By Lauren Olds
As the first leaves begin to fade from vibrant greens to golden yellows, the Art Cellar Gallery is winding down their Summer Exhibition schedule. A large portion of the season was dedicated to realism with exhibitions for David Birmingham’s landscapes and Loren DiBenedetto’s still lifes. The theme continues through the last show of the season with Walter Stanford’s animal portraits gracing the walls Wednesday, September 21st through Saturday, October 8th.
Walter Stanford graduated from East Carolina University’s School of Art with a degree in illustration. For the next 13 years he worked as a freelance illustrator providing editorial, humorous and conceptual work for clients nationwide. In addition to his illustrative work, he taught graphic design, typography and illustration at Rowan Community College.
One of Walter’s major influences are the works of Rembrandt. His use of light and ability to capture personality through his subjects’ eyes lead Walter to pursue a similar effect with wildlife. He is particularly interested in the portrayal of birds of prey up close and personal.
Years ago he visited the Carolina Raptor Center where he saw a crippled Peregrine Falcon. An animal that, in its prime, is the fastest animal on earth. The fierce energy in its eyes persisted despite its condition.
“I find there’s a wildness in the eyes and sometimes I may spend an hour just trying to capture that. If the eyes are not right, the piece is unbelievable,” Walter explains.
His attention to detail beautifully captures the spirit of the animals. The soft ruffled feathers and fur juxtaposed with the sharp gaze in the eyes foster an intimate relationship with the viewer and the animal. It presents an opportunity to step into the untamed life of these feral subjects. “I want to bring that animal into a person’s home,” says Walter.
Stop by the Art Cellar Gallery to experience the powerful wildlife portraits of Walter Stanford as the Summer season comes to a close. An Open House will be held on September 24th from 3-5pm.