Helena and Central Montana | Montana's News Leader®

Montana Made: Western Art Week

Montana is home to Western Art Week, a yearly celebration to remember artist Charlie Russell, and to honor western artists from all across the country.

One of those artists is Jeff Walker, who grew up in Great Falls, so painting north-central Montana landscapes and wildlife comes naturally.

Walker noted, "This flat-land prairie country is my first love."

Walker got his start drawing birds, his love of which was passed on from his dad. He says in his early work, much of his watercolors and etchings reflected that passion. 

Walker says it helped him transition to other subjects: "Birds were a big part of my subject matter. I was also doing landscapes and water color, but a lot of times the landscape and birds were dual subjects. I was painting birds in their habitat."

Walker now paints with oils and creates etchings..a type of art where a scene is etched into a metal plate and layered with ink, and the image is then pressed onto paper.

Walker says art allows him to spend time outdoors, which is one of his favorite pastimes. He says his ideal process is to paint a sketch on location, and then finish it at his studio outside Fort Shaw.

He explained, "Being on location and experiencing the light and the bugs and everything else that’s going on out there, I think in the end, taking that small sketch and putting it next to the easel in the studio and doing a larger canvas of this sketch…the inspiration is still there from what I saw out there and you hope that that translates into the larger canvas."

But Walker remains his own biggest critic and says sometimes paintings just don’t work out: "I have yet to do the perfect painting. I can always find something in the painting that needs to be changed or i just couldn’t solve that problem"

He views his work ethic as a sign of growth: "As much as i struggle with my painting, that’s not a bad thing. I think that shows the carrots always out there, I’m just trying to get better."

Click here to see a complete list of Western Art Week events.

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