Walter Rane:Mormon Artist

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Walter Rane is an American painter and illustrator. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon or LDS Church.

Walter Rane Mormon artist
Kah Poon Photography

Born September 8, 1949, in National City, California, he was fascinated with art as a young boy. Someone gave him a paint-by-numbers set when he was nine years old, and he remembers that he threw away the “numbers and started using the paints.”[1] Rane studied figure drawing at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles where he earned his BFA with “Great Distinction.”

"Before pursuing his career, Walter left for a mission in France the day after he turned 19. At one point during his service, he and another elder were asked by their mission president to create a mobile visitors’ center. Walter made several pieces of artwork and collected Church posters for the open-air exhibit, taking it around their mission and giving tours. As part of their efforts, they set up the center near the Eiffel Tower on the Place du Trocadero, and a local newspaper and the Church News each printed an article about it."[2]

He lived and worked in Paris, France, with his family in 1984–1985. During his early career, he worked as a freelance illustrator in New York and Connecticut, with such clients as Reader’s Digest, Time, Life, and National Geographic, Random House, and The Rockefeller Group.

In the early 1990s, Walter submitted the piece "Mother and Child" to the Church’s First International Art Competition, and Richard Oman, who began the competition, took notice. Walter continued to submit to the Church’s art competitions. One was a religious painting of the Christ child observing Joseph working as a carpenter. The Church History Museum purchased it, which led to Walter’s first commission for the Church in the late ’90s of a painting depicting the resurrected Christ addressing Mary outside the tomb. It originally hung in the visitors’ center in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and is now displayed in the Conference Center.

The Church of Jesus Christ asked him to create more works of art on religious themes. He has painted scenes from the Book of Mormon and events from the life of Jesus Christ. According to his website, “his work has expanded into more personal subjects, including scriptural themes. . . . Within the scriptures, he finds profound messages and truths concerning life’s experiences which inspire images that express his own deeply held beliefs.”

"Today, 14 of his originals are displayed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from Rome to Palmyra to Barranquilla. Ten originals hang in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, and 14 of his Book of Mormon paintings are displayed in the meetinghouse below the Manhattan New York Temple. In total, the Church History Museum has a staggering 72 pieces by Walter in its collection, including paintings, etchings, and preparatory drawings for paintings. And that’s not to mention the works housed in many buildings on Temple Square as well as the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center and the Whitmer Farm. But of even greater consequence than the number of paintings Walter has created for the Church is what he has accomplished through his pieces: By bringing new life to religious art for Latter-day Saints, he has invited countless viewers to deepen their faith."[3]

Art of Mormon Walter Rane

His work has been exhibited on the East and West Coasts, and Utah. In addition to his permanent collection at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah; the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah; and Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia, retain permanent collections.

Rane lived for a time with his wife, Linda, and four sons in Oregon, where he painted landscapes and taught for a living. He and Linda now live in New York City.