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The wonder of Walton’s watercolors

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Local Needham artist Nancy Motley Walton periodically opens her doors to the public for her holiday exhibit and sale. She did so on Saturday and Sunday of November 20 and 21, transforming the first floor of her home into a spectacular one-woman gallery. On the day, all of her watercolors were displayed throughout her home, as well as outside in a gallery tent — with some paintings even displayed on a clothesline. 

The eye-catching pieces invited viewers to take a closer look.

Nancy Motley Walton has been painting since the 80’s and found a love for watercolor in 1991. Her work is all original, mainly consisting of nature vignettes, still-lifes, and local scenes. Many nearby parks and Martha’s Vineyard beaches are depicted in her work. Walton frames all of her work herself and offers a variety of artwork.

“I basically turn my whole first floor into my gallery,” Walton explained, welcoming the public to view her work. “People can see my paintings here and imagine it on their own walls.” In the dining room, a glorious leafy branch watercolor brought green hues to life against a red wall, which Walton also painted herself. On the table of the dining room were a stack of unframed watercolors with jagged edges from cold-pressed paper. 

The detail to Walton’s work is absolutely stunning; whether it’s a winter pond, waves crashing into the shore, or a scene at a crowded bar, Walton manages to capture the essence of what it’s like to be in the moment. 

In the living room, a fantastic depiction of birds in a flock, entitled “Follow the Leader” sparked great interest from observers. Inspiration struck whilst Walton was taking a walk. “I’m always looking up at the sky,” she explained. “It was a migratory group of birds and I thought it was so perfect. I love painting skies. I created the sky as a backdrop and place that flock of birds.” Colors separated on the paper to create blue sky tones, with flecks of gray and white throughout. The dynamic and gentle touch of Walton’s paintings seems to be her signature.

Also in the living room, framed in plexiglass, resided one of Walton’s most memorable works, “She Will Rise Again”. 

“This was one of the most emotional paintings I’ve done,” the artist admitted. “It’s the fires at Notre Dame. What I did is I took photos of the television coverage. I created my own photographs from the coverage. Dirt and smoke of yellow and blue layer on to give a dirty effect that evokes emotion from the moment.” 

Even with more abstract pieces, Walton aims to evoke emotion. In “Gale Warnings!” and “Above the Swirl”, for example, she uses an acrylic gesso base thinly applied prior to watercolor application, resulting in a semi-abstract effect. She clarified, “I am a representational painter. I’m not trying to copy it exactly. I always strive for the fact that what I create as a painting is much more than a photograph. I take it to another level where I put the emotion in it. I’m emphasizing the turbulence of the weather. Adding that veracity.” 

Walton teaches classes from home and has for over two decades. Students came to view her work and perhaps purchase a piece or two. 

“As my career as an artist has grown, my need for space has expanded,” Walton explained. She has an in-home studio with plenty of natural light, which she considers the most important aspect of inspiration. “It’s always the light,” she said. “It always dictates what I do. It catches my attention. It can be anything. The light on the water, light coming through trees, juxtaposition. Light is huge. I’m alert to color and composition, but light is what draws my attention to something.” 

Nancy Motley Walton’s work can be found across New England. “Eye of the Flower” can be seen at the Needham Public Library this month as part of the Needham Art Association’s latest show. To learn more about the artist, visit

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