Takeyce Walter is always searching for pockets of time; time to paint, sketch and draw.
That’s especially true during what she calls Creative February.
“It’s amazing when you really have something planned, how you can find those moments,” Walter said.
The Round Lake artist is running on a tight schedule, trying to paint one Adirondack landscape a day for the entire month of February. Her goal is to cover six million acres in 29 days with 29 paintings.
This isn’t the first time Walter has embarked on an artistic marathon of this nature. She began Creative February back in 2014 when she was struggling to find time to paint between working a full-time job and raising three children with her husband, Dan. Since her birthday is in February, she decided to give herself a nonmaterial gift, and a challenge.
“ . . . time to make art every single day, to do something creative. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself to [finish] a masterpiece,” Walter said.
Instead, she tried to create something every day and invited fellow artist Kate Edwards to do the same. They each made 28 paintings and celebrated with an exhibit at Spring Street Gallery in Saratoga Springs, where most of the paintings were sold.
In the following years, Walter invited more artists to join in Creative February on social media, creating a group on Facebook. While it’s a challenging undertaking, Walter tries to encourage people to participate even if they can’t paint or create something every day.
“It’s fun to see other artists join in . . . I always tell people, “You don’t have to do it every single day. Even if it’s just one day if you see an image that inspires you then do it. And you don’t have to do a painting. You can do a poem, anything creative’,” Walter said.
For this year’s Creative February, she wanted to highlight the region that got her back into painting well over a decade ago: the Adirondacks.
“When we moved here in 2003, my husband and my son and I would take weekend trips to explore the area. We went to Vermont, we went West, to Cooperstown. We drove up north. When I got up there, it was incredible . . . I get goosebumps when I think about the first time we experienced the Adirondacks. . . . [I was] just in awe of the magnificent beauty that’s there. I thought I would have to go out West to experience this kind of landscape,” Walter said.
It was around the same time Dan encouraged her to get back into painting. The landscape of the Adirondacks seemed like the perfect subject matter. She’s been painting the region ever since, in a vibrant and lush style that evokes the spirit of the Adirondacks as much as it depicts the landscape.
In the last year though, since joining the board at The Nature Conservancy, she’s also started to look at the area through an ecological lens. The Adirondack Chapter of the Conservancy works to preserve the land and the water in the area, and it has preserved nearly 600,000 acres since 1971.
Walter approached Peg Olsen, the director of the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter last year about using Creative February to highlight the beauty and ecological importance of the areas the Conservancy has preserved.
“The Conservancy has done so much, through science, to safeguard this remarkable region. But sometimes, it’s easier to tell that story on an emotional level. And what better way to do that than with art?” Walter said.
Throughout February, she’ll depict the lands that the Conservancy has preserved over the years and spotlighting each distinctive season that the region experiences.
“All our work is guided by facts and data—whether we’re guarding against invasive species on land and water, working to reduce flood risk in communities by improving road-stream crossings, or by using conservation tools to ensure wildlife can move freely as climate change alters habitats,” said Olsen. “Telling our story through art makes an equally strong case why these places need to be protected.”
The first piece that Walter created was of the Artist’s Cottage at the Santanoni Preserve in Newcomb, which was the first piece of land that the Conservancy preserved before donating it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. To get the reference photos, she visited the cottage a few weeks ago, cross country skiing five miles there and five back to get reference images.
In the coming days, she’ll also paint OK Slip Falls, Everton Falls, and Mt. Marcy, using her own reference photos along with those of other local photographers who have taken interest in the project.
Each morning, she posts the reference photo she’s using on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #CreativeAdirondacks. At the end of the day, she posts her finished work on social media as well as her website (takeyceart.com).
In between, the race is on. She still works full time, as a media producer for Cengage Learning in Clifton Park, and her kids are active.
“You have to be very creative with your time. When I drop my daughter off to swim, instead of sitting in my car flipping through Facebook, I race back up here and start. [Then] I have about and hour and a half to work after the kids go to bed,” Walter said.
She primarily paints in her workshop, which is behind her home looking out over Round Lake. However, she also brings her art supplies wherever she needs to go, looking for those pockets of time throughout the day.
She’ll be showing the finished works from Creative February at the Spring Street Gallery from April to May and then at Keene Arts in June. The latter show will also feature works from other Adirondacks artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the art will be donated to conservation causes.
“I feel like I’m at a point now where I really just want to give back to things that I feel passionate about,” Walter said.
To follow along with her journey through Creative February, visit her website or her Instagram account, @takeycewalter.