Charles McAuley was a landscape and figure painter born in Glenaan, Co Antrim. He used either oil, watercolours or ink and his subject matters included rivers, mountains, seascapes and rural villages. In 1929, Charles won the premier award for Celtic Design and the adjudicator was James Humbert Craig who turned out to be the first professional painter that McAuley had ever met. Craig said, ‘People will think you crazy when they see you out painting in the fields but don’t you pay any heed.’ McAuley’s response, ‘a great influence on me and I suppose was really responsible for my turning into a professional artist.’ Charles then sent a few of his works to the Royal Hibernian Academy, which were accepted.
With McAuley living at a difficult time, he was challenged with having to paint to live. Charles painted landscapes rather than figures simply because that is what people wanted. He once said that he could have moved in order to have a better career but nothing made him happier then painting in the Glens of Antrim. On top of these landscapes, he did produce a number of portraits of which he had been commissioned or of family members and these can now be seen in private collections.
Hewitt said, ‘his growing awareness was not merely graphic but demographic. This has made him for me the authentic regional artist, the painter who belongs to and finds his themes in a known place.’
McAuley’s first solo exhibition was at the Master’s Hang Gallery, Ballymena and today many of his works can be in private collections and in the Ulster Museum.