12: Sean Walker

Pacific Northwest Inspired Paintings Location: 3355 Pine Flat Road

Sean Walker - Halibut

Sean Walker

Inspired by the lush and rugged Pacific coastline of North America, I have been designing and carving wooden artwork since 1980. I draw much of my inspiration from the coastal environment, specifically Pacific Northwest native styles demonstrated by the Tlingit, Tshimshian, Hoonah, and Haida tribes, as well as native artwork from Hawaii, New Zealand, and greater Polynesia. Being a coastal forest dweller myself, I have always been captivated by design styles that evolve from ocean cultures.

I grew up near the beach in Southern California, and ocean related activities were prevalent. I discovered kayaking in 1996, and the ability to cover miles of open water with speed and stealth brought me that much closer to the artists who paddled dugout canoes and longboats for hunting and gathering.

Sean Walker - NorCal Halibut

My artwork has multiple influences as mentioned, but there were a few revelations in particular that set me on my current artistic path. When I took interest in the formline painting styles of the coastal tribes of the Pacific Northwest I came across several images of the Raven Screens, two large pieces from the Hoonah tribe of Southeastern Alaska. At an imposing 14 feet, built of massive cedar planks and covered with incredibly detailed artwork, the image of the screens has stayed with me all these years later. There are clear nods to these humbling pieces in just about everything I produce.

A second current of inspiration came from a trip to the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai. The artwork of shell inlay, carved wood, and repeated shark tooth and spiral fern patterns evokes so much of the great seafaring people of Polynesia that it seemed natural, given time, that they would have found their way to the California mainland. Consequently many of my pieces include patterns inspired by Polynesian tattoo designs.

In the winter of 2000 I came to the Santa Cruz Mountains and established a workspace at my Bonny Doon home. With such an interesting mix of mountain forest and beach lifestyle within 20 minutes it seemed only natural that my artwork ought to blend both. Using mostly wood panels I strive to combine dynamic elements with bold carving, painting, and wood burning to create designs featuring many of the creatures who share our coastal existence. The pieces end up being a rustic form of artwork while retaining a degree of
complexity. I think of them as the totems that might be found in a wonderfully exotic and intriguing cabin perched at the edge of the sea, somewhere on the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Northwest Wood Carving

So in this economic climate, how does one maintain artistic motivation in the face of financial uncertainty? In my case it has been due to working a day job and creating artwork in every spare moment I can squeeze in. Salvaging materials and wringing as much out of the tools as possible. Basically hustling all the time just to make it all work! It can be a struggle, but when someone stops to snap a photo of a piece displayed in my yard, or a local Dooner mentions how much they enjoy seeing a piece on their Pine Flat commute each day it makes it all worthwhile. Come out and see for yourself on the last weekend in July, 2012.

Commission work available
Email pisceanartworks@hotmail.com