The Artist
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Highly respected by other artists and revered by thousands of collectors, Charles Vickery awed us with his dramatic paintings and charmed us with his humble demeanor. Although he died in September of 1998 at the age of 85, we can look back with pride at the extraordinary career of an extraordinary man.

What Vickery is best known for and will be most remembered for is his ability to paint the infinite moods of water—to make it come to life. But what initially stumps everyone is how this talent and passion for the sea could come from a man who lived so far from it.

It turns out that he actually explored many different types of subjects early on. Born in Hinsdale, Illinois in 1913, his talent was obvious at an early age, and he worked hard at developing it.

But things took a decidedly different path when, just after high school, he discovered the work of some artists he would later refer to as “the old pros”—accomplished masters such as Winslow Homer, Montague Dawson, and Frederick Waugh.

According to Vickery, they were some of the first artists to break through the tyranny of the “brown gravy school” of marine art. He became captivated with their work, and he was determined to learn their techniques and study their use of color.

He later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Fine Art, but he often credited Lake Michigan as being his greatest instructor. The inspiration it provided and the lessons it taught him were far more meaningful to him than the study of tiresome fundamentals.

Vickery loved sketching at the Chicago Lakefront, the Indiana Dunes, and at a number of favorite haunts along the Eastern Seaboard. He believed constant observation of the subject is as essential for the experienced artist as it is for the beginner. “Going to the source” was absolutely critical. Capturing the elusive essence of the sea is not something you can do by looking at photographs.

Vickery Photo
Charles Vickery
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