death

Whoosh….

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Sometimes it still hits me. Like out of nowhere. I think of him, I feel him. My heart stops for a second. I remember he’s gone.

Five years later and still.

I wonder if that will ever stop. But I don’t really want it to.

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Jeff Taylor, maker of wondrous things, May 2012

The shirt, in process

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The shirt. His shirt. The shirt he wore the first time I laid eyes on him. The time I fell madly in love with him, when I felt as if I’d found something I’d been looking for all my life. When I stopped looking and it walked in the door of the gallery with a big warm smile, carrying a newly finished sculpture. I think I stopped breathing

 

The shirt in process-KellyLTaylor

 

the jacket

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He was beautiful and brilliant and funny. That jacket still feels like him. Even though it’s gone through the wash. I can’t wear it. It feels too heavy.

 

jacket-kellyltaylor
Jacket, oil on canvas, life-sized

 

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.

Replication – The Moth

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I’m sitting here at Delurk, the artist-run gallery in Winston-Salem, NC working my Sunday afternoon shift. As I look at this painting of mine hanging on the off-white brick wall, bathed in warm light, I think about how it came to be.

I was at a place where I was unsure of my palette, and what textures I wanted to paint next. I was in the studio on a warm spring morning, just messing around with paint, when Jeff walked in, on his way back in from having a cigarette out on the loading doc, cradling something in his hands. He held it out to me and said, “Look what I brought you…!”

I peered into his outstretched hands. It was a moth, with soft powdery wings of various browns and beiges, slow, on the verge of death, too tired to fly away. I gasped at the beauty of it. He gingerly set it on my table next to my easel, patiently waiting while it stepped off his fingers and onto the edge of a book.

THE moth

I was mesmerized; It was gorgeous! I studied the lines, the colors, the textures–warm beige fading into dark dark browns and dots of soft powdery white. I stepped up to my easel and palette and began mixing the colors I saw on the moth. I applied them to the canvas, smoothing and blending, and scraping off at times. 

replication in process- kellyltaylor

The next morning the moth was dead and gone when we arrived at the studio but I continued working on the painting that was inspired by this beautiful, magical creature and the wonderful man who brought it to me.

“I think it’s done,” Jeff declared a couple weeks later when I stepped back to evaluate my work.

It was May of 2012. It was the last painting I did before Jeff’s death.

That spring and summer I saw more moths than I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was like they came to visit me silently in our studio, sent there magically somehow by Jeff to let me know that everything was going to be all right.

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