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:

Countercultural

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 :)

anstaylorselfie

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

Hi there,

anstaylorselfie

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 :).

oil paint palette

Becoming an ‘Oil Painter of America’! ;)

Did you make a number of plans for the new year? I certainly oil paint palettehave a huge (and pretty detailed!) list of accomplishments I am aiming for this year. It will be a busy and exciting year, and you will be able to follow the progress on this blog (sign up for my newsletter!).
The first good news to reach me, just a few days into the new year, came from Oil Painters of America,  informing me that my submitted paintings had been reviewed and accepted! I am honored and delighted to be part of the prestigious association dedicated to preserving and promoting excellence in representational art. This will motivate me to give my best to my progress in oils, and I’m looking forward to connect to other artists throughout the US.

There are some other news I will be able to share after a short trip to Washington state this week. Also, the shop function will be set up again in a couple weeks and you will be able to obtain high quality giclee prints of your favorite paintings as well as the original artwork (in urgent cases just email me).
Don’t forget to follow my instagram – anstaylorart – to see new paintings and art, work in progress shots and videos, which I am constantly uploading. Give me your feedback! :) and talk to you soon!

 

Oil portrait painting studies

It’s all about oil!

Hey there again, if you have been following me on instagram (@anstaylorart), you might have noticed that there’s a lot of oil painting going on lately. I have been taking oil portrait classes since fall, and have recently visited a figurative oil painting studio group (painting live from a model), which I plan to be frequenting on a regular base now. What challenge, and also fun, to try to capture the features of a model in the short intervals between the breaks! Not to mention the exchange with the other artists.

All of this has enforced my love for oils… which had already been my favorite medium this last year: finally I’m able to keep paints and canvases in my own little space (moving from continent to continent with the military did not provide many opportunities, e.g. since oil paints are classified as hazardous materials and won’t ship overseas…). There’s another workshop coming up, and I have been able to increase my hours reserved for painting. So… I hope you like oil as much as I do. Give me your feedback in the comments! And follow me on instagram at anstaylorart, if you haven’t done it yet.Oil portrait painting studies

Kids art at the Prescott gateway mall

Kid’s art this Saturday at BLOOM boutique

Sat Dec 2nd, 11-4 pm: Join us for our Art Saturday at the BLOOM family Boutique in the Prescott mall! I’ll bring my local Prescott Xmas cards, kid‘s cards, prints and some original art, along with my easel and an oil-painting in process :) Watch and ask questions, and get yourself some unique Christmas gifts  :)Kids art at the Prescott gateway mall

I have been excited about this event: it gave me an excuse to prepare and paint some colorful children’s illustrations. Sometimes there’s just not enough cute and quirky in my daily art :D Please come by and say Hi. Use the opportunity to snatch some of my local Christmas cards, if you haven’t made it to the Ian Russel gallery on the square yet, get your custom animal portrait order in before christmas, admire and shop the amazing selection of kid’s clothes and things at the BLOOM boutique. Support your local artist, and see you at the Gateway mall, Saturday Dec 2nd 11-4pm!

#prescott #bloomboutique #localartist #prescottaz #prescottvalley #prescottevents #childrensboutique #buylocal #prescottkids