Creative Spirit: Tony Walker
Interview by Carrie from ArtistStrong.com
Tony Walker’s artwork is focused on landscape and figurative painting drawn from worldwide locations and remote, coastal and urban Australia.
His free and expressive style in watercolour, acrylic inks on paper and canvas and other media, is interpretive and reaches to the heart and spirit of the subject.
He is represented in galleries in Australia and overseas. He has received many awards, most recently winning the prestigious Watercolour Society of Queensland 2015 and an award in Royal Queensland Art Society’s watercolour exhibition 2015.
He has solo exhibitions most years. The most recent was in late 2015 at Al Madina Gallery in Muscat, Oman, which represents his work. This followed a painting tour in France and Oman. In Brisbane he also exhibits at Aspire Gallery, RQAS Gallery and art groups.
Q: Welcome Tony to Artist Strong. Tell me: when did you first realize your interest in art?
I’ve always drawn and painted back into childhood, and particularly in later school years with trips to the remote and majestic Carnarvon Ranges in Central Queensland.
Q: How would you describe your artwork to my readers?
I am a painter of the ‘spirit of things’ whether the subject is landscape or figurative. So while my work is generally representational and perhaps impressionistic, it is never a copying of the subject. My aim is to express my interpretation, my feeling for the subject and through that expression to create something of interest and appeal, but importantly, to show its true character.
Q: When you paint en plein air, what tools do you find most useful?
I have a well designed backpack that I can take anywhere easily – through forests and up mountains, etc. It contains all I need for watercolour and/or acrylic ink work on paper or canvas – a light telescopic easel, board, paper or canvas, palettes, water container, knife, brushes, pens, towel and so on.
Q: How do you decide on a location for your en plein air work?
That depends a lot on the general location and the mood I am in. There are constraints like being in shade from sun or shelter from rain or wind. Then there is whether to look for close proximity or unusual angles that reveal aspects of the subject or whether a more distant panorama. How much time is available is also a factor. Lately I have become quite interested in the sketch as a final work rather than a prelude to a ‘serious’ painting, and in sketching the kind of location can be quite different from where you might choose for a full watercolour.
Q: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
I probably rebel against following a particular step-by-step approach. First impressions of a subject are important and I initially look for a facet or aspect of the subject that moves me and seek to retain and depict that. So the order in which I sketch and paint things in the picture frame might follow that rather than some logical graphic construction.
Q: When do you decide an artwork is finished?
That is the eternal challenge particularly with watercolour and sketching. It is often ‘finished’ 5 minutes before you stop! I guess the answer is to stop when you feel the work has achieved all that you expect from it and strongly resist going any further.
Q: What obstacle do you see new art students regularly face in your workshops?
Students in my workshops vary from accomplished artists to raw beginners with varied talents. We can all learn from others, and the biggest obstacle for master or beginner is to be unable or unwilling to cast away habits and preconceptions and try something that is new to them.
Q: What has teaching art taught you about your own art?
Teaching inevitably forces me to reconnect with basic skills that have become subconscious.
More profound is the understanding of your own art that you gain by watching how another person approaches some task or skill that you have put to them.
Q: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
There are many – landscape, people, sound, music, books – everything – I can’t imagine living without any of it.
Q: Who/what inspires you?
I’m ceaselessly inspired by landscapes and people as subjects. Then there are many artists, recent and past whose work is an inspiration. The other day I saw an exhibition by William Dobell, a past great in Australian art, and was blown away by his excellence in not just the iconic paintings that I’d seen before, but in the marvelous economy and expression of his New Guinea sketches. Then I also look at the talent that can be seen online with today’s artists all over the world.
Q: How do you define Creativity?
I can say what it is not. It’s not copying.
You can read the inteview on ArtistStrong.com here