“The fact that I can create a world from my head, where people would actually want to go, makes me feel I’ve achieved something indeed.”
To hear Kurt tell it, he's drawn ever since he was old enough to hold a fork. As a child, an early Raphael painting, The Three Graces, particularly appealed to the precocious artist. In fact, he claims to have rendered it over 40 times — a claim he states with his signature mix of hyperbole and humility. “I would give copies to my elementary school teachers and then be mystified when they didn’t enthusiastically hang the corpulent nudes up for all my peers to see, as my mother had done at home!” bellows Kurt. His eyes quickly pass from window to canvas, calculating the time of the sunset while never forgetting to throw an encouraging smile every time I lob him a question.
Kurt Walters received his formal training at the California College of Arts in Oakland, now called CCA and since relocated to San Francisco. His interests at the time did not exactly fit in with the then popular style of dark aggressive pieces with strong political messages. “I realized my passion for a classical style of painting would be more appreciated by a select crowd. I’m striving to create work which I find beautiful, based on styles I love taken from various eras in art’s history, adding some fantasy and a bit of whimsy. My work is rooted in the techniques of Flemish masters, as well as techniques borrowed from Ingres, Frederic Lord Leighton, and Maxfield Parrish. ‘Tongue in Cheek’ classicism is what I like to call it.” With representation in Provincetown, Massachusetts and Munich, Germany (some of the most competitive global art markets) it's hard to disagree with Kurt's self-assessment.
“As I started getting commissions through private contacts, or through friends of friends, and as my style developed, the paintings themselves generated a demand. The early paintings from this period are portraits of specific individuals, executed in a simple, formal manner. My style has evolved to include a broader interpretation of the subject matter.” An early commission from one of Kurt's Washington, D.C. clients includes a series of cities where the client previously lived: London, Los Angeles and Munich. Although these paintings do not represent specific individuals, they overflow with people who ineffably represent their particular city. Indeed, it's this theme that is the one constant amongst his varied body of work.
“Recently I heard my favorite compliment while sitting in a restaurant where a piece of mine was hanging. An enthusiastic diner said, “I want to be there!” while gesturing to the Lobster Bisque painting, a comment I’ve heard about other works of mine. The fact that I can create a world from my head, where people would actually want to go, makes me feel I’ve achieved something indeed.” The sun is about the set. As Kurt sets down his brush, there's a subtle sadness that accompanies the absence of natural light. Walters leans back in his chair, his hand still swirling as if he's trying to conjure up more worlds.