|About The Artist|
William Russell Walker brings together two powerful movements of realism – the Academic and the Romantic. 19th Century Academic painters elevated technical excellence to the level of mastery. As noted collector, Frederick C. Ross, explains it:
It was precisely because they mastered the techniques of the past, built upon them and then opened them up to an avalanche of new subject matter and Enlightenment ideals, that they accomplished the greatest half-century of painting in art history…. It was a time when the techniques and knowledge of how to produce great art, and pass down that knowledge to the next generation, was at its absolute zenith…. Drawing… modeling, perspective, illusion, recognizable objects or elements from the real world, and with it the ability to capture, exhibit, and poetically express subjects and themes about mankind and the human condition and about man's trials on this speck of stardust called Earth .…It was a time when the work and sweat of 30 prior generations of devoted artists achieved a codification of methods, standards and techniques, which produced the very pinnacle of what Traditional Realist art could achieve1.
Bouguereau is a shining example of Academic excellence.
Romantic painters, on the other hand, were realists intent on presenting truth in a moodier, more evocative pose than their brothers, the Academics. Delacroix is an example of a master Romantic painter, filling his canvases with energetic, larger-than-life scenes that projected great emotion.
William Russell Walker’s work combines both the technical excellence of the Academic movement and the evocative appeal of the Romantic. The way he paints is singularly, uniformly and recognizably his. His paintings are Academically structured, focused, with flowing lines of truth that “exquisitely suggest the message, without any direct comment2,” memorializing the human experience at poignant moments. Standing in front of one of his paintings, one can sense a highly structured intimate form of communication, minimal in representation (i.e., there are no extraneous dialogues going on in the background, no white noise, no unnecessary decoration), that exquisitely suggests the message.
One might say his paintings form a structured form of intimate dialog between two parties. His work has the technical structure of an academic painting, with minimal distraction and a simple yet emotionally charged message that opens a dialog between the viewer and the painting. It invites the viewer to come closer. There is a recognition – a common link in human experience that binds the viewer to the painting. It’s message moves them and, in its best form, leads to greater insight and understanding of this experience called life… an epiphany that can, on occasion, be life transforming.
Walker received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Columbus College of Art and Design (Columbus OH) in 1994. Even then, his unique style was evident. Upon graduation, his painting instructor had this to say about him: “William Russell Walker is what I would consider to be a student of the old masters. His work is classical but yet has a sense of contemporary melancholy…. It is extremely rare to find an artist who seeks such noble path…. With full confidence, I know he can become a great artist of the modern romanticism.” Gordon S. K. Lee (MFA, Cranbrook)
“My paintings are not to entertain. They are to reflect who we are,” said the artist of his work. “I paint what I recognize and what I recognize is human emotion.. I’m not painting an illustration of life – I’m painting life with all of its passion. To see someone relate to one of my paintings is its own reward.”
One of those who relates is Aaron Fodiman, editor/publisher of Tampa Bay Magazine. “Other artists paint, but William Russell Walker’s work stops you where you are, “he said. “You want to get up close, to see what’s there.”
Frederick C. Ross, notable art collector, captured it well. “Modern art is about art, but the greatest art in history is about life.” (Forbes, July 3, 1995)
Pursuit of Excellence
Walker is tireless in pursuing his art, a perfectionist who recognizes within himself a singular but true path. To him, the pursuit of excellence should be the plumb line for all serious artists. Recently, he read something that struck a chord. “The difference between talent and genius is, that talent says things which he has never heard but once, and genius things which he has never heard.” “The world is filled with talent,” Walker says, “but is starving for greatness.” He would like to see more artisans pursue the music within them, boldly, fearlessly, relentlessly. There is a need for artists to do great works, he says. He talks passionately about the importance of art in the life of man. He believes art can slip past the distractions and beneath the defenses of a person and speak straight to the heart with a transforming message of hope and love.
William Russell Walker carefully crafts each painting to the highest archival standards, adapting techniques and preparations studied from the old masters to produce museum-quality art. After the painting has cured for several months, it is ready for its final protective coat of varnish. Due to the size and care with which each painting is completed, the artist is able to complete fewer than a dozen paintings in a year.
Walker paints both biblical and contemporary introspectives. “Biblical artists have done a wonderful job of illustrating the Bible. My focus is to paint the subject matter from a different perspective in the hope the view will be illuminating. For example, many artists have painted “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” The focus has always been on Daniel. You’ll have to look hard to find Daniel in my painting because I wanted the focus to be on what God was doing, not what Daniel was doing. The same might be said of the crucifixion. It’s been painted many times by many artists. But I plan to paint it from the perspective of the Centurion…at the moment when he realizes he has just killed the son of God. By painting from a unique perspective, I hope to place the viewer there…on the ground, living it anew.”
William Russell Walker’s works are in private, public and corporate collections. He has exhibited in one-man shows and galleries, major juried shows, museums, and hotels, a forum particularly well suited due to the size and scale of his work. “It’s my desire to have my works shown where the people who need them most can see them. I don’t paint ‘pretty pictures’. I paint for people. I want to make art available to the average person so it can speak to their lives, encourage them and bring them hope. Museums, hospitals, universities, chapels, airports and train stations – anyplace that people congregate, that’s where I want my work to be.”
William Russell Walker works by commission only and is currently under commitment. Prints of select pieces, suitable for home or office, are available for purchase. Inquiries are welcome. It should be noted that this artist is a narrative figurative artist, rather than a portraitist. That means a painting by William Russell Walker is more than a portrait - it is an intuitive story.
Walker may be reached at his north Georgia studio (706-380-4817) or through his website address: www.williamrussellwalker.com .
1Frederick C. Ross, The Art Renewal Center, 2001
Copyright 2006-2017 Linda L. Walker. All rights reserved. Artwork: Copyright 1993-2017 William Russell Walker. All rights reserved worldwide. All images used by permission of the artist.
Website questions should be addressed to Linda Walker.