Charles Eckart was born in Oakland, California and grew up in Yosemite Valley. He is a painter who started etching with his own press in 1966. The etching has always paralleled the various phases of his painting development. After focusing on the figure for many years, his work changed to landscape after he moved from San Francisco to Point Reyes in 1985. Eckart's work has developed from early expressionist figurative images to the current abstracted landscapes.
The paintings of Charles Eckart are a celebration of the expressive powers of pure pigment. Eckart began painting early and found inspiration in the Yosemite Museum’s collection of works by Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran honing his skills in both draughtmanship and painting, but found that just getting it down, or replicating what he saw did not quite get at the more metaphysical sensation – the awe that was inspired by the surroundings. For Eckart, it was a metaphysical preoccupation that was accompanied by a more physical sensation – that retinal vibration in the eyes that accompanies looking at something indefinably moving.
In 1985, Charles moved to West Marin where the natural surroundings echoed for him the original visual sensations that had always inspired him. He remembers clearly looking down at an area of ground covered with grass, dirt and leaves with their drying edges curling upward. “It was a visual epiphany”, he recalls, “an aha moment.” He began his series of “Ground Cover” paintings - works that were built rather than drawn with layers of paint patiently and deliberately applied. In a review of these works at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Kenneth Baker wrote “for all their honest materialism, Eckart’s paintings feel suffused with soul. They read as true reports of the entanglement of decisions, acts and recognitions that composes any one of us”. (Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, November 2012).
Eckart’s virtuosity as a painter stems from an intimate understanding and love of his material. He knows how oil paint behaves and is continually finding ways of pushing the boundaries of what he can do with it. The layering of color upon color provides the viewer with an invitation to explore the sensations created by rich pure generous applications and the experience provided by laying cool against warm, cool against cool and warm against warm often using as much as 20 pounds of paint, creating a work that is as much “object” as “picture.”