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The Paintings of


My intention as a painter is to offer a visual representation of our psychological battles. When we lay eyes on a stranger or a friend it can be very misleading. The individual may appear outwardly calm and collected, but inwardly they may be struggling, overwhelmed or swimming a current of unrelenting sorrow. The only indication of their inner struggle might be reflected in the individual's coping skills; they reach for a drink or light a cigarette. It is my hope that by addressing these inward battles through visual representation that it will help individuals know they are not alone and help them find constructive ways to approach these issues.

© John Running

by Mary Sojourner

Charlotte Bynar, watercolor artist: "White paper holds potential. With every stroke of paint, the potentials narrow until one specific story is revealed."

We are in her studio, the walls white, the dogs as muses. Bynar works on dry paper, with an exacting technique she refines with every stroke. We watch as her brush creates gray-green eyes, then refrains, leaving white paper for the glint of life. After it has dried, Bynar applies another layer of gray-green, the white glint intact; sometimes as many as twenty layers of paint, so that by the time she is finished, the gray-green eyes look directly into yours.

What some painters achieve in oils, Bynar masters in watercolors: precision of detail, depth of color, a vibrancy evolved from her unique method. She speaks of her belief in excellence, "To use white paint is to admit one's mistakes. Watercolor is largely unforgiving, and I demand much of the medium. I've painted for over two decades and believe this insistence on excellence is crucial.”

Her paintings pull us in, not just through their precision and radiance, but by their themes: a man committed not to life or death, but rather simply existing; a woman who thinks she is trapped inside a box, and the man who thinks he’s trapped her. Her human subjects tell stories about themselves, sometimes pretty, sometimes challenging ---always truthful.

Bynar has brought herself and her work a long way. She was born in Sun Valley, Idaho, May 5, 1966, to a hospital housekeeper and a miner and painter. She won the Scholastics Art Award in 1983 and 1984, held her first exhibitions in 1988 in Flagstaff’s Macy's Coffee Shop and Gallery, where she established a loyal base of patrons who commissioned her for portraits.

Bynar has exhibited throughout the country: 1992-1998 The Robinson Gallery, Key West, FL, and Los Angeles, CA; 1997 NAWA, NY; Jefferson Studios, in Phoenix, AZ; 2000 Hidden Beauty Gallery and the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, AZ; 2002 Kestler Gallery, Bend, OR; 2003 Sprigg Gallery, CA. 

Bynar takes as much as a year and a half to complete a painting, which is not surprising when you learn some of the guidelines Bynar has created in her Principles for Painting:

Work diligently at understanding the medium. "Mastering" the medium

would imply that one's education can be completed, which is simply not the case.

Neither medium nor painter should dominate each other; they must work as allies.

In order for you to do your best work, you must, at some time during each

work of art, love every inch of it and be original in being yourself.

Charlie Bynar is as luminous and disciplined as her paintings. She is original in being herself. Her work reflects that simple truth, that complex love.


David Bowie, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen, Brian Eno, Ernest Hemingway, and Salvador Dali

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