Month: September 2015

A Luminous Pause–A Journey Through Life and Death and Life

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The Three Graces, oil on canvas

I’m having so much fun meeting and working with the folks at the Friends Homes here in Greensboro. It’s a retirement community, based on Quaker principles, full of the coolest retired professors, artists, and authors, most still active in their crafts. As the administrator joked about me being a new resident, I thought of how nice it would be to live there.

When I was asked to do a show at Friends Homes, I was surprised at the work that was chosen. Shame on me for assuming our retired friends would want to see typical soft impressionist landscapes and simple still life paintings. After previously hearing such feedback as: “Your work is too dark; I could never sell that.” and “Oh, That’s kinda crazy…” I’m always surprised when my work is embraced.

As we curated my paintings, a few people examined my work as they walked by, some even laughed, as if they got my private jokes. (Very Cool!) When I stepped back and looked at the combination of paintings that were chosen–some darker, brooding expressionist abstracts, along with some still life paintings from my thesis work regarding Jeff’s suicide, and some lighter abstracts and still life paintings from when things started easing up–I realized this combination of works comprise a journey, through life and death and life.

may 2012 - Kelly L TaylorThis is work completed in May of 2012

I wonder why some people don’t see the light in my work; it’s always there, like when you look up at a cloudy sky and you know, you feel, the blue sky and the sunshine behind the clouds.

The opening reception for the Friends Homes show, A Luminous Pause, will be on the afternoon of Friday, October 2nd when I’ll do a short talk and present my artist statement for the show which goes like this:

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

                                                                                                                                               ― C.G. Jung

I make paintings–curious objects combined with abstract elements, emphasized by light and shadow. This collection represents a story of great scope, of life and death, a journey through dark grief, while looking toward the light.

Conjuring the melancholy of past desires, abandoned objects ask me to paint them shadowed by the lives of the people who loved and left them. Embodying triumph and tragedy, the objects are all that’s left of those who have gone on. They remind me of what slipped through my hands, a magnificent life no more. They are the last vestige of stories lost once voice is stilled.

Some things just make me smile and beg me to play, like wooden dolls, a vintage firetruck, and a telephone you can’t keep your hands off the dial. I paint those, too.

Navigating the chaotic currents of life, I reach for acceptance, move forward while learning to embrace the mystery of reality, the uncontrollable, the inevitable, and the joyous.


Hello? oil on canvas


Patience and Process and Painting with Oils

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replication-KellyLTaylor copy          samsara - Kelly L Taylor

They say you need patience to paint with oils. “Oh, oils are hard,” they say. “You need to use dangerous chemicals. It takes too long to dry. It’s easy to turn it all into mud.” It’s all worth it to me. I start a painting, set it aside, let it dry some, work on an alternate painting, go back to the first one…

The first time I smoothed oil paint on a canvas it felt so natural to me; Previously I had been working so hard (with various mediums, water, utensils, etc.) to make acrylic paints do what oil paints do naturally. I found a medium I truly loved to work in. It felt so good. I wondered why I waited so long to try oils. Why had I been intimidated by something new?

My abstract process consisted of layers and layers of paint mixed with various amounts of cold wax medium, adding, scraping off, revealing things beneath, getting lost in the magic that happens in texture and color interactions, light and shadow. But somewhere around the middle of a painting it would start to feel like hell. The painting would come to a stage where it just looked and felt horrible. Each time I had to remind my self “This is your process, remember? Move through it. Just keep working.” And eventually I would come out the other side feeling good about the painting, loving what was happening on the canvas.

Metaphor for life? For the inevitable darkness we need to trudge through sometimes? Maybe that’s why I’m good at this painting thing. I’m not sure where I got the courage to face the scary stuff, to know I needed to go straight through it, to confront it, to keep reaching toward the light, in order to persevere.

appartition-Kelly L Taylor