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Art with a historical flair

Charles Marvil specializes in religion, patriotism

Charles Marvil specializes in religion, patriotism

September 07, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Artist Charles Marvil's reasons for painting historical depictions seemed like the response you'd expect from a person explaining why he chose to enlist in the military.

"Since childhood it has been drilled into me the debt I owe to the country," said Marvil, 59, of Sharpsburg.

Marvil won top prize at the 2008 Maryland State Fair in the fine arts, watercolor division. The winning painting, "In the Name of Christ," depicts the Mormon prophet Moroni kneeling, with a mountainous range in the backdrop. The painting also won the champion professional prize at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair this year.

Marvil, a self-taught artist, specializes in religious subjects, patriotic paintings and historical depictions - part of a broader fascination with history that masquerades as a painting hobby. He's a historical re-enactor and has been involved in films about the Civil War and the French and Indian War.

Marvil said watercolor is his medium of choice. He sells his work on his Web site, www.anamericanodyssey.net. Born in Washington, D.C., Marvil grew up sketching here and there. He served in the military in the late '60s and lived in England and California to pursue surfing, all the while sketching and painting. He moved back to the East Coast in the early '80s, but wouldn't pursue art full time until 1991.

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Marvil recently decided to start selling his work online to mitigate his frustrations with doing commissions, which he said can be creatively limiting.

He is married and has an adult son, Seth, a photographer.

Marvil said he feels obligated to use paint to spread the truth about history, in part, because his family traces its roots to the region's earliest settlers, making him a purveyor of history by default. There's also lots of historical misinformation that he said is accepted as fact, which he said is another motivator to create art.

"It's part of the world, it's part of the human experience ...," Marvil said. "I feel there's an obligation to get the word out."

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