In the Studio

A day in the life of Walter Kresnik

Posted on December 4, 2011

Everyone appreciates the comfort of routine and familiarity and those at Creativity Explored are no different. From the moment artists and employees arrive at the studio each morning they fall into patterns of behavior that span from the banal coffee preparation to the more particular artwork set-up.

I spoke with artist Walter Kresnik about how he spends his days in the studio, some of his favorite things, and his recent portraiture.

“I get up, have breakfast, take the van for about twenty or thirty minutes, stop at a corner market and pick up snacks, sometimes juice, and then arrive at the studio,” says Walter. He then gets ready to draw by browsing through images in books and on the internet that relate to his current project, setting up his pencils and pens in ordered rows and helping himself to some tea.

For the next hour and a half or so, Walter, like the other artists, work steadily as instructors and volunteers mill about answering questions, providing assistance and offering feedback. 

At 11:00 a.m., a food truck arrives outside the studios, which allows for a very welcome break from work and a boost of energy. The time between this mid-morning snack and lunch at noon moves quickly, and artists soon clear the artwork from their tables and set up paper place settings. Tuna fish sandwiches and potato salad are some of Walter’s favorite lunch items — his mother used to make potato salad.

Walter describes post-lunchtime as a more relaxed and calm experience, unlike the active and energetic morning. “I go back to work after lunch and work until 2:30 p.m. when the van picks me up. At the end of the day, I put my art to the side to work on tomorrow.” 

I asked Walter if there is anything he particularly looks forward to on weekdays, and he said “Going out to dinner with my aunt, coming into the studios in the morning to see the walls covered in art, and Dance Party Fridays [a weekly informal afternoon dance party held in the studios].”

While speaking with Walter, I noticed an illustrated pin on his shirt — the image: an ambiguously gendered figure with the label “Michael”. I asked Walter about this small portrait, and he told me that he used to wear a Michael Jackson pin but had unfortunately lost it a few weeks ago. To replace this favorite pin, Walter drew his own Jackson. “Michael was a friend of mine,” he says. 

While we chatted, Walter’s calm, considerate, and amiable personality revealed itself. This personality comes through in his artwork as well; his pen marks are delicate and his colors are soft.

Walter’s most recent portrait subject is Robert Mapplethorpe, the renowned American photographer. Below is Walter’s black and white ink on paper drawing of Mapplethorpe next to its inspiration, a Mapplethorpe self-portrait.

On another day outside the studio, Walter was inspired by a recent visit to the Contemporary Jewish Museum's Houdini: Art and Magic exhibition. Upon returning to the studio, Walter created a revealing portrait of his favorite master of illusion, Harry Houdini, in white trunks and chains.

You can view (or purchase) more of Walter Kresnik’s portraits via CE's Online Store here.  Or, to see Walter in action, click here

Submitted by Alex Fine, Oberlin College intern.

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