Chris Gwaltney was born in Van Nuys, California. He sketched and drew from an early age and after an injury that left him on crutches for a year and a half, at the insistence of an artist friend, he started painting.
He attended California State University at Fullerton where he received Degrees in Bachelors of Arts in 1984 and then Masters of Fine Arts in 1986. He was approached by gallerist Diane Nelson with the offer of a solo show while hanging his Graduate Exhibition.
Over the next 29 years Gwaltney has been a feature artist with numerous galleries: Diane Nelson 1986-1991, Peter Blake Gallery 1993-2011, Robert Green Gallery 1997-2005, Sue Greenwood Gallery 2011-2013, Tria Gallery, Chelsea, NY (2010-2014)
Currently Gwaltney shows with Seager/Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, CA (2011-present) Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, Utah, (2008-present) and recently with Cadogan Contemporary in Kensington, London, UK.
Gwaltney’s influences hail strongly from the Bay Area Figurative school and include such favorites as Nathan Olivera, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown, de Stabler and Joan Mitchell. In terms of mark making and palette, he looks to Deibenkorn, Jean Michel Basquiat, Twombly, de Kooning and Linda Stojak.
For Gwaltney, gestures and their implied emotions are more important than pure representation and finish. Gwaltney has used his entire family as source material; from the growth of his children, the resiliency and strength of his wife to the passing of both his father and his father-in-law. He feels these relationships are the most honest way to express layered emotion.
Gwaltney’s process is one of construction and then deconstruction, “I’m a better editor than I am an inventor. I’ll paint in many figures and let them fight it out.” He allows for the underlying sketches, the “original argument”, to show through in the end result.
Gwaltney likes to think that, “a painting is a testament to time well spent.”