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Art & Life with Chick Curtis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chick Curtis.

Chick, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Miss Vanoy, my first-grade teacher, wrote in my first report card; “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, your son is a very nice boy. However, would you please have a talk with him. He announced to me that all he wants to do this year is draw. Please encourage him to do his arithmetic, spelling and reading”. Somehow, I got the message. It became clear that what I loved the most, I would have to squeeze in to my life between the Three R’s, chores and bedtime. Since my mother was an artist, I figured I could make a living being an artist too. I was quickly disabused of that notion.

Fast forward five decades, a career in high school counseling, a marriage and kids, I couldn’t help but notice that I still managed to draw and make art in various forms, from sign painting, cartooning, calligraphy, wood-working, and model trains.

Model trains?

Whatever else people think of train modeling, I took mine to unheard of levels by making as much as I could from scratch, including wooden train cars, roads with pot holes, rocks made out of plaster castings, trees and buildings. What triggered my present odyssey in art was painting the back drop of my garage-sized layout. One day I was so fascinated with my backdrop, I decided to buy a canvas and oils and just make a painting. It was a flop, but the spark had ignited a firestorm of interest, curiosity, and desire unlike anything I experienced before.

I began painting anything and everything. I read books, Went to museums, art shows, galleries. Scoured art magazines. I was possessed to learn as much as I could because I thought there was always a certain magic about art. I took countless workshops from Ken Auster, David Leffel, Jeremy Lipking, Ron Pokrasso and Joseph Todorovitch each of which unlocked a piece of the mystery and added to my joy of art making.

I now have a studio of my own where I lead life drawing classes twice weekly and offer an open studio painting class. I teach printmaking on top of this. I think Miss Vanoy would be relieved to know that I did learn some ‘rithmetic, ‘riting, and reading, but she probably would be most pleased to discover that I have added art to my life. If my wife gave me a report card, it might say, “Sweetheart, I know you are a very nice man, However, you can’t do art all day long. I need some help with the chores”

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I love to oil paint, do charcoal drawings, and make monoprints. Sometimes I will combine all three. Art making is like oxygen to me. I couldn’t live without it. As much as I enjoy making art, I love to teach it the most. My favorite students are the brand-new ones who are reluctant to begin painting. I like to teach the way I like to learn; with patience, thoughtfulness, tact, encouragement and honesty. Critique doesn’t have to be brutal or harsh to be effective. I feel like I’m successful when a student goes off on their own or to another level of instruction. I hope everyone I meet and teach leaves with a sense of confidence, curiosity, and eagerness to explore the world of creativity in whatever way feels most rewarding to them.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I agree that making art is an inherently solo activity. It’s important to be with other people now and then, particularly other artists. I am a member of a group called “Buckingham Studio” in Redlands where 6 of us artists meet every Friday to paint, chat, critique and talk about all sorts of things. I’m also a member of “Painters of Light Unite”, a loose, quirky bunch of painters, also of Redlands who prefer to do painting in plein aire. So, my advice to others is find some other artists in your area and get together on a weekly basis to make art, socialize and have fun. Look for art associations your area and join one. Take workshops! Fear no art.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can see some pretty good examples of my painting and printmaking on my website: To see my work in person, I show at the Artist Colony in Corona, the Riverside Community Art Association, and some of the California Art Club shows on a regular basis. Whenever I have a solo show or group show, I announce it on Facebook and email my friends about it. I am also a member of the Palm Springs Arts Council, Riverside Art Museum, the Chaffey Community Museum of Art where my work often appears now and then. I’ve participated in the Randy Higbee 6X6 show in Costa Mesa for the past four years.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2077 Stratford Way, Riverside, Ca 92506
  • Website:
  • Phone: 9517870569
  • Email:
  • Facebook: charles curtis

Image Credit:
My wife or I took the photos.

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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