By Shya Beth
You could say George Charriez’s journey into the art world is his whole life’s story—and that journey is constantly evolving in new ways. With a deep appreciation for the natural world from a young age, translating that into a love of art was easy for George. And within his chosen medium of pyrography—using fire like a paint brush—his work takes on a life of its own.
Using a wood board as his canvas, the grain of the wood gives his work an interdimensional feeling—it looks like a painting, but there is something more to it. George first started “playing with fire” when his parents gifted him a basic wood burning kit when he was 12 years old, but his interest in art developed further into more traditional aspects of painting.
Spending his early childhood in upstate New York, George and his family moved to north Georgia when he was 9 years old. “I grew up spending time with my siblings and friends being outdoors,” George said. “I was a pretty active kid; we used to ride bikes all over the neighborhood, have adventures in the forest, play basketball, football, go swimming and fish all day long during the summers. I really enjoyed growing up and being immersed in nature.”
Horses have always been one of George’s favorite animals, and he has always been drawn to their beauty and personality. “One of my best friends growing up had horses and we would ride them almost every day. For a long while, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride much but I kept creating artwork that featured horses.”
A Lifelong Passion
As far back as George can remember, he always had a passion for art—trying to draw or paint everything from his favorite athletes and superheroes to animals, landscapes and everything in between. His family encouraged his creative side; George’s father was a talented artist, and his uncle has had a long career in the visual arts as an industrial designer.
In 1995, George attended The Savannah College of Art and Design until transferring to Pratt Institute and relocating to Brooklyn, New York. “As a child, I was always drawing illustrations and pictures in order to communicate things I was interested in, so it seemed like a very natural fit for me to study illustration and visual communication.” George explained.
When George finished art school, he took on a job working with his uncle at an industrial design firm. It wasn’t something that he studied at art school, but it was closely related to the field of art. “As a young man fresh out of art school, I found it to be very exciting to aid in the creation of things like car interiors, medical equipment, power tools and other things.”
However, that was never meant to be George’s full-time career. Fine art still called to him, and after two years of working as an industrial designer, George relocated back to Georgia in 2000 when he had the opportunity to work with a fine art publishing company. George fully delved into the world of oil painting and fine art, honing his craft and working on enhancing his style.
Inspired by the Past
Years later, working as a professional artist, George happened to watch a documentary on America in the 1800s. The documentary featured photos from the Civil War, the Trail of Tears and the Underground Railroad. “The images spoke to me not only because of the look on the people’s faces,” George said, “but also for the photo itself. The image and paper was so old that it had this burnt look to it. I could only imagine how many hands had touched this photo over the past 150 years to cause it to look the way it did.”
It was as if the paper itself wanted George to tell a story of how it came to look like that. “I was drawn to that and began to think of how I could create that look with a different or an unexpected medium. That’s when I began once again to experiment with pyrography.”
Up until this point, George had primarily been creating oil paintings. Once he rediscovered pyrography, it seemed like a natural fit to add oil paint to his pyrography artwork. “I feel that sometimes you can’t tell the whole story of the horse in an image without including the color, because sometimes it’s a big part of their personality and who they are.”
As George’s love of horses continued to grow with each passing year, an amazing opportunity unfolded for him to exhibit his work at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in 2015. “There I was able to see up close and personal some of the most beautiful, majestic animals I had ever seen in my entire life, which inspired my creativity even more,” he said.
With a large amount of his work focusing on the equine form, it was evident to George he was going to not only need more space for his work, but that he wanted to expand his art career. Besides taking commissions and creating his own original artworks, George just recently opened his own art gallery, called 4Elements Fine Art and Framing, in Blue Ridge, Georgia. This is a creative space where people can come watch him live and explore the work available in his gallery.
“In October of 2021, my wife and I bought out an art gallery/framing business where we plan to have a grand re-opening,” George said. “It will feature my artwork and other contemporary fine art, and is called 4Elements Art because I am using the four elements found in nature to create the artwork. It’s everything coming full circle, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
For more information, visit 4elementsart.com
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