Jo Ann Williams Walker Presents Program On Journey In Arts




As award-winning artist Jo Ann Williams Walker began selecting paintings to display for her program at the Phalo Study Club meeting, a few of her former students assisted in getting the beautiful art to the clubhouse at Spring Lakes. When members and guests arrived, the clubhouse had been transformed into an art gallery showcasing Walker’s fine art impressionist paintings.

Walker’s talent and success in fine art impressionist painting has led to her having 11 books on painting, teaching classes nationally, designing artists’ brushes and developing lines of paints for global markets, as well as having her fine art displayed among the best in New York.

The artist began her program on her successful journey by explaining how it started in Opelika in the early 1970s when she and two friends, Martha Ann Scott and Jan Dukes, began painting motifs on denim shirts for their children. They were so popular that it led to offering fabric painting classes and two books, “Shirt Tales,” which were sold at every Michael’s and Hobby Lobby in America, as well as other craft shops.

As another book was in the works, Walker met with the largest manufacturer of brushes in the world. She designed a special brush that became popular with hundreds of thousands in sales, but Walker soon realized a hard lesson. She didn’t ask for royalties.

Her next two books were on painting wooden objects with Desiree and Charles Sherrer in Opelika. After painting the wooden pieces, she dried them in her oven. Walker told about one of her daughters coming in from school, looking in the oven, saying, “Our oven is full of ducks, chickens and angels. Why can’t we have cookies in the oven like other people?”

After success in these projects, Walker knew in her heart that she wanted to expand her art into fine painting. After attending national and international workshops, she met artist Milton L. Lenoir, who lived in Phenix City.

When Lenoir was going to sell one of his paintings, Walker talked to him about creating a book with sketches and step-by-step instructions on how to create the painting. Lenoir agreed, and the books were printed locally by Craftmasters.

“One thing led to another, as the art books required special brushes that we designed and sold with the Lenoir-Walker name,” Walker said.


From this project, the artists put their designs on canvas that were globally distributed.

As Walker’s creative talent became well known, she expanded into commission work of watercolor paintings for the furniture industry, as she continued her fine art. Walker also began presenting classes and workshops across the country.

Some of her paintings reflect her love of travel, the beach and mountains. Before moving back to Opelika three years ago, Walker lived in Bay Point, Florida, and spent her summers painting in Highlands, North Carolina.

While she sometimes paints from photographs, she prefers fresh flowers for her still life paintings. She will place a light on fresh flowers to show the shadows. As she paints, Walker listens to soothing music.

“I relate my painting to music,” she said. “I feel what I am painting. I feel color, strength and power.”

Walker’s stunning fine art has been on display at Pier One, the Jacob Javits Center and the Art Expo in New York.

One of Walker’s more recent projects was creating a new paint line for FolkArt Pure Artist Pigments, a large distributor of art supplies in a global market. A representative came to Opelika to work with Walker at the Art Haus on testing and formulation of the line, which is for the casual painter or crafter. The acrylic paint is available at leading retailers for customers worldwide.

Four galleries carry Walker’s paintings, including The Flower Store in Auburn. Prints of her paintings are available on note cards.

Although she grew up in Dothan, Walker considers Opelika home. In 2010, she married Herman Morris Blagg, who was a successful builder of fine homes and commercial properties until his retirement.

In closing the program for her study club, Walker showed the group a small painting of flowers that she purchased years ago.

“When I held the small floral painting, I prayed that one day I would be able to paint this beautifully,” she said.

The answer to the prayer was award-winning paintings, as well as a journey in art leading to books, classes, creating brushes and lines of paints for global markets. Walker’s life displays a beautiful picture of dedication and hard work that she enjoys sharing with others.


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