heat treatment hamon Dawson knives

The Daily Grind: Dawson Knives Open House Press Release

Dawson Knives oil painting Barry DawsonHi everybody, here is the Press Release about my setup at the yearly Open House Show of Dawson Knives – have a read and take a look at their amazing and artfully 100% handmade blades:

‘The Daily Grind’:
New local artist depicting 3rd generation Prescott Valley knife craftsmen, celebrating American workmanship in oil.

For their yearly Open House Show the family owned knife artisans are now objects of visual art themselves: Painter Ans Taylor has been watching their work process and pictured it in oil on canvas.

Ans Taylor came to Prescott in 2017, taking the long route from Germany with her US military husband Tim. The Army took them from Europe to the US, then to Japan, and finally to Arizona, where they chose their forever home in Prescott.

Tim Taylor followed his dream and pursued a second career with the renowned custom blade crafters ‘Dawson Knives’. The family business around founder and Vietnam vet Barry Dawson has been operating out of their shop in Prescott Valley for the third generation. Their thoughtfully designed and carefully hand made products are pieces of art in themselves.

Getting acquainted with the work ethics and craftsmanship of these local artisans, Ans felt inspired to paint some scenes of their ‘daily grind’ in oil on canvas. She will be displaying her art at the yearly Open House Event of Dawson knives on Saturday May 19, complementing the program of sword cutting demonstrations and shop tours with a live oil painting demo.

Ans is compelled by the diverse people, wildlife and landscapes of Arizona, and wants to share her fascination with her paintings.

Link: visit Dawson Knives :)heat treatment hamon Dawson knives


countercultural oil portrait by ans taylor

Countercultural II

Countercultural II

This is part two of ‘Countercultural’, and it goes with this delightful quote I found: 

countercultural 2 christian art

countercultural oil portrait by Ans Taylor

Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion.
Alice Cooper

If you’d like to know more about ‘Countercultural’ have a look at this blog post


or read below:


When tolerance is not linked to a widely agreed-upon ethical structure – we tolerate those who disagree with that structure – but is untethered to any structure, it becomes the supreme good, and soon becomes astonishingly intolerant of those who disagree with this new tolerance. 

D.A. Carson 

In ‘Countercultural’ I wanted to depict an honest spirituality and the personal dialogue with a God that is no longer acceptable in our mainstream culture. In an age without objective truths or absolute authorities, the concept of an universal good or evil fades into ‘personal preferences’. Everything goes – except saying that not everything goes. 

Having become a Christian quite unexpectedly at age 40 it seemed no one would have been more surprised than me. But soon I discovered my search for truth in an ‘organized and outdated religion’ instead of choosing any hip fareastern-western ‘bake your own God’ mix reaped harsh criticism from many secular friends.  

Moreover, my distasteful new habit of not putting God in a convenient corner to be dusted off once a week, earned skepticism even from some Christian acquaintances. 

Weren’t us artists traditionally the ones provoking thought and discussion? So here’s a new ‘rebellion’: I painted a real Christian – not one paying lip service or using the name  for political reasons – in all her beauty caused by grace and peace coming from a deep well. 

(Note: This is the text to Zoey, modeling for CC1 – and all her grace and beauty. Since CC2 is a selfie, I don’t want to assume I’m all that grace-soaked quite yet….)



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he is risen easter e card mary magdalene

Send Easter greetings by E-card

he is risen easter e card mary magdalene

He is risen E card

Happy Easter! Are you celebrating the best news of the year? Share your joy with your loved ones and send this free ‘He is risen’ E-card via email. Just follow the link below, fill in your email (so they know where its coming from) and the email of the recipient, add an optional message, and off you go! They will receive the card with the painting and your message in their inbox immediately (in case you forgot to mail one…).
I designed this Easter card with my in-laws in mind. They are wonderful people, and I get to see them far too rarely. Mom mentioned there’s hardly motives without (depending on the season) Easter bunnies, Santa, elves and other comic characters. While as a lover of books and stories as well as all kinds of illustrations I still treasure funny characters on post cards, as a believer I can also understand the urgency and wish for cards that depict the actual reason for the celebration in our western culture.
I spontaneously grabbed oil paint and brushes and painted Mary Magdalene on the morning of the first Easter ever…
I hope you enjoy the card.
I’m considering a Giveaway for the original painting (oil on panel, 11×14), what do you think? Let me know.

And happy Easter!! :)

link to ECARD:
Easter free ecard

still life setup inspiration

Studio tools for the emerging artist 1: Get your painting space!

art studio Ans taylorI want to start with a little series about studio tools I value. This gives me a chance to introduce my happy little art working space, and maybe share some useful tips with you. Even if what works for me might not exactly fit your situation, I hope you will get something out of it to try yourself. 

While we were moving with the military from Germany to the US, across some states and then over to Japan for a couple years, I tried to paint on rare occasions at wherever ‘home’ was. While my job as a tattoo artist travelled easily (and thankfully I was drawing every day at work), oil paints were not admitted in military luggage. So watercolors and acrylics seemed the way to go, which turned out to be quite fortunate. I had my tall easel with the current painting standing in a room corner – when I heard a thump and saw the tiny Japanese kitten, that had just recently joined our family from the streets of Tokyo, happily climbing up the front of the painted canvas (note to self: textured paint paste screams ‘free-climbing wall’ to adventurous cats). 

Now imagine it would have been slow drying oil paint instead of acrylics…

So what did I learn from this – and from countless pen-wrestling matches with our two rescued monsters? If I ever wanted to take up my love affair with oil paints again, or do lasting artwork without continuous interruptions by someone trying to catch my brush, I needed my own space with at least a door or two (two are better) between me and friendly interruptions. To include never-ending household chores and other useful errands threatening to eat up your creative time!

There’s nothing like having your own little space that allows you to 

  • Have all your paints and art tools together in one spot, where you have a good overview of your options and supplies and don’t have to search them when inspiration hits,
  • Allows you to keep your current work and tools lying out and not having to waste time and energy to put everything away and drag it back out the next day 
  • Keeps you away from distractions and everyday tasks (because they never end).
  • Signal clearly you are at work and shouldn’t be disturbed.

still life setup inspirationI’m a lucky pumpkin, since here in our new permanent home in Prescott, I happen to have exactly that type of space. Our house came with a little ‘drawback’: a long room on the hillside lower level that had no connection to the rest of the home, and an extra entrance via a narrow path to the rocky ‘garden’. 

We smartly decided with the addition of a bathroom it would be the perfect separate guest room for visitors from overseas, coming to see the Grand Canyon. And put together a sweet little temporary home, with shower and guest bed, some country style antiques, mini fridge and all the fixings. Real darlin’! And as soon as the first guests left… that empty room seemed a great space to keep my easel in. 

And all my paints. And canvases. And an extra work table. And more art supplies. And a new easel. And a lot more bulk canvas. Oh, and all those paintings….

I first slowly, then rapidly exploded all over it (Sorry. Currently no guest space available in these parts!).

Now, nothing makes me happier than running down to my devoted painting space, with three windows looking out to pines, hummingbirds and critters. I have everything I need to spend a full day immersed in art without interruptions: reference books and a few art magazines, paper towels, water, a water cooker for tea or ramen, dark chocolate and squirrel food. Not to forget plenty of podcasts and audio books to listen to during seven hours of painting! 

I’m the first to realize that not every home accommodates for such a lucky arrangement (I’m also pretty lucky to have an awesome and supportive husband who puts up not only with my bird and critters on the deck, but also with my at explosion downstairs). How often do you really use that extra guestroom/ laundry room/ office space? Here in Arizona some houses feature a ‘casita’, a one room guest house, which make great art retreats as well. Maybe a shed and a space heater will work (plant some trees for shade over it). A well lighted garage serves for some. Or maybe even a room divider for your own private corner can do the job (you can use the divider to hang some canvases, too!). Maybe you can rent a studio, or join a studio community. Ask a friend to share a space.

At best, you want some door or division between you and mundane tasks or your favorite distractions, and some windows but no direct sunlight. But the important point is to find a designated space just for your art. Some place where all your work tools are just waiting for you to drop in and start playing. A little hideaway that makes you happy, and where you love going to.

Find an old, comfy arm chair for breaks. Arrange your favorite clutter aka still life inspirations. Have water or a beverage nearby so you don’t run away every few minutes. Be set up. 

arizona pines, view from art studioIt’s certainly a rather obvious piece of advice, but if you don’t have your art space yet, go get it! You will be amazed at how big of a difference it makes! Not only can you work more concentrated and your productivity increases automatically. While you would think twice if you’d really want to drag out all your supplies just for those last 45 minutes or collapse onto the couch instead – there you go, you can drop into your creative haven and paint just a moment and leave it again for the next time. Make use of your free time slots :) 

It will also increase your self esteem. Maybe you see yourself as a stay at home Mom that occasionally gets the paints out. Well, now you got a studio space – which makes you an artist, right? ;) (remember perception is 90% of reality!). Seriously, taking the first step to show that you are committed to your gift will change the way you perceive your artistic exploits yourself. And that will encourage you to pursue your passion with the zeal that makes you happy. 

My little stolen studio is the biggest blessing for my art :) I will write about some items that make my work there better in my next post, and I hope you’ll be around to give me some feedback about your favorite tools! 


passion prey oil on canvas tryptich flamenco bull fight

Passion Prey: flamenco, passion and turmoil

passion prey oil on canvas tryptich flamenco bull fightIt started rather harmlessly, with me wanting to paint the powerful body language of a Flamenco dancer. I had seen a presentation as a child in Spain, and the passion in her movements made a lasting impression. But while I was still doing research on famous flamenco dancers and watched old black and white flamenco videos, I got caught up brooding over similarities to a phase of my own life. 

Have you watched any flamenco videos lately? I recommend Carmen Amaya, the Spanish gypsy whose fiery dance turned her into a famous diva in the last century. 

To me, Flamenco Dance is a powerful expression of passion and inner turmoil. Pent up emotion seems barely harnessed into elaborate steps and hand movements. The whole body is under tension while performing the figures of the dance.

I began to see parallels. I always had plenty of passion and emotion to offer – an internal tumult, outwardly harnessed and dominated by pride. I’m sure everybody has tried to be ‘cool’ at some point and felt the fear of rejection. I was trying to storm passion prey oil on canvas tryptich flamenco bull fightthrough the wall, while at the same time keeping one foot out of the door, ready to run. 

If I wanted to, I could trace the steps of social etiquette pretty nicely – but in a moment I might as well whirl away in a crazy staccato. I wanted to be admired as a dancer, but from an emotionally safe distance to the audience, please. 

I’m not sure if the same thing happens to you, but when I open the door of imagination to such idle musings, pretty soon a wild herd of thoughts comes galloping in. 

The bull fighting arena came to mind: running around in pursuit of an open door only to slam it shut instead, I tended to end up collecting various lances. Which were in no way dealt out by devious fellow human beings! The unmoved Torero following his own dance etiquette was none other than myself. 

passion prey oil on canvas tryptich flamenco bull fightA spirited dancer, an uncaring bull fighter and the victim bull, all whirling around blindly, led by passion, pride, hidden fear and confusion. Facets of the desires, dreams, and passions of a person too caught up to break out of the circle. 

Aren’t we all striving to step away from our dance and have a look from the jury’s stand? Once we manage to look back, how rewarding is it to search for images and parallels to translate our experiences into? Certainly more rewarding than the appropriate face palm-reaction! Let’s put our blindness into beautiful pictures and paint and poetry. And transform the raw instantaneous into a new figure of thought and brush strokes.


Passion Prey, oil on canvas, 36×24 (tryptich)

I do have a little P.S.: I was never an actual dancer- tragically I was blessed with the grace and physique of a six foot bean pole as a kid, so my aspirations to become a ballet star were immediately squandered… ;) otherwise, who knows, I might be expressing myself in a dance today, instead of paints and brush…



butterfly nature inspiration

The birds and bees or where does your art come from?

Anytime we admire somebody’s work of art, we wonder how the artwork came into being. There’s the layers of paint and the arrangement and composition of the motive, which by themselves are already fascinating enough. But then there’s also the aspect of why the artist chose the subject, and if the artwork in question has more layers than the things depicted (or the ones left out). Do they relay yet another message? And where did the idea come from? What inspired the artist?
As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying the sublime spectacle of a gorgeous spring morning in the Arizona mountains: sunlight filtering through pine needles, humming birds chasing each other from the feeders, birds and squirrels hopping around the deck, gleaming cat eyes watching their outside ‘tv show’. I would call this inspiration. As I’m meditating over Romans, enjoying my quiet time and the sounds of nature, I cannot believe what a blessed first world brat I am, to have the leisure to slurp a coffee and admire dew drops on pine needles in front of my mountain house window (and then go to my studio room and do my favorite thing, painting!!).

But even though I enjoy and admire nature every day, and I do believe it’s a vital ingredient for art, I don’t necessarily feel inclined to paint pine needles and birds every day. Why is that?

Often I have more pressing things on my mind that I want to share and express. While nature is one part of life, the everyday hustle and bustle is what keeps everyone wrapped up in tasks and errands. There’s the imminent requirements and reactions, fears, anxiety, and clutter. Too much of this will provide a background hum that can drown out any inspiring thought. If you’re good enough to shoo any negative stress off your mind, you might have space for the type of thoughts that surpass the everyday bustle. And open yourself to the bigger thoughts that keep humanity on their toes – the how’s and whys and whatfors, down to the meaning and purpose of life.

All these musings are of course tinged by your personal experiences. How has your life been going? What experiences have shaped you?

In my case, life has been a good measure of wildly chaotic mess and reckless exploring. I successfully avoided a straight line for my career endeavors, spent my youth diving head first into many a dumb idea, travelled and lived on several continents. Based on that, regurgitating past experiences and lessons, my thoughts might be saturated with many emotions, from mirth and joy to sadness and regret. Some lessons might still be painful to consider.

This is where nature comes in again! I can admire the beauty around me as the most original piece of art. It exists apart from me, and I have no influence on its existence. It points to the biggest artist (in my Christian world view), and being infinitely bigger than me, it shows me my limits (and thereby the limits of my problems and subjective view of them). Not only is the sound of constant daily clutter silenced, but I can also look at the things going through my head from a more detached angle. I can spin ideas around and connect them with elements that can be translated into paint.

I might be putting together images in my head trying to express a lofty concept that I would really like to share. Or I might have an inner dialogue resulting in cartoony hippos for a children’s story.

Either way, it is amazing what some dew drops on a pine needle might inspire – not to mention a hike through the woods or a trip to the nearby Grand Canyon! ;D
butterfly nature inspiration
Later this week I want to introduce a painting of a series called ‘passion prey’. As you might imagine, it has a very personal background, and it prompted me to think of this whole topic of inspiration this morning.

Share what is the well of your inspiration. Do you also use the shower as second most important place to think? ;)  


Mountain town cowboy oil on canvas

Mountain town cowboy, Prescott, Arizona.

Mountain town cowboy oil on canvasIf you have a minute, I’d like to introduce you to my Mountain Town Cowboy:

At the age of 17 he joined the military and left his Midwest home to do his part.
26 years of service later he had served in 9 countries on 3 continents. He had been on tours in 4 war zones.
He had also made friends all over the world, learned about foreign customs and cultures and expanded his horizons. He learned proper two-steppin’ in Texas and martial arts in Japan.
In Germany he had kidnapped a green-haired artist and they explored some states and countries together….before they finally settled down in a small town in the mountains of central Arizona.

Between pine forests and highland desert lies ‘Everybody’s home town’. Local ranchers partaking in ‘the world’s oldest rodeo’ and art collectors visiting from ‘The Valley’ (Phoenix) line-dance at the country saloon. You can chat with a gold panner, a yoga teacher visiting nearby Sedona’s ‘energy vortexes’, or run into a movie star owning a tucked away house in the beautiful surrounding nature.

And on Friday nights, at the Gurley grill, you can meet a traveler who traded the gold leaf on his uniform a house in the pines and the manual craft of blade making… a mountain town cowboy. :)
Oil on canvas in floater frame, 16×20

Countercultural, oil painting by Ans Taylor

Countercultural! Rebellion in art?

I want to introduce a painting that was formed out of some experiences I made over the last two years. The specific impulse came when I was browsing online and came across a contemporary painting of a half dressed human. While (in my book) the naked human form in its intriguing complexity is a beautiful sight, this person was portrayed in a very unflattering and provocative way – almost shocking by depicting the graceless and repellent. At least this was the immediate reaction impressed onto me (it was pretty clear the artist didn’t try to paint a classic bathing nymph, to be sure).
While I was pondering the use of provocation in art, I thought of the countless offensive and sometimes humorous rebellious pieces of the last century. I was trying to define my personal standpoint to the question of how necessary art as a carrier of social criticism is, and of the tools and ways of transporting it. What is your opinion? I would love to hear of it in the comments.

Here’s my take on it:


When tolerance is not linked to a widely agreed-upon ethical structure – we tolerate those who disagree with that structure – but is untethered to any structure, it becomes the supreme good, and soon becomes astonishingly intolerant of those who disagree with this new tolerance.

D.A. Carson

In ‘Countercultural’ I wanted to depict an honest spirituality and the personal dialogue with a God that is no longer acceptable in our mainstream culture. In an age without objective truths or absolute authorities, the concept of an universal good or evil fades into ‘personal preferences’. Everything goes – except saying that not everything goes.

Having become a Christian quite unexpectedly at age 40 it seemed no one would have been more surprised than me. But soon I discovered my search for truth in an ‘organized and outdated religion’ instead of choosing any hip fareastern-western ‘bake your own God’ mix reaped harsh criticism from many secular friends.

Moreover, my distasteful new habit of not putting God in a convenient corner to be dusted off once a week, earned skepticism even from some Christian acquaintances.

Countercultural, oil painting by Ans Taylor

Countercultural, oil painting by Ans Taylor

Weren’t us artists traditionally the ones provoking thought and discussion? So here’s a new ‘rebellion’: I painted a real Christian – not one paying lip service or using the name  for political reasons – in all her beauty caused by grace and peace coming from a deep well.

Portrait Studio tips

One of the highlights of my week is painting at the Portrait Studio at Mountain Artist Guild. Every Friday morning a group of artists is arranging their easels, oil paints, watercolors, or charcoal pads around a live model, who will sit on the lighted pedestal for some hours. There’s some classical music in the background, coffee brewing in the kitchen, some jokes and chuckles, and concentrated silence. What could be more beautiful? I always feel like a young art student, and everyday worries are blended out while the timer is ticking down the twenty minute intervals we have to capture the likeliness.

Some artists are a bit hesitant to join a live model painting group – partly because it’s a challenge to transfer a 3D Model into a 2D medium (as opposed tp painting from an already 2-dimensional photograph). And then there’s the ten minutes coffee breaks in between, where everybody talks and looks at all the different interpretations at various stages.
When I first walked into the portrait studio I was quite nervous, knowing there would be several established and very gifted artists present. I had actually never tried painting a face from a live person, and had just started taking portrait lessons a few months ago – what if the poor model turned out like shrek on my panel?!!

The reality turned out so much more relaxed than I had feared. Not only were all the artists exceedingly friendly and graceful to everyone, regardless of their skill level. But they were there to do the same things as me – face a new challenge, gage proportions and light, train, experiment, learn. It’s an atmosphere of a shared passion, not of competition or even judging.

If you’ve never been at a portrait studio, I would highly recommend it. Local artist guilds are a good address, and I know there’s ‘Dr. Sketchy’s’ in many cities.
I wanted to share two little tips in case you decide to give it a try. The first time I was standing at my easel staring at the model on the brightly lit pedestal I was a bit confused trying to find the right colors in the dim light of the room. I’m all for expressionist colors, so I didnt mind the slightly exuberant result in daylight :D But I have since learned to come with my usual base skin tones already pre-mixed on my palette (I have a range from naples yellow to several flesh tone shades using green and umber,  alizarin or even purple additions). This allows me to find or adjust the right tones more quickly and get more done as well.
The other adjustment that really helped me in a setting where time is limited was to start using pre-toned canvas panels. You might be doing this already. I had until recently mainly painted with watercolors most of my life – traveling with the military to several states and two new continents (from my home Germany), the wrong type of paint tended to get thrown out of the household good shipments. So the practice to use paint thinner and a little bit of umber or sienna to get rid of the shining white cotton was news to me! But during the time sensitive model sessions it proved to be a big help to start on a mid-toned ground with less distractions to the eye. I always have a couple prepared and dried cotton panels at home, to grab them on the way out to portrait studio!

I hope you have become curious about painting from a live model in a group of like minded Peeps! Give me your thoughts about your experiences if you have tried it :)


Behind the scenes – Would you like to know more about my art?

Hi there,


after burrowing in to paint the beginning of a new body of work, I am now ready to share more with you: more about the how and why and which tools and techniques, and maybe about the where and what for (yes I’m pretty proud of my new studio space and yes there will be more art floating around on display and available as prints).

If you are following me on instagram (@anstaylorart) you might have already seen a few work-in-process shots or a story on my timeline. (By the way, if you prefer facebook you can follow the same feed on my Ans Taylor Art Business site, or if you are tired of ads and algorithms deciding what you get to see: I’m also on the brand new app VERO.)

I really recommend following me on either of those three social media outlets if you are interested in not only the scanned-and-for-sale paintings, but also sketches, work in progress, videos….

But additionally I plan to share a few more things with you here in my blog. There will be some giveaways as well! :)  Please join my mailing list to stay updated (besides, hey, I’m so proud I got that welcome letter going).
Let me know if you are interested in anything specific!

Other than that, see you in a few days :).