About The Artist

Renee Walkup grew up in Kansas City loving art and nature, where she was influenced by her father, an accomplished oil painter. She graduated from Stephens College in Art, the first of her family to graduate with a four year degree.

Her lifelong dream was to wake up every morning enjoying morning alpine light shining over the Rockies. So after spending many years in the eastern US working in publishing and traveling the world as an international speaker, she relocated to Fort Collins, CO in 2016. In Colorado, she finds inspiration in stunning sunrises, wide skies, plants, and wildlife.

Her Inspiration

As a tactile artist, with a vivid imagination, Renee finds inspiration in the interplay of color and various shapes working in contrast and harmony. Using mostly upcycled items including tiles, glass, semiprecious stones, copper, crystal beads, rubber, ceramic, and objects from nature, Renee creates pieces that reveal beauty in color, texture, and form. Each hand-crafted piece is one of a kind. Her main passion lies in re-creating guitars, ukuleles, and violins which were previously used as instruments of auditory beauty, then retired, and repurposed as Renee’s visual works of art.

“With a bit of whimsy, endless creativity and impressive skill, Renee Walkup gives new lives to forgotten musical instruments and other objects.” 

–Irene Middleman Thomas

Her Methodology

Her methodology begins with an overall drawing, creating a theme. Then, after preparing the piece, she gathers materials, and lays out various semiprecious stones, glass, beads, and other items as they emerge into a conceptual design. Hundreds of items are then laid out as she painstakingly eliminates materials from many choices and a design emerges with varying shapes and contrasting textures for interest.
Renee is particularly fond of creating custom pieces that suit a particular buyer’s desire for an original and unique work of art. Her innovative pieces are in demand as unique gifts for art collectors of all ages.

About Renee’s Obsession with Reusing and Recycling

“I’ve spent my entire life drawing, coloring, painting, beading, gluing, and in general designing and creating something. As an art major at Stephens College, I was attracted to photography and spent countless hours in the darkroom on campus. In those days, darkrooms had zero light, and I believe that the act of threading film into canisters, and developing film, all in the dark, developed a different part of my brain, making me even more tactical than I already was.

While working full time in the corporate arena and as an international speaker, my dream was to learn how to mosaic. I’ve always loved the art of mosaic, but had never tried my hand at it until we moved to Colorado. In 2017, my first experience with mosaics involved taking a class from a traditional mosaic artist who used all the same color tiles lined up next to each other. I was bored, and as anyone can see, branched out by taking classes from more recognized mosaic artists and experimenting on my own.

My materials are typically sourced when I travel to thrift stores and consignment shops. I love to feel the weight of items, determine exact colors and shapes, while I scavenge for unusual materials that work with glass. My goal is to use at least 85% upcycled materials in each of my pieces. Most of the time I can accomplish just that—minimizing the need to purchase “new”.

Much of the glass I use is from the stained glass scrap bins. Yep, I end up cutting my hands quite often, but cuts are temporary and art is forever. The instruments are found retired, either online, donated, or sourced from guitar repair shops and elsewhere. Many of the items used would have ended up in landfills if not for my rescue efforts. Clearly chemicals, such as adhesives, grouts, paints, putty and hangers are not reused.

In short, at home or in my studio, before I ever discard anything (such as glass jars, ribbons, wood candle lids, and all sorts of plastic), I ask myself if I can re-use the item either in my art or while creating a work of art. Usually the answer is “yes”, as I mix grout in old turkey flats, combine paint in yogurt tubs, and use the tops of my favorite soy candles as mini seascape mosaics.”