Painter and interstellar aficionado Rachel Walter was raised underneath the vast Texas sky and has never stopped gazing up in awe at the beauty of the night's stars. As a new addition to our Schoolhouse Art Studio, Walter's series of paintings are an ode to the unknown as represented by the ever-changing night sky. Her work is informed by a deep fascination with nature. By distilling the vastness of space on to a two-dimensional surface, she aims to awaken the human spirit and celebrate our small part in the extraordinary design of the cosmos. Read our interview with the artist below to learn more about her creative process and influences.
How would you describe your work and yourself as an artist?
"My work is an outpouring of fascination with the power and complexity of nature, especially as it connects to human emotion. As somewhat of a space nerd, I love learning about how the universe works, and contemplating the role we humans play within it. I try to capture imagery that celebrates that innate tendency we have to look up and simply marvel at the heavens. Carl Sagan famously said that 'We are a way for the cosmos to know itself' - a statement that most strongly resonates with me while creating artwork."
What does your creative process look like from start to finish?
"It begins with clearing my mind of stress and clutter that tends to build up over time. If there’s anything blocking my metaphorical path to the studio, like unanswered emails, a dirty floor that needs sweeping, miscellaneous errands, or an anxious mental state, I have to get it out of the way first. Once I can concentrate, I like to draw inspiration from imagery, journals, and books about my favorite subject matter: cosmology. My work ethic is somewhat aggressive once inspiration takes hold, so it’s hard to slow down or walk away from a painting, even if I need to. That’s why I arrange my schedule to make time in the studio as creative and focused as possible, but I also embrace the ability to do things differently than most 9-to-5’s to maintain equilibrium."
What do you hope to communicate, or have people experience, with your art and this series in particular?
"I like to think that my artistic message conveys a sense of wonderment and curiosity about life and nature. It seems healthy to prompt ourselves from time to time to think about how small we are and how vast and beautiful the universe is, and to be grateful for the ability to pursue an understanding of it. This series in particular emulates the act of stargazing, to capture that awesome feeling in a tangible way."
Are there any rituals or routines you follow while creating?
"I wear the same paint-spattered jeans and button-down smock every day. I call it my uniform."
Where do you go when you’re craving inspiration?
"Traveling is my favorite way to gather inspiration, but when I can’t venture off to some unfamiliar, faraway location, I love going out to my family’s ranch in Spicewood, Texas. The landscape there is dynamic and full of memories, and it is remote enough to display starry night skies and vivid sunrises."
Who are your artistic or design influences/heroes?
"The first names that come to mind are Jan Heaton, Anne Raymond, and Jared Dunten, three artists whose wisdom, warmth, and skill with a paintbrush have distinctly illuminated my career. I have always been especially inspired by artists and designers with a strong vocation, sense of humor, and readiness to press on in times of hardship."
What role does art and design play in your own home? Tell us about your decor style.
"My husband and I have moved around town a lot in recent years, so I like to think that as a result, we’re minimalists when it comes to design, but my sentimental side tends to hold onto anything with a meaningful story. That includes our wooden dining table and bench set (handmade by my dad), shelves of books about astronomy that my grandfather bequeathed to me, a rickety rattan chair that we’re scared to sit in, spiky plants that remind me of the ranch, a used upright piano for in-house concerts, and framed drawings from random people and places hung all over simple white walls. I love anything neutral, natural, and made with love."
| Shop Rachel's original work in Schoolhouse Art Studio |