Artist steps out of his ­comfort zone into success

Leafscape is a collage by Walter Crew.

Artist steps out of his ­comfort zone into success

Walter Crew won an award in every art contest he entered when he was in grammar school.

“I’ve always been artistic, but I didn’t start painting seriously until I retired in 2002 from my career as an aircraft machinist,” says Crew.

“I studied art at Diablo Valley College for several years and worked my way up through all of their advanced curriculum,” he adds. “Now, four of my paintings hang in the DVC library as part of their permanent collection.”

Many of Crew’s paintings include animals – from tigers and birds to cats and dogs. Before taking on art as his hobby of choice, Crew spent many years on the dog show circuit with his two AKC champion bulldogs named Buster and Rip.

“Those times were special in my life, and I made some really great friends,” he recalls.

Crew has enjoyed even more good times and good friends through his involvement in the East Bay Artists Guild and the CC14 group (CC stands for Contra Costa).

“CC14 began years ago with a group of 14 adult art students from DVC who got together after classes for critique sessions and socializing. Our group is much larger now and we show our work all over the area,” Crew says.

Working with watercolor, oil, acrylic, mixed media collage and even scratchboard, Crew has created hundreds of paintings over the years. Dozens are on display at any given time, and he shows regularly at Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek and aRt Cottage in Concord. Some of Crew’s work is on display in the CC14 exhibit at the aRt Cottage, 2238 Mt. Diablo St., through April.

Artists collaborate with city to brighten downtown Concord
Leafscape is a collage by Walter Crew.

“I’ve always tried to paint realistic imagery, and for years I resisted even trying anything abstract. But one day, I finally decided to take some risks. In doing so, I realized my paintings were more interesting and more colorful,” he says. “Now I try to work abstract elements into most of my work, and I’m getting more compliments, more awards and more sales than I’ve ever had before.”

His recent series of abstract acrylic collages include found objects such as leaves, string and fabric scraps.

“I try to paint every single evening. It’s my therapy and it’s so relaxing,” Crew reports. “I plan to be painting for the rest of my life, or at least until I can’t hold a brush any longer.”

Lisa Fulmer is a mixed media artist, small business marketing consultant, and community arts advocate.