The following biography was submitted by his daughter, Charlene Handford Barlow in March of 2006:
Charles R. Handford was a self-taught artist who painted landscapes in a realist style. Though his father and grandfather were wealthy and prominent business leaders in Batesville, Arkansas, the family money dwindled during his early childhood. As a result, his later childhood was one of poverty. He developed an interest in art and taught himself to paint by finding rough materials at the city dump. This talent directed him to enter the sign business during the years of the Depression.
In the late 1930s he married Ventrice Bissell of Shreveport, Louisiana. They eventually settled in Batesville where they had two children: Charlene Handford Barlow and Robert Handford. During the 40s and 50s he owned a sign shop and became one of the few neon sign makers in Arkansas. He and his wife became prominent in the community. They divorced in 1960 and Charles Handford went on to marry two more times and divorced each. His daughter eventually earned a Ph.D. became a Professor of Communications at LSUS and his son earned a Ph.D. in geology and eventually became a researcher and private consultant. Charles Handford took great pride in his two children.
After divorcing Ventrice Handford, he left the sign business and took up painting full time. He spent most of his life in Arkansas but did travel to other states
to paint during the summer months…..Dollywood and the West. He spent off-seasons at
his little place in an area called the Canyon near Greers Ferry,
early 1960s and early 1970s he painted on the Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. He fine-tuned a “fast draw” technique of painting which meant that he could paint a landscape in 20 or 30 minutes. He loved nothing more than painting in front of a crowd. For several years while painting in Jackson Square in New Orleans, he put on quite a show for those who would crowd around him. He was loud, flamboyant, charismatic, etc. Anyone who ever met him would never forget him.
Most of his work consisted of landscapes of the American West, swamps, and the mountain regions of Arkansas, Tenn., and he sometimes signed his work Chas Handford.
In the early 90s he developed congestive heart failure. He painted up until about 6 weeks before his death. A group of friends met the following June and accompanied his son and daughter who scattered his ashes in a remote area near Mountain View, Arkansas.