling on walls as my parents called it. I started my working life as an industrial apprentice in an aircraft factory, and then moved on to working as the studio assistant to Stefan Knapp, an artist who was investigating industrial processes to develop new art mediums. Stefan, a refugee of the Russian invasion of Poland, developed the use of jewelry enamel baked at high temperature on steel panels to make large outdoor murals. Stefan encouraged me to enroll at the Guilford College of Art where I did my foundation course in the year before the college was closed for revolutionary activities! I subsequently went on to Manchester College of Art and Design for my degree in Product Design. At that time we product designers despised the fine art department as airy fairies who couldn’t draw to save their lives, product design demanding the ability to draw an imaginary object accurately from any angle. This skill has been basic to my career, first in sailboat and other product design, and as an illustrator and as a cartoonist. I immigrated to Canada in the late seventies and started a business designing and building racing sailboats in Toronto, The sketching and drawing involved led to the creation of small pictures and the application of watercolour turned me into a painter. It’s a habit I have been unable to break, I was from then on an airy fairy.

As a painter I work mostly from sketches, I use photos to check detail and usually draw directly on paper or canvas with a carbon stick. For many years watercolour was my medium but now I find oil more suited to my interests as one can work large and recast the painting as it develops into more interesting directions.

My subjects follow my other passions, my original subjects were marine, sailboat racing etc. More recently they feature Argentine tango dance scenes or pander to my inclinations toward the surreal.

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