Where there’s a Will, there’s a way.
Chemainus resident Will Walker, 72, loves nature and open spaces. He made it a point to create pleasing images based on what he sees around us everyday by becoming a self-taught painter.
“I love the beauty of the world,” Walker said.
He developed a great space at his own home to conduct his work, converting an old workshop into a studio.
Those taking the Polka Dot Trail tour got a chance to witness Walker’s work space and his art.
“In total, I had about 40 people come through,” he pointed out.
Attendance was down slightly for most on the Tour, but Walker enjoyed speaking with the people who made an appearance.
“There was a real mix,” he said of visitors from Parksville, Qualicum, Mill Bay, Cobble Hill and locals.
Walker was born and raised in South Africa, serving in the British merchant navy for many years. That’s when he first looked around and learned to appreciate his surroundings more.
“Every day, the water and the clouds are different,” Walker noted.
Those elements and the mountains form the basis for much of his work.
Walker came to Canada to study for a few years and, as he puts it, “never went home.”
He spent time in Toronto, but got drawn west.
“We found Chemainus to be the ideal place,” Walker conceded.
“We rented a few places in Nanaimo and ended up renting a place in Chemainus for three months and fell in love with it,” he recalled.
It took about a year to find the suitable location and Walker and his wife returned to stay at their present location on Victoria Road.
While he’d dabbled in art in his early married life, Walker never spent much time on it.
“With kids and jobs, we never really did anything (else),” he reasoned.
“Now I have a space, a place, paint and brushes. I just love it. I just enjoy coming out here.”
It’s a big part of Walker’s regular routine now.
“I’m pretty much every day, I’m doing something,” he noted. “I’m not a slave to it. If I’m not doing this, I’m in the garden.”
Walker strives for variety in his art and inspiration comes from different sources.
“I take photographs,” he explained. “I see pictures, calendars, tourism photos that would be nice to paint.
“I’m learning. You need to find out who you are. I’m not into abstract. When I paint, I like to know what I’m painting.”
Walker does some acrylic work, but isn’t a big fan. He concentrates on oil and water colour.
Walker also belongs to the famous Chemainus Sketch Group that helps him develop more intricate paintings.
“That’s quite a vibrant group,” he said. “They’re always active. Once a month, we always have an artist come in to do a demo.”
Some of Walker’s works can also be found at the Rainforest Arts Gallery. He draws more on his background for diversity from nature scenes.
“I like trains,” he indicated. “I grew up in South Africa with the steam trains.
“I paint what I love – space, water, clouds. To me, it’s bringing the beauty of the world for others to see and enjoy.”
Walker and his wife have three grown children, including a son and two granddaughters in Hong Kong, another son and two granddaughters in Edmonton and a daughter in New Zealand.
The son in Hong Kong happens to work for Cathay Pacific so that comes in handy to make sure he books some trips to complement the time in the studio and the garden.