Christine Walker is an artist and writer. Her paintings are exhibited in galleries and private and corporate collections. "A Painter's Garden: Cultivating the Creative Life," her first book, contains paintings and drawings based on her gardens and essays inspired by her journals about the creative process. Her multi-disciplinary career has encompassed set and costume design for dance theater and video, graphic design and illustration, songwriting for an award-winning series of children's albums and book "Wooleycat's Musical Theater," teaching, and public speaking.
Christine was born and raised in Kansas where she witnessed tornadoes, had a pet parakeet who died in a storm, and was shaken by her first earthquake while an art student at the University of Kansas. Little else in her life was tumultuous. She grew up in a suburb of Kansas City with loving parents, two sisters, and a brother. She enjoyed school, swam on a swim team in the summers, and laid the foundation for her career in the arts, beginning as a young girl with piano lessons from her maternal grandmother, tap-dancing classes, and the making of a paper maché castle while watching Ding Dong School with her sister Carol. Artistic influences were all around the house, in the paintings on the walls by her grandparents, aunts, and uncles—a New York illustrator and a well-known cartoonist—and in the baby grand on which she practiced. It had belonged to her paternal grandfather, who was an architect and twice poet laureate of Kansas.
After studying visual art in college and graduating with a BFA, she moved to San Francisco (her fear of tornadoes and earthquakes were equally weighted—it's always something!), where she held unremarkable jobs in the darkroom of a label printing company and in an art supply store. A year later, she returned to Kansas City, where she taught in a progressive alternative elementary school founded by a group of parents, and was an original staff member of The Learning Exchange, an innovative resource center for teachers and parents, where she served as a program director and newsletter editor and designer. All the while, she was making art—photographs, lithographs, and paintings—and writing.
In 1978, she moved back to San Francisco, entered the Masters in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts program at San Francisco State University, began working as a freelance graphic designer and writer, and set up a painting studio in a warehouse above a fortune cookie factory. Classes in dance and improvisation led to her collaborations with contemporary dance choreographers of ODC/San Francisco. She designed sets and costumes for many of their pieces. In 1982, she married Dennis Hysom and, during the next sixteen years, founded a graphic design business with Susan Bercu as partner, and continued painting and exhibiting in galleries in the Bay Area and in juried shows, museums, and corporate collections nationally.
Visual art, writing, and music have always been the central themes of her life. In 1988, she added motherhood to the mix. When she lost the lease on her warehouse painting studio, she and Dennis rented a house with small detached studio in the backyard, where she planted a garden and painted what grew. Her son, Quinn, rode his tricycle around and around her easel set up on the patio.
In 1994, she moved with her family to the apple orchard and vineyard countryside of Sonoma County, near the small town of Sebastopol. Their home on one acre and the garden with established perennials and fruit trees inspired her paintings and her book, A Painter's Garden: Cultivating the Creative Life. After completing that manuscript, she began a short story and soon found she was writing a novel. While helping with a talent show for her son's school, Dennis and she met their musical neighbors, The Jenkins, and began writing songs in the country genre for them. The group later signed with Capitol Nashville.
In 2004, she entered the low-residency MFA in Writing and Literature at Bennington College and, while in the program, completed her third novel. She continues to make and exhibit paintings and monotypes and write books. She works as a branding and communications consultant, creative director, and illustrator. As a way of giving back some of what she's learned as an artist and writer, she leads workshops and presentations on creative process.