During the 1960′s, when Charles was thinking about launching his first series of prints, the public was not as educated in art as they are today. Charles knew that his subject matter would have to appeal to the majority. He also knew that his products had to be priced so that anyone could afford to purchase what he created. He felt that if people started buying inexpensive prints and visiting art galleries, they would develop a taste for art, and in time would become serious art buyers. He was right… People have developed a taste for quality art.
Charles grew up in Mathis, Texas, where he had the opportunity to spend hours on large ranches. Generous land owners gave him permission to wander freely over their ranches and he observed creatures in their natural surroundings. He developed a lifelong love of nature, whether it be in the tiniest of flowers or the largest of animals. It was at this time that he became a true naturalist.
Art classes were not offered in the Mathis schools, and most of Charles’ teachers were annoyed with his innate interest in drawing. He was told that he “would never amount to anything” if he just sat around drawing. After graduating from high school in 1948, he enrolled in the University of Corpus Christi and delightfully discovered that he could actually major in art!
He later attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos (now Texas State University). It was there that he met his future wife, Dawn Laurence.
After a year in San Marcos, Charles decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force and serve during the Korean War Conflict.
Charles and Dawn were married in 1951. A few years later- after Charles left the Air Force- they moved to Austin, and Charles enrolled in the University of Texas where he earned a Fine Arts Degree.
For several years Charles worked as a technical illustrator. He then did advertising art and illustrations for many companies including Lone Star Beer and Texas Game and Fish Magazine.
In the early 1960′s Charles and Dawn moved their family- which now included five children- to Houston. Charles did a series of pen and ink prints as a trial to see if there would be an interest and to see if anyone would buy them. There was indeed an interest and they sold very well!
In 1965, the Beckendorfs moved to the Texas Hill Country near Fredericksburg. Charles released his second series of prints which were also from pen and ink drawings of animals. He sold these prints wholesale to different businesses- sporting goods stores, restaurants, icehouses, art galleries- throughout the state of Texas.
Charles then individually water colored 100 of each of the 13 subjects. Since these hand water colored prints sold out quickly, he realized there would probably be a demand for full color reproductions of paintings.
Since clients from around the state traveled to Charles’ residence outside of Fredericksburg to purchase his prints and paintings, he thought perhaps he should have a gallery in town. He said, “Any fool artist who opens an art gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas, should open on April Fool’s Day”. On April 1, 1971, Charles and Dawn opened their first gallery.
From the very first black and white prints of 1964 through April of 1996- when Charles passed away- he painted thousands of originals in all mediums, produced over 1500 different prints, sculpted several bronzes and created six books.
The legacy of Charles Beckendorf lives on in his art.