Stella and the work, muse and creative journey of artist Charles Benton
Being invited into an artist’s studio is a slice of something sacred. You feel it wrap around you the moment you step in, and with part awe and inspiration, its creativity transports you.
The arc of artist Charles Benton has the makings of all things Best Self. After studying art in Rome, fashion design in London and a successful 20-year career in fashion design for prominent companies, he found himself at a crossroads in both his professional and personal lives. Having recently moved across the country from California to the Hudson Valley of upstate New York and telecommuting with his employer — he received a call, they wanted him back. These are the kinds of moments when we need to dig deep and heed the inner calling of our soul’s journey.
Familiarity and financial security, or a leap into the arms of vulnerability and the unknown? The terrifyingly delightful unknown please!
Of course it doesn’t hurt to have the loving support of a partner who says, You have wanted to do this your whole life. The time is now. Go for it. And by the way, we are transforming our dining room into your art studio.
And the rest is the ever-unfolding, enchanting journey of Charles Benton…
The moment I entered their home, I was pulled into the studio. As golden afternoon light bathed the room, the view overlooking the mighty Hudson River below and the Catskill Mountains in the distance captivated me — it was the most glorious space from which to create. With a table in the center of the room neatly lined with jars of colored pencils, ink pens and sketchpads, I tiptoed around feeling as if I was being given access to something quite intimate and private. It told a story. The walls were lined with drawings haphazardly taped about and in the corner sat a curiously weathered and worn chair of some stature. When Charles caught me glancing upon it, he told me, It was my father’s.
I would learn that his father, with whom he had been extremely close and whom had been tremendously supportive of his creative journey, had also only recently passed away. There in this studio of creation was a culmination of each experience that had led Charles to here, to this moment, to these new works of art he was birthing. The juxtaposition of old and new, and all the pieces, stories and parts in between converged in creativity.
Charles doesn’t sugarcoat his process. He recounts how the unknown can deem one powerless, paralyzed by fear…but he is also testament to what is possible when we keep stretching beyond the limitations of our own minds. And then once out on the other side of our experience, hindsight in its infinite wisdom, chastises us for not getting here sooner. And yet, he believes it has all unfolded precisely as it was meant to.
It takes a decision, a decision on behalf of your passion. Charles chose to leap. He removed the chandelier from the dining room and set up his studio. But then more importantly, he got down to business and began creating — a drawing a day. At first he didn’t know where it was leading, until he did.
Drawing, sketching, creating… and then she emerged: Stella.
His whimsical muse came forth in all of her large-eyed wonder and whimsy. Even then, he wasn’t quite sure why she was here, what he was going to do with her, but he continued to dress her. In one such drawing, he drew her in the latest couture from the Valentino runway, an elaborate construction as only the House of Valentino could provide.
The beauty emerges in that space of vulnerability and possibility — when we release from the attachment to outcome. It is within that space when we bare a part of ourselves and at our deepest core we yearn for a sign asking, Am I on the right path? That sign came very quickly to Charles when that particular post of Stella in her Valentino coat suddenly appeared upon the Instagram feed of MaisonValentino… and suddenly had 27K views and counting.
Yes, a star (or a Stella) was born.
“Wake up every morning with the thought and feeling that something wonderful is about to happen! Thoughts are things, so why not surround ourselves with positive ones every day!”Charles Benton
Learn more at CharlesHartBenton.studio
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You may also enjoy reading Following The Doodle: An Artist’s Journey Of Reclaiming A Long-Forgotten Passion by Barbara Laurie