Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure. -Alfred North Whitehead
Based on this quote, Guemes Island artist, Arden Charles, was destined to create art. Raised by an artistic mother who was the first woman to solo the newly dedicated Boeing Field, it seems that adventure would have been routine in her home. With her mother’s influence, and that of an artistic brother, she was surrounded by art while growing up. Arden’s panache for creativity led her to a Commercial Art degree from the University of Washington.
After graduation, Arden found a job with the Fred Milkie Commercial Photography Studio, the only one in Seattle at that time. According to Arden, “This job changed my life.” She worked directly with the photographer and helped arrange the set of whatever they were shooting. Often, this required accessorizing props and she was soon renting furniture from a local upscale furniture store, antique shops, and she managed to have access to the Seattle Design Center. The Studio would actually build rooms that she would decorate and for which she would hire models. One of Arden’s techniques is assemblage pieces where found objects come together to tell a story. Many of the collectibles used in her “Art Boxes” and cigar box installations came from her commercial work.
Arden is an incredibly gifted painter as well. Her purpose with all her work is to bring out the viewer’s curiosity to engage with the piece. She is inspired by anything of beauty, or things that are different and make her curious…other artists and their work, art history, and Mother Nature. In reference to a mixed media piece, Arden shared that she enjoys “the pentimento effect of translucent images on a watercolor background. Just as it is interesting to sort out what is real from what is imagined, it engages me to work with the various layers of media to create a finished painting.”
Arden married a man named Stuart and they settled on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. In the 1920’s and early 30’s, three of Stuart’s ancestors, who were sisters, each bought property next to each other on Guemes Island. Before Arden married Stuart, he and his grandparents brought her to the island for weekends. It was here that she had her first raw oyster right from the beach and also where she introduced to agates.
After she retired from the Commercial Art Studio, she joined groups of artists in private homes; guest professionals hired to teach portraiture, in various mediums, or Still Life’s. Retirement also gave her the time to enjoy gardening and make large floral container arrangements on her deck. She can also be found walking and listening to Audiobooks or connecting with friends and family.
Nowadays, much of her work is on commission. She is a member of Women Painters of Washington, where some of her work is displayed in the biographies section of the website. You can also see her work on the guemesislandart.org website or in her studio. She has collections in Swedish Orthopedic Hospital and Swedish Hospital in Seattle.
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