What’s your background?
I was born in Oxnard California, after the death of my birth mom I lived on a small farm in El Rio with my brother Rob and my grandparents. My father remarried and my brother and I moved to Ventura, where I was raised.
Ventura could be described as a typical Southern California beach town, north of Los Angeles. I attended Ventura Community College and there met the artist Gerd Koch. Gerd was an excellent art teacher but even more important to me an excellent and influential artist.
I transferred to Central Missouri State University and majored in art education.
I returned to CMSU a few years later and did a MA in painting. My most influential instructor there was Margaret (Peg) Peterson, she was a brilliant, all be it, slightly crazy artist. After that I taught in a variety of locations and painted and showed as much as possible.
In 1989 I returned to school once again, this time to the University of Kansas. There I majored in both drawing and painting and completed my MFA in 1991.
Since that time I have taught art and pursued both painting and exhibiting. As of this time my work has been shown in over 200 exhibits including 40 solo shows. My work can be found in several private collections as well as the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest California and the Museum of Northern California Art in Chico, California. I am currently represented by the Mahlstedt Gallery in New Rochelle, New York. I live with my wife, two children, two dogs and lizard in Fair Oaks California.
Does your artwork come from that background?
Short answer to that question would be yes. I feel that the artist should mostly focus on what they have a personal connection with, be it background experiences or just interest in. In my case it is the combination of being raised in a suburban environment, my first memories coming from a small farm and my rather intense interest in the origins and function of art.
What are you trying to say with your work?
It is my desire to record my personal journey from both a physical and psychological perspective and perhaps make connections with others who have had similar experiences. I believe we are just one small step from the cave, we are slaves of biology, unable to escape our past. We want to evolve and spend a great deal of time telling ourselves we have done so while at the same time often behaving in ways that could only be described as primitive. This inner turmoil between our biological self and our perceived or hoped for image of our self is where my work attempts to hang out.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I started out as an oil painter but lost my sense of smell to turpentine. I was afraid this was not a good sign health wise so switched to acrylic. I was not totally happy with the gloss of the paint and discovered Gouache. Gouache was awesome but the fear of cracking worried me. I started to work on board and ran into a product that combined both the look of gouache with the flex of acrylic. I have worked in the medium, adding black colored pencils to it for the last 15 years.
Do you work in a studio?
YES I DO WORK IN A STUDIO! I say this very excitedly since it has been less than two years I have had one. Prior to that I worked most anywhere, primarily in my car. My studio is fairly small and is a converted bomb shelter. The lack of decent natural light makes it necessary to have good artificial light but aside from this one shortcoming I love my studio!
What is the one thing in your studio you could not be without?
Well after years of not having a studio I can say you can be without most stuff aside from paints and brushes. However the item I most love in my studio is my drawing table. It is a luxury to have such a nice surface to work on!
Who are your biggest influences?
Personal and direct influences would be Gerd Koch (Abstract Impressionist), Margaret Peterson (Once described in a review as “The crazy lady of the midwest.”) and Nick Vacarro (Hard edged abstractionist who also created toys under the name Hans Hupp.)
As far as famous artist are concerned I have always enjoyed Van Gogh, Picasso and Soutine. Artist that break the mold and set off in their own direction have always been my favorite.
Music chosen by Ronald
What is your favorite piece of work by yourself?
Currently my favorite work is entitled “Not that Hungry” It is a scene in a suburban setting that combines a suburban backyard with a mask like figure eating a horse. Humor often creeps into my work and in this case it is in the form of the old saying, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
Most of the time it takes about two weeks from the start of a painting to the completion of the work. Drawings take only one or two days.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
When I feel a work is finished, it is. I do allow a one day break just to think about and analyze a work to confirm it’s completion prior to starting on the next work. I normally have three or four works ready to start so walking away from a work is no problem, I’m ready to move on to the next piece.
What project are you working on now?
I am working on a painting called “The Spice of Life”. This work combines various animals with old style distorted dolls. I often incorporate toys in my work as icons of our society.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
This was given to me by Gerd Koch. “Never allow yourself to lose your sense of play. Play is the well spring of creativity and when you become too serious it will dry up.”
What was the first piece of art you sold?
Hard question to answer as I don’t remember. I can tell you the first work I sold to a stranger was called “Big Blue Pig”, which was just that! It sold to Margaret Thatcher…ok, not the Prime Minister, but a lady living in Ojai California who owned and operated a private school.
Do you find it hard to navigate the art world?
For the most part no. Making proposals, approaching galleries or art spaces has been made far easier through the computer. I can put together an exhibition proposal in a fraction of the time it use to take with slides and hard copy. The only confusing part is the computer itself, seems as if it is always changing and there are times I feel like a very slow moving dinosaur trying to keep up.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I keep a lot of pans in the fire so to speak. I usually have at least six proposals out at any given time. I keep enough framed work nearby to do at least two shows at any given moment. This enables me to take advantage of any last minute opportunities that might occur, often shows that are scheduled by galleries might fall through and they may need an exhibit right away. Currently I have two exhibitions coming up, one in downtown Sacramento and the second at a college in Reno Nevada.
I keep a list of followers and contacts and send out announcements, mostly by e-mail, for any upcoming shows. I do keep tract of art trends but more out of curiosity as it does not have any effect on what I do.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I use to view art of artist of similar experience who worked in like sizes and materials. I would price my work to fit in with theirs. These days I have gallery representation and they set the prices for me.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
I honestly am not up on social networking so would have to say no. I do have the address from Pixels Ronald-walker.pixels.com
Is there anything that really annoys you about the art world?
For me at least I view art as being about communication and expression. I think there is an over emphasis on the financial aspects of art. Normally it does not bother me unless it seems to overwhelm the real purpose of art.
What advice would you give new artists?
Try to work on your art on a daily basis. Whether you are in the “mood” or not it does not matter, it is creating the habit. Even if you have days where you do very little, at least you did something. Think of it as waves on the sand, a little each day, and you will get things done.
Music choice by Ronald
Have you got hobbies?
I like hiking , getting out in nature, animals, reading about science and crypto-zoology and playing basketball.
One final note, I do not view art as a luxury or a frivolous extra that humans participate in. I view art as being part of the core of mankind, vital to survival.
The purposes and uses of art are varied and numerous but here are a few I consider particularly important.
Art serves as a form of non verbal communication. Art transcends the limitations of the written or spoken language. For example you may not speak French but you can understand the communication being expressed in a French painting.
The second major advantage of the visual arts as a form of communication is its immediacy. A lecture, book ,movie, piece of music, play, all contain wonderful and varied amounts of communication but it takes time to have this information delivered to you.
The visual arts, such as painting, presents the information to you all at once. In this day of age where we have weapons capable of destroying the world anything that aides in our understanding of other people and cultures is vital to our continued survival.
Art aides in our sense of community. One theory as to why our species came out on top over the physically stronger Neanderthal was our heightened ability to work together which was aided by art.
The visual image or symbol helped tie groups together into what might be called giant families. Belonging to and identifying with a larger group would be a major advantage survival wise. Rather than doing everything yourself now you could have specialist who might do a certain task better than other individuals. This would create trade which would further the development of societies and cooperation from group to group.
The use of the visual image is still used today to group people together whether it is the flag of a particular country, uniforms, sports paraphernalia or whatever. To sum up the survival feature, if you are a Neanderthal and you only have your immediate family you would have no chance when confronted by large numbers of opponents cooperatively working against you.
Lastly, through the development and enhancement of creative thought. The visual arts have been shown to strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills, it encourages innovative thought. It helps create people who seek new ways of solving problems and not just people who follow directions. Innovative creative thinking is the primary ingredient in human progress and invention, society would stagnate or disappear without it.
Art is not a frivolous luxury but rather the glue that holds society together and the grease that keeps it moving forward.
I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂