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About Sarah Taylor – Contemporary British Wildlife Artist based in Cumbria, UK

 

Bio

Sarah Taylor is a contemporary wildlife artist based on the western coast of the English Lake District. Her distinctive graphic style plays with the juxtaposition of geometric pattern and fluid marks, to create an engaging and lively painting that still retains a sense of realism.  

Sarah has a degree in photography from Nottingham Trent University and is clearly heavily influenced by her earlier career as a graphic designer and illustrator. Sarah exhibits as a wildlife artist in galleries around Cumbria and southern Scotland and has work in private collections in Europe, Australasia and the United States. 

 

Sarah:

I have tried, over the years, to talk about my work for the benefit of fine art galleries and high-end art prizes and always ended up sounding pretentious and false. I hated talking about my paintings in that context because I knew they didn't really fit into their expectations. Although I love nothing more than a visit to a contemporary gallery; soaking up some amazing ideas, I have always known that my paintings are not deep and meaningful. You would have to search long and hard to find the concerns behind my images and issues that are dealt with between the first splash of ink and the trails of geometric pattern.

I think it is pretty clear to the viewer that I love painting animals, and you would not have to employ Sherlock nor indeed Hercules P to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that, as a wildlife artist, I am mostly inspired by visual treats.

I LOVE intense colours
I LOVE making patterns
I LOVE blowing ink
I LOVE making splashes
I LOVE bold colour combinations
I LOVE animals

I LOVE finding the personality behind the eyes of these creatures, but I also like to laugh at myself for thinking I can understand what they are thinking or for the stories I imagine they would tell me. It is not inconceivable that they are all thinking something other than where the next meal is coming from, but they may not have the human traits I like to give them in my mind.

What I also know is I LOVE painting animals for people who love animals. I am blown away by how people connect to my paintings. Because of this, I am quite at ease that there is no deep meaning behind my work. Bold, contemporary paintings for unapologetic animal lovers. I am more than happy with that!

Please sir, could I have some more?
This doesn't happen very often, but I challenged myself to give you a little more and to delve deeper in the hope that it gains you some insight into Sarah Taylor the Wildlife Artist and what makes me tick.

What is it with the intense colours then? - You know what, I have tried a few times to use a more muted palette. I really do enjoy the occasional muted painting, but every single time without fail, some brightness just cannot help escaping onto the images, and before I realise what I’m doing the violent pinks and oranges are back with a vengeance.

Why do I blow the paint around? – I find it takes away an element of control, it makes me loosen my grip on the shapes within the painting and relax. Some of my favourite paintings have benefited immensely from a splash that went wild or some ink that I spilt. 

 

Why do I blow the paint around? – I find it takes away an element of control, it makes me loosen my grip on the shapes within the painting and relax. Some of my favourite paintings have benefited immensely from a splash that went wild or some ink that I spilt. 

The patterns, on the other hand, are very controlled, I love neat and precise lines when I’m adding geometric detailing. I don’t really have a plan, the patterns evolve as I work, reacting to the splashes and other shapes around them. The geometric shapes are a medium for bringing out highlights and shadows and are a great opportunity to have fun.

A lot of my customers say what they love about the paintings hanging in their home, is that there is always something new to see within the painting itself, little details that they hadn’t seen before.

I tend to feature the animal head-on, facing the viewer. This style of composition feels more like a human portrait, which brings the animals onto an equal standing. We get more of a connection with the eyes in the painting, and that is where I start to get to know the subject better. I spend a lot of time painting the eyes as it is crucial to me that they look extremely realistic and deep. This means that when the painting is hanging in your home, you become great friends as you get the feeling that the character in the portrait is watching your every move.

You know what question I get asked a lot? “Can you tell me how to paint eyes?” and my answer is always the same.  Painting eyes is the same as painting anything; you have to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Eyes are not the shape you imagine, and what we see is a mixture of shapes, tones and reflections. I paint loads of layers when I’m working on the eyes, to bring out the depth within them.

My painting process goes something like this:

  • Prepare / Sketch / lay-down base colours / splashes / layers of colour / splashes / building 3D form / splashes / patterns in the shadows / eyes / eyes / eyes / eyes / highlight patterns / splashes / patterns / patterns / patterns / finish.
  • Patterns, patterns, patterns, finish.
  • Sign / smile.
  • Pick up paintbrush / more pattern, finish.
  • Go on then, just one more geometric detail. Finish
  • OK Done.

The finishing process can take a while, haha. It’s easy to keep adding details, but the trick is knowing when to stop, and to this end, I employ the use of a small mirror. When you look at the reflection of the painting, you’re seeing the image through different eyes and you just know. It works without fail every time! 

 

A Wildlife Artist's Studio Time

A small out-house in our garden plays home to my painting space. We transformed the dark and dingy building with 4 extra Velux windows in the roof for natural light, tons of white paint to cover the orange pine, a reclaimed floor from an old school gymnasium and a vintage drafting table salvaged from the old British Steel design office.  

The final touches to ensure fluid painting time include a hairdryer hanging above the desk, a GoPro set up for time-lapse video above the painting, a music system connected to my iTunes, and a yellow chair. Frankie the cat claimed the yellow chair immediately, so I have to make do with the cat bed. 

 

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