From art to statistics to art: one man's life comes full circle

Deborah Wheeler
“I like to capture the beauty of things around me,” Walt Foegelle tells The Sun. “I don't have to be inspired. I like creating on a canvas or a piece of paper."

Walt Foegelle's life has done a 360.

Foegelle spent his working life teaching economics, statistics, and did policy analysis in university administration in North Carolina.

At retirement, though, he decided to go back to his first love: art.

"I didn't go from math to art," he explains. "I actually went from art to math, and now I'm back at art. I was an artist first. I just can't make up my mind what side of my brain I want to work out of."

Even though Foegelle spent the majority of his life doing something else, when asked, he says he has been an artist for 60-plus years.

"I started painting and drawing as a kid, but life got in the way. There's no time to pursue a passion when you have adult responsibilities," he said.

Foegelle moved to Santa Rosa Beach at retirement eight years ago.

"We started coming to the Gulf beaches years ago. We have stayed at places all up and down the coast from Gulf Shores to Panama City and we liked it best here," he said. "It's a lot nicer here than south Florida. It still has seasons and offers a good life."

In his new life, Foegelle says he has become an explorer, and he wakes up every day with a passion, which he describes as eclectic.

"I don't need to be inspired to paint, draw, or photograph anything," he says when quizzed as to what inspires him.

Foegelle's pursuit of photography and painting and all other forms of art is now his full time vocation.

"I'm just trying to figure out what kind of artist I want to be," he says. "I can't even decide between using acrylics, watercolors, pencils, mosaics, or photography.”

Foegelle said the comment he hears most often from those who view his work is "varied."

"They ask, 'Did one person do all these? They're all different,' " he says with a chuckle.

Foegelle is mostly self taught and learns by experimenting. His work reflects attention to detail and the artistic use of darkness. To him, darkness, contrast, and tonality are far more important than color.

His passion for what he does earned him 1st Prize at Northwest Florida State College's Prime Time Spring Art show in 2010 and 2011.

He took Best in Show at Florida State College South Walton Campus in 2011.

His work is currently on exhibit in a one-man show at NWFSC's South Walton campus, which is sponsored by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and is up through Oct. 10.