Charles Walker (1945 - )
Born: Fort Pierce, Florida
Perhaps more than any other Highwayman, Charles Walker carefully studies the landscape as part of his creative process. Charles is not, nor has he ever been, a fast painter. Rather, he carefully considers every aspect of his paintings, most often incorporating animals into his scenes. Charles Walker was born in Fort Pierce, one of three children, to a strong and resilient couple.
Charles claims that his love for nature is in his blood, passed down from his much loved parents who both lived long lives and were married for 60 years.Charles had a pleasant childhood. He says, “It was good growing up in Lincoln Park. Charles and now wife Gertrude were both students in Zanobia Jefferson’s art class at Lincoln Park Academy. In the early years to earn money Charles worked the fields picking and hauling vegetables. Due to his athleticism, as an adult, Charles got a job working at the Lincoln Park Recreation Center in Fort Pierce as a Youth Supervisor. He taught various sports as well as art. After thirteen years, he left this position to care for his aging parents and to spend time to painting.
Gertrude started painting landscapes before Charles, in the late 1960s. At that time, he was more interested in drawing. Livingston Roberts, Gertrude’s brother and one of the early Highwaymen painters, got Gertrude started. After she and Charles became a couple, they painted together at the Arcade Building in the early mornings. Al Black sold Gertrude’s paintings on the road in the early 1970s, about the time Charles started doing his own painting. However, he didn’t hang out with the other painters, as he had a full time job at the time and he was more of a loner anyway.
Increasingly, Charles found that painting gave him a sense of peace. He has always been studious about his work; it’s the approach he takes with most things. He rarely does anything fast,maintaining, “You need to pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s about taking things seriously.” His focus is on painting well and depicting animals in the landscape.
Bud Adams, the owner of Adam’s Ranch, allows Walker to experience nature on his land whenever he wants. Bean Backus also wandered Adams Ranch for inspiration, and Charles is quick to acknowledge that being outdoors is artistically exciting. He prefers visiting Adams Ranch in the early morning when you can see the Florida midst. This is a special place for Charles, as it reminds him of the landscape of his youth.
Although Gertrude began painting earlier than Charles, he became known as the painter in the family. She became the St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections in 1980 and continues with her demanding career. The couple has four children and several grandchildren.
There is a calm sweetness to Charles Walker’s character. Nature settles him and gives him pleasure. His paintings are like him: tranquil and accepting. This quiet acceptance comes from his parents’ strength, a community that nurtured him, and a deep and abiding love for what nature has to offer. He’s quick to say that he’s been blessed.
Charles Walker taught himself to paint and never stops his educational process. He says his “mind is always open to learning.” He studies the work of other artists to become a better painter, and he recognizes that the natural environment can be a teacher. Like many other nature artists, he’s an observer. As Charles Walker paints, he knows that he needs to attend to his work carefully. Hard work, he understands, has to do with the mind as well as the body.
Charles Walker Biography information: obtained from website thehighwaymentrail.com. This website is a fantastic reference to learn about the 26 Florida Highwaymen artists and their importance to Florida's history.