Walker Reed is being honest, he hasn’t painted in a while. “A few months, probably,” he admits. For the oil-based painter and senior designer at EP+Co, this hiatus isn’t a cause for concern. Walker’s relationship to art—and to creativity—is a fluid thing, one that he’s found a way to channel into any season of life. From his day job to parenthood, Walker makes creativity work for him, and in the midst of it all, creates the nature-inspired still-lifes that have come to define his work as an artist.
The great leaves of a monstera plant ebb and fold over one another, catching light to reflect their newest yellow-green, or deferring to shadow, exposing a deep and moody emerald. The space between is a dappled breath of air in shades of white—it’s Walker’s painting Monstera 01.
As a self-proclaimed “plant person,” the connection to nature runs deep in his veins. “I come from a long line of people who’ve had a close relationship to the ground. My grandfather was a farmer—had cows, bailed hay. My dad was a school administrator but had a greenhouse business on the side. He maintains all my grandfather’s land now.” It took Walker a while to realize that, though he chose a career in graphic design, he owns that same desire to be connected to something tactile. He shares it with his children, too. “[My daughter] Weezy has that same wonder. We’ll go for a walk and she’ll say ‘Look at this leaf! This is my favorite leaf!’” Walker knows from example and experience that creativity can take many forms—from bailing hay to standing in awe of a leaf. To him, being an artist means finding an order to the chaos, of finding beauty in the ordinary.
As part of his graphic design degree from Anderson University, Walker took painting classes but had a hard time latching onto his identity as an artist. His small-town upbringing didn’t emphasize an importance on the arts. Walker wanted to do meaningful things with his days. “I had this idea like, ‘Y’all can go paint, but I’m gonna go do something important with my life,’” he says. After college, Walker moved to India to do outreach work. While there, he woke up to a foundational truth about himself: “I realized that no matter what important thing I was trying to do, I still approach it from a creative place.”
In Walker’s series of fruits and vegetables, each painting presents a single object—a tomato, maybe, or a lime. Each is placed as a focal point, richly hued everyday produce in a spartan field of vibrant color. Like Walker’s approach to life and art, each painting dares the viewer to look at that everyday thing and see it for its intrinsic, no-nonsense beauty.
For more on information, visit walkerreed.com. Portrait by Eli Warren.