American painter, John Seibels Walker, was born in South Carolina in 1960. He was exposed to museum quality paintings and sculptures beginning at a very early age, as his parents were avid art collectors as well as owners of a fine art gallery specializing in American and European art of the 19th and 20th centuries. With his demonstrating a passion for drawing and a keen sense of observation, John began receiving professional art instruction from a local portrait artist by the age of eight. After pursuing his interest in the arts throughout his childhood, he went on to earn a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of the South in 1983. Several years as a 19th/early 20th C art dealer followed before he went on to train at the Classical Realist atelier of Richard F. Lack, where he completed four years of study in 1991.
This special training at Atelier Lack provided him with a unique opportunity to work from life every day and to master one of the world’s longest and most important artistic traditions ~ an academic approach to observing and rendering nature accurately while learning the craft of painting using the techniques of the Old Masters. This knowledge was passed down through a direct lineage of master/pupil relationships which traces itself from the very beginnings of the French Academy in the 18th C on to America through several of the Boston School painters over a century ago ~ and finally on to a small group of academically trained painters today.
David to Ingres and Gros to Delaroche to Gerome to Paxton (the Boston School) to Gammel and on to Richard Lack.
Richard Lack noted: “John’s special gift for portraiture was revealed even in his initial studies in oil from the model. In his last year, his portraits took on a professional quality, and he painted some of the best heads that I have seen among my students. His striking gift for portraiture will, I predict, make him one of the finest American portrait painters in the forthcoming century… John will produce work of enduring merit and will be one of the best trained painters of his generation.”
After working with Lack in Minneapolis, John moved to Florence, Italy to further study European art and architecture while also teaching academic drawing and painting from life at Charles H. Cecil Studios. Several important commissions in Britain followed before his return to America and the Carolinas. Over the subsequent decade, his work was quickly to be found in numerous American, British, and European collections and he is now widely regarded as one of America’s premier painters of portraiture in the Grand Manner.
Among his many artistic influences are the style, swagger and narrative found in the work of Grand Manner portraitists of centuries past. This includes the work of Lucca’s own Pompeo Batoni, Germany’s Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Scotland’s Sir Henry Raeburn – as well as numerous late 19th/early 20th century masters such as William Adolphe Bouguereau, Philip de Laszlo, Anders Zorn and John Singer Sargent.
John always strives to create meticulously observed and exquisitely crafted museum quality work with an emphasis on what is nobel and enduring in conception and design while also capturing the essential character and unique spirit of each sitter. He is especially known for the luminous flesh tones he is equally able to achieve ~ whether working completely from life or when using his own photography and notes for a portrait.
In November of 2000, he purchased a home/studio in Lucca, Italy where his ongoing love and appreciation of Italian art, culture, and landscape have him continuing to work, study, and teach part of every year. He can otherwise be found working out of his studios in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Whenever presented with the opportunity, he also enjoys painting classical still lifes in the studio or plein air landscapes under the Tuscan sun.