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Perhaps more than any other Highwayman, Charles Walker carefully studies the landscape as part of his creative process. Charles is not, nor has he ever been, a fast painter. Rather, he carefully considers every aspect of his paintings, most often incorporating animals into his scenes. He married Gertrude Roberts (Livingston Roberts sister) and that was how he was first introduced to the group.

Charles claims that his love for nature is in his blood, passed down from his much loved parents who both lived long lives and were married for 60 years. Charles had a pleasant childhood, he says, “It was good growing up in Lincoln Park". Charles and now wife Gertrude were both students in Zanobia Jefferson’s art class at Lincoln Park Academy. In the early years to earn money Charles worked the fields picking and hauling vegetables. Due to his athleticism, as an adult, Charles got a job working at the Lincoln Park Recreation Center in Fort Pierce as a Youth Supervisor. He taught various sports as well as art. After thirteen years, he left this position to care for his aging parents and to spend time to painting.

Gertrude started painting landscapes before Charles, in the late 1960s. At that time, he was more interested in drawing. Livingston Roberts, Gertrude’s brother and one of the early Highwaymen painters, got Gertrude started. After she and Charles became a couple, they painted together at the Arcade Building in the early mornings. Al Black sold Gertrude’s paintings on the road in the early 1970s, about the time Charles started doing his own painting. However, he didn’t hang out with the other painters, as he had a full time job at the time and he was more of a loner anyway.

Increasingly, Charles found that painting gave him a sense of peace. He was always been studious about his work; it’s the approach he took with most things. He rarely did anything fast, maintaining, “You need to pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s about taking things seriously.” Bud Adams, the owner of Adam’s Ranch, used to allow Walker to experience nature on his land whenever he wanted. Bean Backus also wandered Adams Ranch for inspiration, and Charles was quick to acknowledge that being outdoors was artistically exciting. He preferred visiting Adams Ranch in the early morning when you could see the Florida midst. This was a special place for Charles, as it reminded him of the landscape of his youth.

Although Gertrude began painting earlier than Charles, he became known as the painter in the family. She became the St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections in 1980 and continues with her demanding career. The couple had four children and several grandchildren.

There was a calm sweetness to Charles Walker’s character. Nature settled him and gives him pleasure. His paintings were like him: tranquil and accepting. This quiet acceptance came from his parents’ strength, a community that nurtured him, and a deep and abiding love for what nature has to offer. He was always quick to say that he'd been blessed.


Charles painted scarcely until his passing in 2022. His paintings are very intentional and stylistically unique, meaning his work is very hard to come by. He taught himself to paint and never stopped his educational process. He said his “mind is always open to learning.” He studies the work of other artists to become a better painter, and he recognized that the natural environment can be a teacher. Like many other nature artists, he was an observer.

Biographies are adapted from those on, one of the earliest informative websites on the Florida Highwaymen. Since the site is no longer active, we have provided them here.

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