HAHIRA – Valdosta has been Steven Walker’s canvas for four years.
The Hahira artist relocated to South Georgia in 2016. Since, he has been noticeably visible in Valdosta’s art community not only offering his own works but helping others, as well.
Walker, who began drawing at an early age, said art has always been a part of his life.
“I've been serious about it from the very beginning,” he said. “A drawing I made of Tonto and the Lone Ranger was published in my nursery school newsletter. I don't know what single thing got me interested in art; it just seemed to be my outlet.”
The joy people get when viewing Walker’s work is what keeps him pursuing a career in the art industry, he said.
Influences include his wife, Evelyn Davis-Walker, as well as Lindsey Kutstuch, Michael Godfrey, Mark Boedges, Peter Fiore, Rich Bowman and David Dibble.
While oil painting is a preference, Walker uses charcoal, graphite, pastel, pen and ink, watercolor and acrylic. He does digital art in the Photoshop and Illustrator programs.
“When I was an illustrator, I had no real connection because it was just a project I was hired to do,” he said. “Now my fine artwork tells about my observations, journeys and background. The light and contrast in my work is very similar to my life experiences. There are some ups and downs, but it's hard to have one without the other.”
Light – natural or man-made – is Walker’s choice of inspiration. He emphasizes this motivation is not only found on a sunny day but can be discovered when a light shines upon a nightly scene.
Upon finishing a piece of art, the painter said he asks himself one question, “Does it move you?”
“If it doesn't move me or pull me into the scene in one way or another, then it doesn't leave my studio,” he said.
Walker has had several pieces of work featured in exhibits at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and won the 2017 Downtown Valdosta plein air contest where he painted King’s Grill.
He is a previous category winner in Turner’s annual Spring Into Art competition. His protege, Mary VanLandingham, has won best in show at a previous Spring Into Art.
He entered three pieces in the center’s current show, Pines and Palms.
“Pines and Palms is a nonprofit arts collective that is based in Thomasville, Ga.,” said Bill Shenton, Turner Center curator. “The mission of the group is to showcase the talents of its 130-plus members by providing a variety of opportunities to show and sell their work in exhibitions and participate in professional workshops and painting events throughout the year.”
Walker said the inspiration for his submissions vary for Pines and Palms.
“‘A Fall View’ is an older piece that stems from my days of walking our dog, Brodie,” he said. ‘Sully’s (IRE)’ is a night scene that was painted from a recent workshop that I taught in Ireland. Last, ‘First Shift’ is my most recent painting based on a series of blue collar vehicles.”
He said he intended to submit three other paintings but two of them sold right before the delivery date.
Walker is an instructor, chair of the Public Arts Advisory Committee, on Turner’s board of directors for the visual arts committee and a board member for Pines and Palms.
He will also be a guest lecturer for Virtual Passage, an online course for aspiring illustrators.
With his wife, Walker has designed murals for the Turner Center's Art Park. He and his wife outlined images on the fence near the park's pavilion for community members to paint.
He advises aspiring artists to treat their work like a business rather than a hobby.
“Value your time and your talent,” he said. “Lastly, never stop working on your craft because complacency leads to extinction.”
Walker’s work can be viewed at stevenwalkerstudios.com. It is also available on Instagram or Facebook.