By Amelia Blades Steward
National award-winning artist Stephen Walker of Easton has worked in five different mediums over his lifelong career. In his early days, Stephen was successful in 3-D design but found that printmaking, specifically serigraphy, was his niche. Fast forward to today, he is an oil painter who is influenced by the works of such masters as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and contemporary painter, Patrick Lee. National artist Nancy Tankersley has personally inspired Stephen how to capture the landscape and people he has observed since moving to the Eastern Shore five years ago. Two of his oil paintings depicting local life have been selected for the new exhibition at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Changing Chesapeake, which will be on display for the next year.
“I love oil painting even though I feel it is still new to me. I have always been good at drawing, so now I draw with paint and color. Oils and sometimes pastels are what I use to create my fishing, boating, hunting, and crabbing scenes. There are waterfowl and shorelines everywhere you look. Every sunset and sailboat could be a painting,” Stephen comments.
Selected for the new Changing Chesapeake exhibition is “Bay Life,” a Black waterman’s simple portrait. According to Stephen, his expression represents a person who has toiled his whole life on the Bay. He explains that the whites of his eyes are a very pale sky blue, pointing out he is part of the Bay. His painting “It’s Close Out There” is a phrase he has heard locally when the humidity is heavy, and the sky is almost white. The waterman in this painting is peering into the Bay looking at his crab pots surveying the day’s work.
“I buy old books about the Bay from Foxwell’s Antiques in Easton, and I take pictures everywhere I go around the Shore. I am also passionate about fishing. All of those images are in my head, and I use them to create the scenes I paint,” Stephen recalls.
He has exhibited his oil paintings, pastels, serigraphs, charcoal drawings, and human figure bronze sculptures for over 37 years. With a bachelor’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University (1977), and a master’s degree in sculpture and drawing from the University of Memphis (1995), this classically trained artist has been a career educator in Montgomery County in art and photography at both high school and college levels.
Throughout Stephen’s career, he has had a variety of notable works in the public eye such as “Pollock-tician” a “Party Animal” for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and “Henny Penny,” a “Beach Bird” for the Ocean City Art League. He was the fabricator of Gail Rothschild’s “Muted Belles,” a permanent sculpture installation in front of the University of Memphis Art Museum where he was the gallery registrar. His Warhol-style “Four Wheel Drive,” a 16-foot-wide serigraph installation, was showcased at the Memphis Convention Center. While working as an artisan, Stephen built movie sets for “Great Balls of Fire,” “The People vs. Larry Flint,” and “The Client.” In 2022, his work was chosen to represent Talbot County in a Maryland State Arts Council virtual show. Most recently, he built the set for the Tred Avon Players’ “Moon Over Buffalo” at the Oxford Community Center April performances and is also creating a new picket fence design to benefit For All Seasons for the Oxford Picket Fence Auction, sponsored by the Oxford Business Association. Stephen will be the featured artist for the 2023 Friends of Hospice Festival of Trees in November at the Tidewater Inn Gold Ballroom creating the imagery for all their promotions.
Stephen is an active member of the Working Artists Forum, St. Michaels Art League, Ocean City Art League, and the American Society of Marine Artists. He also offers sculpture workshops at the Academy Art Museum in Easton.
Stephen has recently joined the Artists’ Gallery in Chestertown. “I moved to the Eastern Shore with the intent to pursue oil painting, which is a relatively new medium for me. I enjoy searching for imagery and challenging myself to interpret the people and places that are all around me. I am flattered to be invited to join the Artists’ Gallery and thrilled that I can hang my art alongside these exceptional local artists.”
“I am really enjoying having the chance to finally be the artist, not the art teacher, and finding success at the same time. Truly living my dream,” Stephen reflects.
To see Stephen’s work, visit www.squarehousestudio.com or call him at 240-388-3807.