Monday, February 13, 2012

The Second Time Around…


New Beginnings oil on canvas 48"x48"
by Lawrence Taylor
There was a period in my life when I didn’t mess around with oil paint – or any art materials for that matter.

A good part of my adulthood was spent working as a public relations consultant – a fairly creative field, but mostly marketing ideas and writing. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona in 1996 that I took up painting. But making art was in my genes: my mother was an artist, and my brother is a professional sculptor. In Arizona, I had more free time, and so I started to learn about painting. Sixteen years later, painting has been a focus of my life!

I asked the staff at Wilde Meyer if there were other gallery artists who also had a previous "artless" career. Here are a few, and in all cases, it seems that the desire to pursue art has always been brewing.

Labra Duo oil on canvas 24"x30"
by Connie Townsend
 As a child, Connie Townsend loved art. Her parents allowed her to paint murals on her walls and build a club house in her back yard. Although these skills would serve her well throughout her life, Connie could be the poster child of non-artistic early careers!

For a short time in the early ‘70s, she worked as a service station attendant, where she learned basic car maintenance. She spent her work breaks sketching the vehicles parked at the shop, with a keen interest in the VW Bugs and Vans.

You can see Connie’s love of cars and dogs in many of her paintings, such as "Labra Duo" and "K9 Taxi."
 
Color Me Lovable oil on canvas 30x30
by Connie Townsend

K9 Taxi oil on canvas 24x36
by Connie Townsend

Then, in 1980, she moved to Flagstaff where Ralston Purina hired her to drive a fork lift, loading trailers and box cars with dog chow. No time for art, I would guess! By 1990, she had enough of hard labor, and took a course in screen printing.  One month after the course, Connie left Purina and opened her own company, "Outrageous Tees Custom Screen Printing". That’s when her artist side began to show.

She started noticing the graphics on t-shirts and began to visit local galleries and art exhibits. She enrolled at the community college and started oil painting and was instantly hooked. A large painting entered in a show at the Coconino Center for the Arts received public acclaim, and the sale of that painting got Connie thinking that perhaps she could make a living as an artist.

By 2001, she had enough confidence to approach galleries both inside and outside of Flagstaff. Her art was well received, and she is now a full-time artist, calling her new business Blue Collar Art Works.

One of her paintings is currently on exhibit at the Sky Harbor Airport in a group show. Arizona became a state 100 yrs ago on Feb 14. In honor of that Centennial, 60 artists from across the state were chosen out of 572 submissions. The show is titled "Arizona Valentine". And my piece is "LUV AZ" 20" x 40" oil on canvas. The show is up 'til June 17 terminal, level 2.
LUV AZ oil on canvas 20"x40"
by Connie Townsend
 
Roses Near the House oil on canvas 42"x72"
by Lawrence Taylor 

Lawrence Taylor spent 20 years as a financial executive for a Fortune 500 gold mining company. "When I was growing up, you were trained to have a career that could earn you a living," he says. Although he studied finance in college, he also took electives in fine art and art history. Whenever he had the time, once he started working, he took classes at the San Francisco Art Academy. 

 Then a series of personal events occurred that motivated Lawrence to make a life change and do what he really wanted to do: create art on a full-time basis.

The Winding Steps oil on canvas 40"x50"
by Lawrence Taylor
In 1980, he took a trip to England and Wales. As a member of the British National Trust, he was able to visit and photograph many private gardens throughout the countryside. "Nothing in North America compares to these gardens," he notes.

Now, Lawrence makes a trip to England every two years to visit more gardens that have been turned over to the Trust. It’s easy to see the influence of these beautiful environments in his paintings: "English Gardens X" is a 42"X72" work that takes the viewer right into the space, ready to walk down the curved path. "Roses Near the House" is another large painting. Here, bright red flowers jump to life against lavender in the foreground and the misty English landscape that recedes. Winding pathways and artful paintings of flowers are recurring themes in Lawrence’s work, seen above in "New Beginnings."

England Gardens X  oil on canvas 42"x72"
by Lawrence Taylor

Sanctuary at Purgatory Chasm 60"x40" acrylic on canvas
by Acacia Alder

The beauty of landscapes also inspired Acacia Alder to change careers. Although she has always been involved in art – she was a jeweler for 10 years - the move from Ohio to Tucson had great visual impact.

Summer Aspen 18"x18"
by Acacia Alder

The large vistas she saw during hikes in the area caught her attention, and she became fascinated with the details and structures of plants as well. "I’m interested in how things weave together – the relationships of the things I see," she says.

Aspen Snow Shadows 18"x18"
by Acacia Alder

Acacia has studied drawing extensively, and that medium comes through in her acrylic paintings, such as "Sanctuary at Purgatory Chasm."

She has a delicate mark making that is very distinctive, and shows her love of the locales she visits. Aspens are a favorite subject at different times of the year.

I think we’ve all been extremely lucky to be able to pursue our passion for art in the second part of our lives. It gives us a new appreciation of our surroundings, lots of energy and a wonderful way to express ourselves. What a gift! 

Aspen Trail acrylic on canvas 48"x60"
by Aacia Alder