Drawing Has Defined Steve Walter’s Life
“I’ve been defined by my ability to draw my whole life,” said Anderson Artists Guild member and former president Steve Walter.
Rheumatic fever at age three left him with a heart murmur and prevented his participation in the usual youth sports, so his mother arranged art lessons that continued for years. He also was a willing practice subject for the standardized tests his mother utilized in her work as a reading teacher. He followed in his father’s musical footsteps, playing his dad’s trombone in the high school band, but he had to improvise a bit. “I was so small I couldn’t reach the final sixth position on the slide,” he said. “I had to throw it out and catch it with my toe. When we marched, I just skipped that note.”
At the University of South Carolina, Walter majored in art education and expected to teach in public schools but found his practice teaching unsatisfying. While in school he found part-time work as a sign painter and graphic artist and worked as an architectural draftsman drawing house plans. He also played guitar in a folk group called The Jesters. After graduation, he fulfilled his ROTC obligation to the U.S. Naval Reserve.
His first job after completing his military stint was as a graphic artist at the Union Camp paper mill in Savannah. There he took corporate artists’ designs for paper bags for products ranging from potatoes to pet food and turned them into color-separated, finished black-and-white drawings ready for the printing presses.
Then he worked for the Savannah-Chatham County Planning Commission in Savannah, where he produced presentations and publications for city planning staff to present to commission members. That opened his eyes to the power of visual communication and led him to return to school for a master’s in educational media from the University of Georgia and later a doctorate in instructional systems technology from Indiana University.
He spent three years developing instructional materials for faculty at Clayton Junior College in Atlanta before returning home to South Carolina and a job as audiovisual director at Tri-County Technical College, where his responsibilities included media services, the library, printing, and advertising. He also found time to draw, most notably a rendering of Clemson University that included every building on campus and sold several hundred copies.
After retiring as a dean in 2007, Walter devoted more time to art until serious health problems in 2015 forced him to focus on recovery. Then, he said, “I found I lost a lot of my drive to paint.” Instead, he has spent recent years returning to his interests in drawing and cartooning, along with sharing family history, organizing and expanding on the boxes of genealogical matter he came across after his dad’s death.
Walter is married to AAG member Diana Walter.