Many will see a vase of calla lilies and tulips when they gaze upon one of Elaine Walton’s many watercolor works, but such blooms hold a meaning that goes so much more than canvas deep.
Walton, a Birmingham, Alabama native who now resides in New Jersey, will have her works on display at Bart & Urby’s during the Wilkes-Barre Third Friday Art Walk, an exhibit with a story to tell.
Through her watercolors depict floral life, Walton has taken some of her own life’s greatest grievances and turned them into something positive.
“I have always associated the smell of flowers with sadness,” she said. Walton’s grandfather passed away when she was 9, a death that had a huge impact on her but one that she worked through while doing art projects. She has created some form of art throughout her life – jewelry making, poetry, book art, mixed media – but her work with watercolor is what has really stuck.
She remembered a bevy of flowers from that time in her life, and when tragedy struck in 2012, another unwanted wave of florals was about to come her way: her 17-year-old daughter Parker passed away unexpectedly, and under mysterious circumstances, leaving Walton and her other daughter, now 23, to pick up the pieces.
She would not, however, let it slow her down. After taking the time to mourn, Walton threw herself into her art even more and decided she wouldn’t let life get her down.
“I wanted to change my perception and look at in a completely unexpected way which, to me, is to take a thing that holds such sadness and celebrate it,” she said.
Each work holds special meaning to Walton, the flowers always representative of something or someone in her life. She loves painting in watercolor because of the challenge it provides.
“You think you understand it and then you encounter a new type of paper and the paint needs to be handled in a completely different way,” she said. “It always pushes me in unexpected ways, which I find very rewarding. I get such a kick out of painting; when I do it, I’m not aware of the world outside me. And for me, it may not be the best painting, but it’s not about the end results – it’s about what I learned during the process.”
What she has learned is that, despite what life may have thrown her way, she can work through it.
“When I put my work out there, I’m really putting my emotions out there,” she said. “It’s a scary thing for me, but I can’t let my fear stop me from moving forward in my career or my personal life.”
To see more of Walton’s work, visit elainewalton.net.