Coastal Muse

03 Jul 2024

Judy Walters transports viewers to the Lowcountry waters

By Liesel Schmidt

There’s a common thread of awe running through Judy Walters’ paintings, whether they depict the incredible colors of a sunset over the Lowcountry marshes or the sweeping vistas of a canyon in the West. Wherever she finds her muse, Walters brings viewers into that world with her, standing at the water’s edge with the breeze in their hair or catching their breath as they look out across the expanse with the sun on their back.

Growing up a coal miner’s daughter from Pikeville, Kentucky, Walters learned a love of simplicity and explored her creativity through any means she could—one of her favorites being the cardboard dollhouses she would make using pictures of furniture cut from the Sears catalogues. But it was the vibrancy of the colors that surrounded her in the mountains of eastern Kentucky that struck the deepest chord in her artist’s soul.

“"Those incredible colors awakened in me the desire to do something creative at an early age," she says.”

Before becoming a full-time artist in 2017, Walters spent years in the real estate industry as a developer and commercial appraiser. Even during that time with her focus on her career, she harbored a desire to improve the natural talent she’d shown since she was a child and explore it fully. It wasn’t until retirement in 2008 that she fully immersed herself in painting. Over the next ten years, she began taking art workshops and traveled to Europe to study with artists, attending the Florence Academy of Art and learning plein air painting to sharpen her skills.

With her muse being closely tied to the life and the landscapes in which she immerses herself, living in Charleston has given Walters an endless source of inspiration. She and her husband now live on Daniel Island. The artist paints from her studio on Daniel Island as well as from a studio on their boat, Boogie Babe IV.

“Being on the boat means the location of that studio could be any port along the Eastern seaboard,” she says. “My favorite subjects to paint are our landscapes, the water and the coastline of Eastern seaboard from Provincetown to Key West. The light and shadow of a sunset, marsh or a seascape inspires me to paint. Each sunset reminds me of how thankful I am for God's gift to me for that day. What better way to express gratitude for that than to capture it on a canvas?”

Walters’ expansive travels throughout Asia, Europe and Africa focused her eye for landscapes and instilled in her a unique vision in recreating them on the canvas. Her “art adventures” feed the energy of her brush, guide the colors of her palette and inspire the message that speaks from the resulting image.

“As I pursue an art career, I am reminded that something lovely can be created simply with my paint and love of a subject,” says Walters, who has carried the lessons she was taught as a child with her throughout her life and now sees that beauty coming from simplicity as an artist.

As a style, Walters is particularly drawn to expressionism and prefers oil as her medium, “because the paint seems so fluid and gives me the ability of strong mark making,” she notes. Her trademark application is saturated hues with loose, expressive brushstrokes. Her paintings are almost a catalogue of natural light patterns and the effect that atmospheric light has on land and water.

Walters also loves to depict the sights of her childhood on canvas, using vibrant colors and brushwork to bring her memories to life. Admittedly, she finds her greatest challenge in “loosening up” and trying new techniques. Color values have also been a challenge to master, as the accomplished painter still struggles with the desire to use a pop of bright color in places that they may not particularly fit. Her style, however, is precisely what has so endeared her to her followers and her collectors. She is a member of the Mount Pleasant Artist Guild, Charleston Artist Guild, Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, Artist Association of Nantucket and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society.

She currently shows her work at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery and Perspective Gallery in Mount Pleasant and her work can be found online at

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