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Warner’s work is inspired by the world around him

Charlie Warner has been creating art locally for decades now, but many Troup County natives may remember first meeting him in the classroom instead of an art gallery.

Warner currently works as a substitute teacher with the Troup County School System where he taught art for years. During his time as a full-time teacher, he taught at Troup High School, Lee’s Crossing Middle School, Long Cane Middle School, Ethel Kight Elementary School, Hogansville Elementary School, Gardner Newman Middle School and Hillcrest Elementary School, as well as Auburn Junior High School. Despite being an art teacher, he said that he learned just as much from his students as they do from him.

“I learn from them probably as much as, if not more than they learn from me,” Warner said. “… Even subbing, I’ve done a couple of long-term subs for art teachers in high schools — actually three of them — but I learn from them just by watching what they do. In fact, I never used one of those — a lot of people call them smudge sticks — where they are really tight rolled up pieces of paper with a pencil point on it, but you can use it for blending. I never used one of those until I was doing a long-term sub at Troup, and the students there were using them, so I got into using it.”

Warner enjoys working with a variety of mediums including watercolor, acrylics, oils, gouache and oil pastels to create different expressions or feelings with his work. Currently, he said that much of his work is done in pencil.

“What I do every day is with pencil,” Warner said. “That is the basic thing there for me. It is the foundation for everything, so literally every day I draw something.”

His work is inspired by the world around him, and he places a heavy emphasis on regular practice.

“I did a project not this last spring, but a year ago to honor Vincent Van Gogh,” Warner said. “The last 70 days of his life, he averaged a painting or a drawing a day, and so I went from the day in July that he was shot and backtracked 70 days and started around May 18 and did one a day for 70 days. In with that project was a watercolor of my dad’s combat boots, and the water color was in a show up at The (Suffering Artist) gallery up in Hogansville.”

Besides Van Gogh, Warner’s work is also influenced by Ezra Sellers, Lamar Dodd and Hubert Shuptrine. In fact, while studying art at the University of Georgia, Warner considered Dodd’s style compared to his own.

“When I was at Georgia, I was a little concerned (because I) was not seeing a style develop,” Warner said. “You could see the work from many of the professors there, and you could tell who did it just by the style if it was Lamar Dodd or whoever. And I got to wondering, ‘I never do anything that looks like what I did earlier,’ but I guess I am developing something that is recognizable. You just can’t tell while you are there in it.”

His own style did develop over time though, and Warner’s work has now been featured at the Valley National Bank in Lanett, Alabama; The H. Grady Bradshaw Memorial Library in Valley, Alabama; and the LaGrange Art Museum. He has also received several awards for his work.

“I don’t worry about it (style) anymore,” Warner said. “What I do is what I do, and if anybody recognizes a style then that is good I guess.”

He enjoys talking about and creating art with other local artists, especially local groups like the Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange and the group that meets to paint in the open in Meriwether County.

“It’s a comradery thing, just being able to get together with people that you feel like are a member of your tribe, and that is what I feel like when I am with them (the artists in VAAL),” Warner said. “Also, the folks that get together for the Meriwether County Plein Air Paint Out. It is just, you can be around certain people forever, and it seems like you never know them, but this group of people and the people at the Meriwether County thing in Greenville, you don’t have to be around them but 30 minutes, and you know you feel like you’ve known them your entire life.”

The Open Air Meriwether: A Plein Air Painting Experience will take place on April 28 through 30, and some of Warner’s work will be sold at Artisans on The Square in downtown Greenville on April 29 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.