A native of Atchison, Kansas, Blair earned a B. A. in art at the University of Kansas and a M.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute. In addition to his teaching at BJU, he also served on the art faculty at KCAI summer programs and as a member of the cooperating faculty at the Greenville County Museum of Art.
Blair exhibited his work in more than a hundred museums, art galleries and universities and won more than ninety national, state, and regional awards. His works have been purchased for more than 2500 private, corporate, and public collections. His exhibitions include the Art in Embassies Program; Ringling Museum of Art; Morris Museum, Augusta, Ga.; and the Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, Tenn. In 1995, the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, S.C., hosted a major retrospective of his work. In 2000, a 40-year retrospective show was held at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. Blair refers to his style as “neither realistic nor abstract. I refer to my work as visual poetry.” Although best known for his oil, gouache, and acrylic paintings, late in his career, Blair began exhibiting sculpture, especially whimsical animals crafted of plywood or spruce pine boards. He recalled telling his BJU students to "never, never grow up and take yourself seriously."
Curiously, Blair did not discover that he was color-blind until he was an art student at the University of Kansas. Asked to do a self-portrait, he painted himself green. Although he once called his color-blindness an asset because he was “not hindered by color combinations,”
Blair was a member of the South Carolina Arts Commission for twelve years and also served as chairman of the commission for two years. In 1970, he and two other members of the Bob Jones University art faculty, Emery Bopp and Darell Koons, founded Hampton III Gallery, one of the first commercial galleries in Upstate South Carolina. In 2005 Blair was awarded the Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement, the highest award given by the state of South Carolina in the arts. In 2016, the Greenville Metropolitan Arts Council honored Blair with the exhibition “Artists Touched by Carl R. Blair,” which featured the work of 55 Upstate artists who were influenced and motivated by Blair.
- "I'm a country boy. My dad had 25 coon hounds, wolfhounds and cur dogs, chickens, cows and all kinds of horses and mules. They were my best friends growing up." Cindy Landrum, "Down on the Farm: Nationally Recognized Landscape Artist Tries His Hand at Sculpture," Greenville Journal, February 1, 2008, 54-55.
- Examples of Blair's work from Hampton III Gallery website.; examples from Elderart.com website. Archived June 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Wim Roefs, "Carl A Blair: A Career" (catalogue essay)
- Greenville News, January 26, 2000, 6N.
- Cindy Landrum, "Down on the Farm: Nationally Recognized Landscape Artist Tries His Hand at Sculpture," Greenville Journal, February 1, 2008, 54-55.
- Greenville News, February 24, 2008, 1D.
- Voice of the Alumni [BJU] (Winter 1998), 16.
- Announcement of the Verner Award by the South Carolina Arts Commission.
- Greenville News, April 3, 2016, D1, D5. Blair's work has also been featured at Elder Art Gallery, Charlotte, NC; If ART Gallery, Columbia, SC; and the Mary Praytor Gallery, Greenville, SC.