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Seven Paintings in Seven Days

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In 2016 I was the proud recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Regional Artist Project Grant Program. After researching, purchasing and practicing with materials–various mediums and varnishes, and brushes, I decided on a project that would separately show the results of each medium used: linseed oil, walnut oil, stand oil, dammar varnish….blah blah blah…paint terms that only an art geek like me would get excited about…

I decided to produce seven paintings in seven days. It was also serendipitous that I had that week off from my job so I could focus on painting only! Needless to say, I was absolutely in heaven.

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7in7 in process

I played with the idea of being more open and obvious about the narrative. The paintings were about Jeff, my fiancé who chose to leave this world through suicide. I’ve often debated about how obvious I should make that in my work. The objects, colors, and numbers of things in my paintings are almost always significant, intentional. But should I come right out and say/show Jeff’s name or his likeness? Also, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to paint a realistic portrait of him, despite his death having occurred over four and a half years ago now.

And then this little troll morphed into Jeff before my eyes. And I found myself smiling as I painted this one!

love-7in7
love

Look familiar?

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Halfway though the week I went to see The Women of Abstract Expressionism show. It was fucking fantastic, standing in the midst of these wonderful works by Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning, etc. I wanted to stay there, step into the canvases, into their worlds. But more about that in a future post. Anyway, I was excited to paint some expressionist works again and decided to make the last two of the seven abstract.

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Here are the finished #7in7 which I will probably end up working on more–more layers in the abstracts, more colors in the shadows of the still life, more brown in that moth, more frayed threads sticking out of the bare spot below the bear’s eye…..

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Fabulous easel and supplies made possible with support of the North Carolina Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Regional Artist Project Grant Program. Have I mentioned I am a grateful recipient!

119 in Dog Years

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Ever had that faithful friend who was so in-tune with your feelings, the quiet companion who just watched you, followed you around, sat by you if you were feeling bad, was ever-ready to join in on your playful mood. That was Shep – a black lab/shepherd mix we found as a puppy.

Someone had dumped him and three puppy siblings out in the country. They were living in a drain pipe next to the railroad tracks. That was almost seventeen years ago.

Fox and I drove by and saw them. I immediately pulled the car over and two of the puppies bounded over to see me. Shep was a little more shy. And then the last puppy was too scared to even come out of the drain pipe. We had to come back later with something to bribe her out with.

We took the four puppies home and immediately fell in love, knowing we couldn’t possibly keep all four! Shep was the one who followed Fox around. Fox, my son, was almost two years old at the time and he and Shep were pretty close in size. Shep was the one who chose us. And we fell in love with his warm brown eyes and his temperament  – playful but not too wild, precocious but not too troublesome, attentive, and so darn sweet.

Shep and the boys quickly became inseparable. All three would lay on the carpet in the living room watching cartoons. Shep learned to tell time by Nathan’s comings and goings – the early morning rush to the school bus and the afternoon walk down the street back home after school. Shep would watch by the window and always greeted us at the door when we came home. He was a constant presence, a comfort. For almost seventeen years.

Shep was a member of the family. And yesterday we sat with him as a family and said goodbye. His eyes now old and slightly cloudy, his muzzle gray, we talked to him and petted him while he quietly slipped away.

Now there’s a gapping whole where he once occupied our lives. Rationally, we know that dogs can’t live forever. He was 119 in dog years! But our hearts are broken.

Farewell, Shep.

December Featured Artist at Tattoo Revival in Winston-Salem

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December showcases the artwork of…ME… at Tattoo Revival on Trade Street in Winston-Salem, NC. For this show, my still life paintings combine with self-portraits of my tattooed flesh with vintage-inspired tattoos curtesy of John Slater – artist, tattooer, and owner of Tattoo Revival. It’s a collaborative show, in a sense.

Here’s a sneak peak of some of the details…

The Opening Reception is during December Gallery Hop in Winston-Salem, NC on Friday, December 2nd, 7pm to 10pm. Gallery Hop is always a fun and festive occasion! And I’m doubly excited to be showing my work and hanging out with the awesome human beings at Tattoo Revival. 

Tattoo Revival is not just an awesome tattoo shop,  it’s also an aspiring art gallery. They participate in Gallery Hop every month and highlight a featured artist every month. (As you probably already know if live in the Triad.) They are a great (fairly recent) addition to the arts district – a warm and welcoming shop with friendly staff, creating a kind-of hybrid business: tattoo shop/art gallery that highlights the fact that a good tattoo starts with a good artist, legitimizing the idea of tattoo as art form. I sound like an ad but I love that place!

 

If Toys Could Talk

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Little wondrous things.

I like to paint them.

dolly

Sometimes big. Sometimes small.   clockmoth

gyro                           woodendoll

troll    Little trinkets and toys.

key

Where have they been?            clown

 

space

 

acro

If they could talk….

cherub

 

 

 

**Details from my paintings. To see the entire paintings go to My Work page.**

 

 

 

 

I’m So Much More…

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MySweetMagical-KellyLTaylor

Everybody loves this painting. At least I’ve never heard any negative feedback about it. Apparently, the rich colors and the energy draw people to it. A couple of little old ladies were enjoying it one day and remarked on the amount of “depth” in it. I just stood there trying not to giggle. The label only revealed part of the title: I’m so much more…

The whole title is: I’m so much more than my sweet magical pussy

A feminist rant in response to a time when most men who approached me only pretended to be interested in my talent, my intellect, what I had to say before promptly hitting on me. A time when, to some, I was not much more than a booty call. This was disappointing to me, to say the least!

As I stood before a blank canvas with all these frustrations overtaking me, I scribbled the phrase with a heavy black oil stick. Then I started applying the color over it. And several layers and days later, I was content with this finished product. Even though I was slightly embarrassed to show it at first.

With all the recent talk about the word “pussy” (one of my favorite words, by the way) I thought it apropos to include mine.

 

It’s just a clown. 

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I like clowns. I like old dusty clowns found in yard sales, just sitting there among the random left over objects. Clowns that aren’t intentionally creepy but for some reason still freak people out.

Is it something about the fake emotion in a clown mask that doesn’t match or successfully mask the real emotion or personality underneath? Is there a name for this phobia? Yup, some call it coulrophobia but it’s not officially recognized in psychology.

Clowns, or sometimes parts of clowns, find their way into my paintings. I don’t intentionally paint them to look scary, I just paint them how they are. It’s fun to watch people react the way they do and to ponder why.

 

 

 

What do I reveal? What do you see?

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This painting, Miss Kitty and the Not So Cheerful Cherub, is currently in an exhibit in the gallery at Friends Homes Guilford, here in Greensboro, NC called “Our Brush With Tales – An Interactive Exhibit with Five Artists and Two Storytellers.” At the opening the storytellers preformed the stories they created inspired by, or in response to, the displayed paintings.

Miss Kitty and the Not So Cheerful Cherub - Kelly L. Taylor

When I submitted this painting for the show I wondered what the storytellers would see. It was interesting to hear the stories that were told around my painting. But it was almost as if the act of storytelling, the performance, was more important than the story or the actual narrative of the artwork itself.

(You can come up with your own story, if you like, before you read on!)

One story was told from the point of view of the objects: about a bad kitty who harassed all of the objects or characters. The clown, troll, stuffed toy, and cherub were all carefully described along with the hideous acts that were perpetrated on them by the mean kitty. The books on the shelf were described in detail, including a recited poem from the pages of The Cheerful Cherub, as if the storyteller actually opened the book and read it.

The other story was about a reminiscing mother who comes home after dropping her son off at college. She walks into the son’s bedroom and sees the shelf, just as it was left by her son as a child, and describes these sweet, cliché memories of his childhood. And I thought, really? Does that really look like a shelf that would be in a child’s room?

I wondered what the storytellers really got from my painting – if their initial impressions differed from their presented stories, if their stories were censored in any way, or if they were so puzzled by my painting that they had to invent just semi-related stories.

The exhibit includes printed versions of the stories that were told along with the artists’ own statements about their particular painting.

Here’s what my painting is about…

I survived Jeff’s death. We were planning to be married. The morning I found him hanging peacefully, finally free of pain, my whole world was shattered. But I understood. I accepted. That didn’t make it hurt any less. I grieved. And I painted.

I fell in love with Jeff’s things the day I met him, his belongings an extension of who he was. We both had an affinity for old, sometimes obsolete items. He taught me to appreciate things as we found them – usually worn and covered with dust, loved and left behind.

After Jeff’s death, I continued to cherish his things. I looked to them for answers, for comfort. I continued to collect things in his absence. I combined these things to tell our story – various still life scenarios in oil paint like this one: an abandoned stuffed toy sits on a shelf next to his books, daisies wilt in a sunny yellow vase, little troll and clown smile as if remembering a happy time, a silly cherub plays with a noose on his ankle, and a moth hovers briefly, visiting.

On Saturday mornings together we would go scouting to rescue vintage and antique treasures from yard sales and estate sales. These things surrounded us in our studio and in our home. Many would find their way into Jeff’s artwork. Now they find their way into mine.