Painting: Head of a man against a green background

Friends through life.

In Zoe Cameron Blog by Zoe Cameron

Oil portrait of artist Charlie Watts as a young man.
Portrait of Charles .(Detail) .1987. Oil on paper.

Remembering Charlie Watts on his birthday.

16 July 1954 – 2 December 2018

Charles remained through life, my dear friend , a gentleman, artist and an enlightened teacher.

We met whilst studying at Gloucester College of Art. He was on the Foundation Course with Tutor Mick Maslen , and I was on the sculpture Degree Course. On my twentieth Birthday we got together, and  remained so for 20 years, and so began our life long friendship.

1982 . Portrait of Zoe by Charles Watts . Oil on canvas .

As young art students together, we never had enough money, and always lived in cold houses in the middle of no where. We made the best out of what we had, if we had land we grew veg and kept chickens, and when we had plum trees we made jam and wine. When we lived at the cottage in Redmarley, Charles used the the old lean to cider press as a studio, and in the winter the snow drifted onto him, through the roof tiles so he had to dress up in layers and come in frequently to thaw out his frozen fingers so he could keep painting . I worked in a tiny room upstairs with an old cat for company , and a little window which overlooked a few dwellings and fields towards Gloucester.

1983.Charlie Watts and Zoe, Redmarley.
Painting with the cat .Oil on paper.
1985. Our cottage, Redmarley. Oil on board.
1983. Washing the chicken. (An egg she had been sitting on had exploded). Drawing.
1985 .The front room . Oil on board .

We were all so excited when Charles won a place on the Masters Degree Course, at Royal College of Art in London. One of his tutors was Proff Peter De Francia, whome he greatly admired. For his initial interview we had driven up  to London with his big oil paintings tied with ropes to the roof rack of his Dads old renault the whole car shook as the wind caught under the stretchers when anyone overtook or if he accelerated too much.

While attending the RCA Charles lived with other RCA students in a squat , coming home to the cottage at Redmarley and the views of the Malvern hills some weekends. Often bringing friends. A lively and varied group of young painters . We ate simple food and drank home made wine . They were full of confidence and ideas, and enjoyed lively debate until the early hours , then they made a bed where ever they could, jammed into every corner of our tiny cottage.

1985.The old sofa. Oil on board.

Some years later , Charles was offered a Fellowship at Falmouth College of Art and Design, and so we headed for Cornwall with our few moth eaten possessions, and lots of paintings in a rented van. To begin with, we lived in a converted single story farm building and studio owned by Josephine Gooden , next to her Lizard farmhouse . It had for some years, been the studio of her close friend Bryan Ingham who continued to visit on his old motor bike. Josephine was a kind woman, who liked the company of artists and introduced us to John Wells once when he visited her for tea .

At this time we also acquired a little rescue dog named Ruby , and I took her with me to my rented Acme studio in the old net loft, Breageside, Porthleven . Soon Charles would join me there. But at that time the place was bitter in the winter, from the sea wind which blew snow through the worn gaps in the loft doors and made any floor rugs whistle as they lifted. In the summer though it was lovely , and we survived the lean months by holding a summer School there and selling work in local galleries.

1987.Drawing of Ruby.
1994. Charles on the beach with Ruby
Breageside Porthleven. Oil on board. 1987

Eventually, we had just enough money for a down payment on our first home, a little cottage in Praze an Beeble, beside the methodist Chapel . There we each had a small room as a studio , and lectured together at Falmouth Uni and Cornwall College to pay the bills. 

1991.View from the studio , Praze-an-Beeble. Oil on Canvas .

After many years we parted, but continued to share the house. We had become close friends, and like family, until his passing on December 2nd 2018 .

I feel very lucky to have spent time with Charles the day before he died. We had been sitting on the sofa talking about all kinds of things as usual, and discussing the figures in one of his paintings, until it was time for me to leave. I stood outside the front of the house, and from the pavement I waved to him through the big window, he waved back, still sitting on the sofa ,smiling.

At peace now and missed by us all.

Ex Votive painting. Asking for Charles to be made well . (Painted after spending time with him in hospital ). Oil on board. From the series ‘One Hundred painted Vows’.
Charles died . Oil on board.From the series ‘One Hundred painted Vows’. Ex Votive painting.
Charles visiting Bluebell Studio 2016.
An early Drawing by Charles Watts. This drawing was made when he was at the RCA , and is about the death of his Grandmother.
By Charles watts. Oil on paper .

To see the gallery of work he put together , go to :-

NB. When this tribute was posted, I became the subject of online abuse and misrepresentation. Our past was targeted and falsely rewritten, by those neither present or entitled. I stay true to myself, loved ones and my art work. I wish those who participate well and hope that some day you find healing.