“Plato taught that all ideas came from a larger place. This concept of different spheres of existence, of past and present and future, plays a big part in my paintings. I might make one panel very clear and another cloudy, to convey this sensation of variant realities, no matter what my subject.
I believe in the Platonic concept that the idea of a place or an object supersedes actual reality. So when it comes to the landscape, while I’m inspired by actual places, I strive not to imitate them but to re-create the universal idea of landscape in time. Past, present and future are expressed not only by the vertical breaks in my paintings but also by the multiple transparent glazes that I apply over raw under-painting.
My work is intended to evoke emotions and feelings, questioning what we are and how we see them. We all bring our experiences into each question we try to solve. These same experiences also determine how we look at our world. We may think of some common experiences when we ponder these passages, but more likely, they are much more individual and unique. The work is simply not about what we see in front of us, but rather, about what we bring into our interpretation.
I hope that when people look at my work, what they see calms them and illustrates the beauty that is all around us. Society has become very complicated. Peace lies in simplicity.”
Tal Walton was born in Salt Lake City in 1965. At age 18, Tal traveled to Mexico to do mission work as a representative of the Mormon church. For Mormons, this mission service marks the passage into adulthood. For Tal, it also profoundly influenced his development as an artist.
In Mexico, he discovered interesting dichotomies – from the simple determination of the impoverished people in contrast to the difficulty of their lives, to the ornate Spanish cathedrals set against the sparse landscape. Contrasts of the simple and the complex would later become the hallmark of his paintings.
Walton studied painting and sculpture at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fine Art. Well-grounded in classic forms and philosophy, Walton embraces the Platonic concept of different spheres of existence. He structures his work through use of orthogonal measurements to create strong and harmonious composition.
Walton’s hope is that the serenity of his paintings will draw the viewer in, and the complexity of his work will inspire lingering contemplation. In his paintings he strives not to imitate actual places but to recreate the universal idea of landscape and time.
Tal paints in oil on a prepared marble ground highlighted with gold leaf, which imparts luminosity to the pigments overlaying its surface. Walton also adds sandpaper marks and scratches to the gessoed surface, giving it an aged, old appearance. He applies as many as 20 glazes to each piece. These techniques and his personal and religious sources of inspiration impart an Old World feeling to his work, bridging the gap between the traditional and the contemporary.
Walton learned the skill of making frames, enjoying the complexities of gilded ones. Inspired by the elaborately carved and gilded altars he had seen in cathedrals in Mexico, he began placing his finished paintings in his own wonderful gilded creations. For a brief moment he was concerned that the works might be misconstrued as sacrilegious, although his intent was just the opposite: he wanted people to look at the landscape in a reverent way. One of the most recognizable elements of Walton’s work is his use of three-part divisions. All of his paintings are divided into three sections – usually vertical. The underlying design and what Walton wants to convey govern the width of the three adjoining bands.
The three divisions found in Walton’s paintings symbolize our past, present, and future lives. They are derived from his spiritual pursuit, asking the three eternal questions: Why am I here, where am I from, and where am I going?
The center section of each painting represents the current reality of our lives and is symbolized by relatively strong, clear colors. By contrast, the colors in the adjoining sections are darker and more muted.
Tal currently lives and works in Fort Collins, Colorado where he finds balance between painting and activities with his family.