“In the past, I would have an idea for a painting and hold to that idea through to the finish. I could pretty much see the end result before I started. There were no surprises. But now my understanding of the process is that the idea is just the first impulse. From that first impulse forward, improvisation takes over. The end result is not about that first idea, but is instead a record of all those impulses along the way. Each stroke of paint carries emotion and power.”
Walt grew up in Irvington, New Jersey and, after high school, he enrolled for three years at an art school in Newark. After that, he served for six months in the Army Enlisted Reserves and he worked at advertising agencies for a number of years in New Jersey. After three more years of study at the Frank Reilly School of Art, he moved to the City in 1967 and free-lanced as a men’s fashion illustrator. During the winter of 1971 Walt flew out to New Mexico with his parents to visit his little sister, who was working at the Taos Ski Valley. While checking out the many galleries in Taos and Santa Fe, he was thrilled to see so much representational art on the walls. Walt began to wonder what it would be like to live in northern New Mexico, paint landscapes, and maybe even sell some. That was about the time that fashion illustration was being replaced by photography, so it just seemed like the right time to try something new.
“My best work comes when I’m able to give up control, to trust my impulses. Then the painting takes on a life of it’s own. When I don’t know what is going to happen next, the process becomes full of surprise and wonder.”
Walt has been featured in numerous publications dating back to 1976. In 2007 he held a one man show at the Taos Art Musuem and Fechin House. His paintings are included in notable collections including the Eiteljorg and The Gilcrease Museum.
To view Walt’s work, click here.
Walt Gonske portrait by Gary Kim