At the 10th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo (PACE) in Denver, Colorado, Eric Rhoads presented plein air painting legend CW Mundy with the PleinAir™ Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.
Watch the video that honors his life and journey to becoming a master painter here:
Charles Warren Mundy, today known as CW, was born in 1945 in Indianapolis; his hardworking parents raised two children, a girl Charleen and a boy Charles. Early on, Charles displayed a talent for art and athletics.
He was very familiar with the art of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell and spent much time observing their work, such as the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. So at seven years old, when he was commissioned by the Daily Vacation Bible School teacher to produce advertisements, he copied Walt Disney cartoon figures with the message, “Come to Daily Vacation Bible School!” onto cardboard.
While growing up, another passion of his was basketball. Charles was a starting guard on the Howe High School Varsity Basketball team, even helping to take his team to the “Semi-State” in 1964. His abilities in basketball earned him a scholarship to Lenoir Rhyne College in North Carolina, and he later transferred to Ball State University in Indiana where he could pursue both basketball and art.
At BSU, CW took every art class they offered and he played in various bands; he became interested in banjo after hearing Flatt and Scruggs’s “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.”
In 1969 he earned an undergraduate degree from BSU in secondary education with an emphasis on art.
After college, CW moved to California and studied painting “from life” under Donald “Putt” Putman in Hermosa Beach. Putt was the first living artist that CW had met who actually had a vibrant art career and was making money in the cowboy western art world.
At the same time, CW also pursued his music, playing in a popular band called The Tarzan Swing Band. Later, he would meet his future wife, Rebecca, while playing in a gospel bluegrass band.
Moving back to Indiana in the late 1970’s, CW combined his love for sports and art and began his sports illustration career and founding his company, Champion Illustrated Sports.
His commissions for the next decade included many professional teams and organizations; for example, he was the first artist / illustrator for the famed Indiana University Basketball Coach Bobby Knight.
CW and Rebecca married in 1989, and shortly after CW made the change from sports illustration to fine art after observing artwork by Clyde Aspevig and Richard Schmid. It was exciting to him to discover these artists painting like the “old pros.”
In 1995, the couple traveled to the Chicago Art Institute for “Claude Monet 1840-1926,” the largest retrospective of his paintings ever assembled (159 paintings)l, which he says “got his attention.” Later in 1995, they visited France and followed in the footsteps of Monet and the Impressionists, on what turned out to be the first of many plein air painting trips to Europe, including a trip to Italy in ‘96, England in ‘97, and Spain in ‘98, and more for a decade.
In 2003, they traveled to the Netherlands because CW was so influenced by the works of the early Dutch Masters.
While traveling, Rebecca would shoot video footage and photographs of CW painting on location. and upon returning home to Indiana, they produced a professional video and brochures of each trip, for the purpose of a gift to clients who purchased the paintings.
Still Life painting grabbed CW’s attention after studying the works of Emil Carlsen, Henri Fantin- Latour, and Impressionists such as Van Gogh, Renoir, and Manet.
CW has also been inspired to paint figurative work in various series, including ballerinas, portraiture, and children at the beach.
For CW, painting representational figures, still life, and plein air became a natural revolving situation, working for several months with the figure, then outdoors en plein air, then back in the studio painting “from life.” The rhythm kept him fresh and excited.
CW has had a teaching career for more than 25 years.
He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including a “Master Artist” with the Oil Painters of America, “Master Artist” with the American Impressionist Society, a “Fellow” with the American Society of Marine Artists, and a part of En Plein Air Masters in France in 2005-2006. CW was recently honored in 2018-2019 to be the first Inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children’s museum in the world.
CW has been driven to continually be seeking new and fresh ways to paint, never resting on his laurels, always trying to push himself forward.
PleinAir Magazine Publisher, Eric Rhoads, said this of CW, “He is so good, his work so strong, I honestly did not think he could ever get any better, yet I watch him push through, experimenting, and doing paintings that push the boundaries of great painting. In the years to come, CW Mundy will be remembered not only as one of the greats of this generation but will go down in history as one of the greats of all time.”
Please join us in celebrating CW as we present him with our highest honor — The PleinAir Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.