An Artist Tells All

Brass with Oranges by C.W. Mundy, 2010, oil on linen.
Brass with Oranges by C.W. Mundy, 2010, oil on linen.

No apologies from me for that bit of sensationalism (I must have written tabloid headlines in another life). The truth is I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with artist and instructor C.W. Mundy, who is generous with both his time and his talents. We chatted about his upbringing, strategies for being a successful artist, and more.

Artist Daily: What’s made you who you are and the painter that you are?
C.W. Mundy: I’m a product of my entire life—the good, bad, and ugly. All those experiences play into who I am as an artist. There came a time in my life when I got close to the point of crashing and burning, and that is when my love for the Lord took over and I got straightened out. I got focused on what was important to me and that is when the talent and the spirit and the work ethic came together. Mistakes are some of our best teachers and I’ve learned from most of mine and turned them into positives.

AD: What is your earliest memory of art?
CWM: My father was the most important man in my life. He would sit around and doodle—stick figures and funny little things—and I used to sit on his lap and watch. Soon I started doodling too, trying to imitate him. By the time I was seven, I’d have a pad and pencil with me most of the time. It kept me out of trouble—I was a handful.

AD: Do you remember the first successful artwork you did? What was it and how did you determine its success?
CWM: I once did a pencil drawing of JFK when I was in eighth grade. I just drew it freehand—no tracing paper or projector—and it looked just like him. My dad was so excited, he took it to all the guys in the police department (my father was a policeman), and even showed it to our senator.

Of late, Mundy has taught still life painting workshops with simple elements: several oranges and a brass kettle.
Of late, Mundy has taught still life painting workshops with
simple elements: several oranges and a brass kettle.

AD: Who is your favorite artist, living or dead?
CWM: Monet. Not because I thought that he was such an incredible artist but because he allowed art to be poetry and not just a factual facsimile or representation of a subject. And he painted subjects of his day, not historical, ethereal things or mythology. He painted the world he was living in.

AD: What still life painting object do you love to paint and why?
CWM: I love painting antique toys. They have such character, charm, and appeal. They’re goofy and funny—it’s just me. I bought one car at an antique toy store. When I saw it I said, “I have to paint that if I’ve ever had to paint anything.” I put it up for sale, but quickly I took it down—I can’t part with it.

AD: What is one of your greatest challenges as a professional artist and how do you meet that challenge?
CWM: The thing that I struggle with is continuing to get excited about what it is I want to paint. It is one thing to launch your career. It is another thing to sustain it—you have to find different challenges to make it exciting.

Mundy teaches that passion and a good work ethic are key to succeeding as a painter.
Mundy teaches that passion and a good work
ethic are key to succeeding as a painter.

AD: What practical tip do you give painters that you also use in your own practice?
CWM: It’s what Donald Pechman told me—the more you can get value relationships correct, the greater chance you have of being a better artist. That, plus passion and a good work ethic. You have to work hard to be an artist.

AD: Okay, here’s one we’ve all been dying to know—why do you go by C.W.?
CWM: When I grew up I was called Chuck—that’s what my dad was called, but I didn’t think it fit me. I went on a double-date in high school to see Bonnie and Clyde—and C.W. Moss was in it. He robbed his own filling station. I said to my friend, “Hey man, my initials are C.W., and that guy was a cool character.” That was it.

Mundy’s exceptional abilities as an artist stem from his commitment to his own creative approach and what he calls the ‘foundational truths’ of painting. In Drawing, The Artist's Magazine, The Watercolor Artist, Southwest Art, and The Pastel Journal, depending on the medium you gravitate towards, you'll find how to approach your subjects with tried-and-true tips and techniques that can help you create a realistic painting that reflects your passion and commitment to your craft, plus so much more. These are resources that simultaneously help you grow as an artist and give you an inspiring foundation to build upon.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

2 thoughts on “An Artist Tells All

  1. I enjoyed reading this interview. It makes me feel good to hear such down to earth real straightforward answers. I too was influenced by my parents but for different reasons. my parents always gave me praise and encouragement,and that is so important too.
    Kat Griffin