Jamie P Walker - Artist
I’m Jamie (Pavlich) Walker, an artist residing in Santa Rosa, CA. My studio is located at my home in my garage. I like this set-up and location as it provides me ample natural light and it permits me to take a break when I need to, or jump in at any time.
The world of art as my journey began at childhood. I loved painting and drawing and carried this passion through high school. In college, I took art classes but ultimately changed paths and started a career in ophthalmology. I felt having a conventional job would be more secure. Do I have regrets not getting a degree in Art? “Yes”. But, at the same time, I think it’s what pushed me to actually become an artist.
After years of working as an ophthalmic technician, I finally just quit. I realized that in this one life I have, it should be spent doing what I love. Re-entering the art world happened slowly by taking various courses and workshops while raising two children.
As they got older, more attention to art was possible, and it’s been a fulltime job for about 15 years. The word “art” is such a broad term that I had no idea it would take years to discover the medium that was right for me. Beginning with watercolor, then moving into acrylic spurred my passion to learn more.
Yearly attendance at a workshop with my art mentor, Robert Burridge in San Luis Obispo, has been and continues to be a driving force in my development. One year, Bob introduced me to collage and it provided me with an entirely new perspective. He used the medium in a different manner. He would glue down paper, then paint over it to give his painting a textural look. I quite liked that so upon returning home I started researching collage. I came across an artist in Florida by the name of Derek Gores and immediately fell in love with his process. He used the paper as his paint, in place of paint, to create these super cool and unique collages. I decided to “give it a go” and do a collage in this manner. That was the beginning of my collage career and have been steadily working with this medium for about 10 years. I love that the art seems representational at distance but is abstract when viewed closely. Incorporating text into the piece has given me greater boundaries in which to work. Text as art brought me back to my childhood. I loved cool texts and would doodle and play around trying to copy them. Also, using words helps in telling the story of that particular artwork. Keep in mind, even though paper is replacing paint, I’m still thinking about the general principles of art that were taught to me long ago….line, size, shape, color, value, and texture
A typical day starts with a gym workout. I will then focus on art related paperwork (the dreaded business end of art) or maybe some framing of prints. By noon I am ready to create and have fun. I can only work at collage for about 3-4 hours before my creativity begins to wax and wane. At the end of the day, I often research other artists who inspire me, either those back in the day or current artists. Favorites include Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, Vincent van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean- Michel Basquiat…quite a variety for sure but it’s so interesting to read about how they handled being artists, how they dealt with their successes, failures, and processes, and what the art world brought to them.
Lately, I’ve had a few exciting opportunities. I’m showing my work in a gallery in San Francisco, and I’ve met with a gallery in Sacramento for a possible show next year. This is new for me as I’ve never been associated with an art gallery before. I do many art festivals up and down the west coast, and that has been my main source of exposure. It is enjoyable as it gives the opportunity to chat with people about my art. It’s education simply by the questions and interest they have.
FJ: What does your work aim to say?
Jamie: That’s a really good question and sometimes I’m not sure until I begin the collage. Then, I believe the actual process teaches me as I go along by finding the right papers. It’s about discovery. A quote from Picasso seems appropriate here: “The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
FJ: Who are your biggest influences?
Jamie: Besides my incredibly talented parents, I would have to say #1 on the list is my mentor in San Luis Obispo, Robert Burridge. Not only did he teach me to “think outside the box”, but he also introduced many different mediums and styles and that eventually led me to torn paper collage. He put less emphasis on technique and oodles more emphasis on passion. I could go on and on. Derek Gores is another big influence. Google him. He’s amazing, and when I first laid eyes on his work, I knew that I wanted to “paint” in this manner.
FJ: How is your personality reflected in your work?
Jamie: Well, I’m OCD for sure, and I think it’s obvious in my work! Viewers come by at art festivals (I was at the Beverly Hills Art SHOW this month) and say, “You must be so patient!” For me, it’s not patience at all. It’s enjoyable. Also, I’ve always enjoyed hunting for things, like sea glass at the beach or four-leaf clovers, and this goes way back to my youth. I loved finding the hidden pictures in Highlights Kid’s Magazine. I enjoy the process of searching for just the right papers or text to make a strong piece.
FJ: What materials do you use?
Jamie: I use a plethora of magazines(!), Liquitex gloss medium, acrylic paint, and varnish. I often use scissors but prefer the torn edges to give the collage more interest.
FJ: Where do your ideas come?
Jamie: Well, first they just come from subjects I love like urban scenes and themes that include alcohol (!) to name a couple. Surely, living in wine country is an influence. But, many ideas “pop up” flipping through magazines, especially fashion magazines. The artwork in them creates new ideas and has totally made my “glam girl” series a success. Keeping a box of torn out and inspiring magazine pages is very helpful.
FJ: How do you know when a piece is done?
Jamie: I’m going to steal this from my Mentor, Robert Burridge. “If you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this piece done?”, the answer is always “yes”!
FJ: What’s next for you?
Jamie: What are you working on now? I’m trying to think larger and maybe a little more abstract. I’m also considering using an oil paint stick over the collage pieces to add some interest (Thank you, Daniel Maltzman). I’m presently working on a 5’ x 4’ urban scene.
FJ: How can our readers discover more about you and your art?
FJ: Any last thoughts for our Fat Jack Readers?
Jamie: Yes. I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue my career as an artist in large part from the support and encouragement of my husband, Howie. He understands that this is my job and not just some little hobby or scrapbooking project! I also hope that reading this will spur others to pursue their passion and consider changing courses if they aren’t being fulfilled in their work. It has made a huge difference in my life in terms of contentment and confidence. Do what you love doing.
This interview was posted with permission from Fat Jack’s Coffee.