Charles MacCarthy trained at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (Dip. AD) and Brighton Polytechnic (Art Teachers' Certificate). After a period of teaching and working as an auxiliary nurse, he was awarded a major bursary by Southern Arts which enabled him to paint full time.
Initially painting landscape, he gradually abandoned this in order to paint more intimate subjects in a domestic setting. Through still lifes and interiors he tries to evoke in paint both the objects and the atmosphere of his everyday surroundings. Working slowly with muted tones and simplified compositions, stillness and calm predominate.
In 1986 he moved to Herefordshire where as well as exhibiting regularly he has curated a number of religiously themed exhibitions. He also exhibits in London with the Piers Feetham Gallery. In 2015 he was given a solo exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky as part of the Thomas Merton centenary celebrations.