Above: Image from Walton Ford's Pancha Tantra, ©Walton Ford
I've been a huge fan of Walton Ford's for years. I first saw one of his paintings in the gallery listing section of The New Yorker Magazine. I had no idea that the watercolors were huge until I read the description. I loved his ability to capture animals and weave a narrative and symbolic thread into his paintings. Someday I hope to see one, actually many, of these paintings in person so I can see them actual size.
In the meantime the current The New Yorker (January 26, 2009) has a profile of Ford, written by Calvin Tomkins. I recommend that you read it.
Also, you can see a self-portrait video of Ford in his studio at the Taschen site. You must go and watch this because even though it is short (under 4 minutes), there are great views of his work which give you an idea of the scale, and also the detail. He also talks about sketching at the natural history museum and shows pages from his sketchbook which are beyond lovely. Watch this video and hear him talk about the research it takes to get these great works of art! This is major, major work here folks.
If you go to the PBS website you'll find additional biographical information as well as slideshows. In particular I recommend the slideshow of him working. You'll see him doing a variety of activities from painting, preparing a plate for making a print, and sketching in the museum. If you want to hear him talk about one of his paintings and also Audobon you can go to the Political Humor and Colonial Critique Interview and click on the video links at the top of the column.
There are additional links and information on this artist if you simply google, but the above should get you started.
If you can't afford the price tag on the Pancha Tantra, don't despair. A friend gave me a copy of Walton Ford: Tigers of Wrath, Horses of Instruction (ISBN 0-8109-3286-5) which is fabulous. Well, oops, I see when I provided the link from Amazon that the book now sells for $200 and up. I would check other book selling sources because sometimes Amazon has a couple books for a hefty price. I would also check bookstores where they have used books, or remainders. You can make good finds there. I wish you luck finding this book. It is worth the search.
In the meantime you can search the internet for additional info and video clips and commentary to learn more about this artist. It is always inspiring to see work which is finely made with great skill and learn about the thought that went into the conception. Like I said, this is major, major work!