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 Charles E. Stanford  (1909 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: Washington/British Columbia / Canada      Known for: marine subject painting, sailing ships

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Ad Code: 4
Charles E. Stanford
from Auction House Records.
Whaler's Rendezvous
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles E. Stanford was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on October 8, 1909 to Margaret and Charles Stanford.  He was the second child and had one older brother (Ray) and two younger brothers (Frank and Noel).

His young life was spent in Vancouver with his family.  Relatives remember that he and his best friend (Herby Sharp) spent much of their time building a small sail boat and sailing it in English Bay to watch the big freighters arrive and depart.  He did not complete high school, but it is recalled that he began sketching during this high school years.  This theory is borne out by a pen and ink drawing that is dated 1926 and called A Chinese Mandarin and on the drawing it says “Art-Advanced Pen and Ink”, which must indicate that it was prepared as class work when he was sixteen years old.  He left school shortly after this at age 16 or 17 to ship out on the big freighters that he and his friend watched on English Bay as boys.  It is claimed that during this period he made it as far as the Orient.

At 19 or 20, he started to work for Foss Tug and Barge in Seattle and worked on the tugs on and off to support his growing interest and talent as a painter.  On the docks they called him “The Painter” because they realized that they were his prime subjects. During this period he became a student of Eustace Ziegler.  Also during this period, he worked with the great Alaskan painter Sidney Lawrence.  His work on the tugs and painting with Zeigler and Lawrence lasted about 8 years.

In 1938, he became a Marine Ships Inspector and married Marguerite Peters.  They had a daughter Jill that year and decided to move to Carmel, California to study under Armin Carl Hansen.  They stayed in Carmel for one year and returned to Seattle at the beginning of the Second World War.  Stanford went to work as a ship safety inspector for the Navy.  He then went on to become the editor of a trade magazine called Associated Ship Builders in Seattle.

In 1944, another daughter, Robin, was born.

After WWII, Stanford went into the advertising business for Milne and Company as the art director.  He was responsible for directing the art work that created the layouts. The agency worked with such familiar accounts as Nalley’s Valley, Roman Meal and Bar S Meats. He recruited graphic artists such as Willard Cox, Maury Logan and Walter Landor, who were also artists in their own right and owned commercial studios.  Milne and Co went out of business in the late 40’s and Stanford attempted to begin painting full time and, for a short while, painted and taught painting. 

In 1951, Stanford gave up his dream of being a full-time painter because of family obligations and went to work as plant manager of Washington Steel in Tacoma.  He got the job from an admirer of his art and was set the task of encouraging the failure of this company, so that tax benefits could be realized by the owners.  However, the job uncovered a new talent of Stanford’s, the ability to manage and an aptitude and personality for selling.  Instead of managing a failure with Washington Steel, he made it a successful company.  His business acumen was appreciated and recognized and, in 1954, he was asked to help head up the Prescott Company in Portland, Oregon.  Prescott manufactured sawmill machinery.  Stanford, in his capacity as manager and then Vice President, traveled extensively throughout the United States, South America and New Zealand.  During his years with Prescott, painting took a back seat, although he did paint during his free time. 

In 1976, Stanford retired from Prescott (renamed Portland Machinery) and became a consultant to businesses in the sawmill field.  During this period, he began painting again full time.  He also taught painting to his good friend and author Ernest K. Gann. 

In 1979, Stanford became a fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA). 

Charles Stanford passed away on January 18, 1982, following a long illness.

Edited and authenticated by his daughter, Robin Stanford Johnson in 2010.  This memorial is said to have been written by his good friend and student, Ernie Gann. 

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