The Cambrian

Walker: Still on a roll

As featured artist at the Cayucos Art Gallery, Jan Walker is showing ‘Sunset in Aruba,’ a scene she captured from the deck of a cruise ship near the Panama Canal.
As featured artist at the Cayucos Art Gallery, Jan Walker is showing ‘Sunset in Aruba,’ a scene she captured from the deck of a cruise ship near the Panama Canal. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

A recovering Type A personality, Jan Walker has two activities that calm her down — yoga and painting.

“I love the mind-body connection” and sense of peace that comes from both, she said.

The Cambria artist acknowledges she has slowed down in the last few decades since her 30s, when she was involved in aerobics. Walker also had breast cancer 20 years ago, and has since concentrated in getting more balance in her life.

To celebrate her recovery anniversary, she’s putting energy into showing her artwork. Currently, Walker is sharing the spotlight with Sandi Heller and Richard Mortensen at the Morro Bay Art Center and is featured artist at the Cayucos Art Association’s gallery.

Known for her florals, Walker laughs about her black thumb.

“I am the world’s worst flower grower,” she acknowledged. After failed attempts at her home in the pine forest, she gave up. “The deer eat everything.”

Fortunately, her neighbors are more successful with their gardening endeavors and give her flowers, or she takes photos of their poppies and tulips as models for her paintings.

In her dual exhibits, Walker is also showing rural scenes, seascapes and still lifes, as well as cats, deer and wild horses.

“I paint when I feel like painting,” she said, adding that she sometimes gets obsessed with a particular subject.

“I kind of get passionate about a certain thing, then I drop it and go back to flowers,” Walker said.

The horses were a case in point.

After making arrangements with a ranger, Walker and her husband, photographer Ron Bianchetto, spent a full day observing two herds of wild horses at Carrizo Plain. The couple went armed with long lenses and caught the horses when they showed up for their late-afternoon alfalfa flakes.

“It was wonderful,” said Walker, who grew up on a small farm in the Midwest.

Although she hasn’t been on vacation for three years, Walker is exhibiting a painting she did on a cruise ship that traveled from St. Thomas to the Panama Canal. The friend who accompanied her took hours to get ready in the morning and didn’t want Walker to have breakfast without her. That gave Walker plenty of time to do morning sketches.

The signature member of the Central Coast Watercolor Society has had work accepted in the juried shows Aquarius and Color of Autumn. She’s also taken work-

shops with such nationally known artists as Robert Reynolds and Tom Fong of Alhambra, a former Aquarius judge. “I learned the most from him,” Walker said. “He taught me how to use the big brush.”

When immersed in her paintings, Walker said she can complete a large work in one sitting.

“I paint really fast,” she said, using the method called direct painting, where she doesn’t apply an undercoat. Transparent watercolor is her preferred media, allowing her to paint wet on wet.

“You can’t control the paint; that’s what I love about it,” Walker said. “You get these little happy accidents.”