Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Walt Bartman, Painter and Teacher, Tells His Story

I identify myself as an artist / teacher. A path I chose forty years ago. It has been a long and fulfilling journey. I grew up “out of the furnace” in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. A steel town in its heyday near Pittsburgh. I can vividly remember the images of the mills at night. I can remember the energy of the rich colors from the steel furnaces reflected in the skies. It was captivating seeing flames reaching toward the heavens. Imagery that I have carried with me to this day. The mills inspired me to love color and follow a path in the visual arts.  My very first painting was of a group of muscular steel workers in their yellow helmets.

The Prophet, Oil,  24” x 28”

My journey has come a long way from those days in North Braddock. The reason I chose teaching as a career is because I had great inspiring teachers. Teaching is where I could think philosophically and futuristically. I could bring ideas that inspired me in to the classroom to share with my students. Fortunately, I did not have to follow any set curriculum. 

Philosophically, my motto has been “I wouldn’t give my students any problem I would not do myself.”  I looked to inspire my students. There was a period where I would bring Kurt Schwitters, my pet rooster into the classroom to model. The students loved it. You can see their drawings on Kurt’s Facebook page, “Kurt Schwitters, Walt Whitman H.S. Alum and well-known model.” 

Last Light - Port Clyde, Oil, 18” x 24"   

The validation for my ideas came when I was featured on Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning. The segment was titled “Teaching Them to See.”
Twenty-two years ago, I founded the Yellow Barn Studio at Glen Echo Park. It was one of the big goals in my life. The Yellow Barn Studio today is full of inspiration and enthusiasm and is one of the three largest painting programs in the Washington D.C. / Baltimore area. 
What inspires me? I really enjoy composing an idea that is changing and has no preconceived idea. Finding the essence - building an idea and refining it. I only use a photo as a resource. Working from it is working from the past, and I have chosen to work in the present. I’m immersed in the moment and am gifted epiphanies from nature.

Trumpet Cloud, Oil, 16” x 20"   

I remember once being caught out in the open as a storm came barreling across the valley. I realized I had taken my life in my hands. I remembered a Turner quote, “Tie yourself to a mast.” I completed the painting as lightning bolts rained down around me, the winds howled, and the sky turned green. Like a sailor, I had confidence to face nature. 

Plastic Bottle, Oil, 24” x 28"

Since I work mostly outdoors, nature has given me a multitude of challenges. It is constantly changing - the temperature, the wind, the bugs, the heat and cold. I love it! My work records the situations I am in. My paintings are my stepping stones along a long creative path that seams endless. 

My work is represented by Marin-Price Galleries in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Sand Dancers, Oil, 16” x 24”

This is Week 37 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Walt's story today. To see more of his work and connect with him, please visit the following links:

Personal Website: walterbartman.com
Yellow Barn Studio: yellowbarnstudio.com

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