James Walker Studios

17

Have a beautiful weekend! 🙂

Thank You Skateboarding

About thirty years ago I opened the greatest Christmas gift of my life, a set of blueprints for building skateboard ramps.  As a ten year old you wouldn’t think that receiving a stack of papers stapled together would be something to get excited about, but there was no internet, you couldn’t download this stuff, you had to physically purchase it, so this gift was huge. Growing up on the East Coast there were very few skate parks, if I could find someone with a steep driveway that I could pretend was a bank, that was amazing.  I mostly just skated flatground, doing street plants and jumping off curbs trying to imitate my heroes like Mark Gonzales, Tommy Guerrero, and Mike Vallely.

A few days after receiving this epic gift my father and I proceeded to gather supplies and construct my first ramp. This was the late 80’s and according to our diagrams apparently everything still needed to have vert, even a five-foot quarter pipe.  My father, being an expert engineer, followed the blueprints with exactness and precision and our 5-foot-tall ramp ended up with about 6 inches of vert on what was probably a 6-foot radius transition.  It was gnarly. Upon completion, we both realized that this construction was not the most practically skateable obstacle for a ten-year-old beginning skateboarder and we cut the ramp down to about 4.5 feet. The transition was still super fun and challenging. This was the ramp that I learned a lot of my first maneuvers on, front side slashers and rock and rolls to name a few.  But more importantly it was the moment that I realized that my parents supported my love of skateboarding during a time when this particular art-form was somewhat marginalized, misunderstood, and definitely not mainstream, especially on the East Coast. I loved this ramp, with it’s crazy transition and PVC coping and I skated it every day until we moved, which we did a lot back then, and sadly I couldn’t find a way to take it with me.  So many glorious suburban driveway sessions were had on this well-loved ramp at a time when all that mattered was having fun.

Thank you skateboarding, I love you.

Inspiration

For this new piece I revisited a favorite image. A few years ago I photographed this beautiful asian elephant and ever since I have been inspired to create various paintings based on our meeting. Here is the latest in the series, created using acrylics, aerosol, and colored pencils.

A New Way of Looking at Things

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.-Henry Miller

I’ve been photographing a lot more landscapes than usual lately, probably due to the fact that Anna and I have been witness to some incredibly beautiful country here in the Southwest.  It’s a great feeling to be humbled by the enormity of nature. Here is a photo of the moon setting over Mt. Princeton.

Southwestern Landscape

Here’s a snapshot from our recent voyage. I often use a somewhat non traditional approach to landscape photos, this photo was shot at f2.8 1/5000 ISO 400 using my favorite 35mm 1.4 lens. I employed minimal post production, just a little burning and dodging, pretty much the same thing I would have done in a traditional darkroom. The clouds really were this epic, I can’t even count the times that Anna and I both said “wow that’s so beautiful” while staring out at all the vast and spectacular landscapes that rolled past us 🙂

Colorado Ghost Towns Part I

Last weekend my amazing wife took us on a surprise road-trip-photo-safari to celebrate my birthday. We headed down to check out a super cool ghost town that I had been wanting to visit for quite a while. I’m so thankful for this woman and all the crazy awesome adventures. I’ll post more photos of the town soon. 🙂

Art and Life

There is a very distinct difference between an “artist” and someone who “likes to make art”.  An artist has no choice, they have to create and have an outlet for their creativity. Someone who “likes to make art”, as a hobby, as a pastime, could give up the process at any moment and be okay with it. (And there is nothing wrong with that, there are some amazing and talented people out there who like to make art.)  But an “artist” has a higher calling and a very intense sense of duty to express themselves creatively and to inspire others. This is a responsibility that they don’t take lightly. Here is a portrait of an artist.  Whether it’s her skateboarding style or the newest artwork Anna has been creating you can get a very intense feeling of someone who is genuinely making the best work that they possibly can and creating something truly unique and inspiring!

Figure in Motion

Here are a couple of quick figure/motion study sketches from this morning. I’ve found that starting the day off with a few minutes of drawing makes the rest of the day much more productive. I kept the materials simple on these, just some ink and graphite 🙂

New Bison Painting

We have some bison living near us but they are super elusive and I haven’t been able to photograph them yet so I made this painting from an old reference photo. The Bison is a symbol of sacred life and abundance. They are an indomitable spirit with an unshakable will to survive and face any challenge with the fortitude to overcome. This piece was created using acrylics, aerosol, colored pencils and watercolors. Thanks for looking 🙂

The Importance of Persistence

Skateboarding exclamates and elevates many life lessons. One of my favorites is Persistence.  If you’ve ever watched a skateboarder going for a trick and witnessed all the times they get close to landing it, walking the fine line between success and serious bodily harm, then you must appreciate their persistence in the face of absolute peril. Try, fall, get back up, repeat. This is a huge part of the essence of skating.

The important thing to remember is that you never know how close you are to accomplishing your goal, it could be the very next try.  If you really want to succeed you must keep pushing yourself because there would be nothing worse than trying something 150 times and then giving up and walking away not knowing that attempt number 151 would have been the winner.

Persistence my friends, if you are physically capable of getting back up, then you have the ability to keep trying.

Here’s a snapshot of Brian from a few weeks ago, he put in some work to get this backside air over the spine at Castle Rock.  I admit I cringed a little bit every time he nearly clipped his back wheels on the copping and bailed on the landing. But like most everyone I’ve ever skated with he kept getting up and going for it and was rewarded with a clean landing a fraction of a second after I snapped this photo.