Every artist is the sum of their experiences and influences: in our regular Spotlight section, we ask up and coming artists to share with us their process and their inspiration.
I was always drawing as a child, usually pictures of the things that interested me at the time. So plenty of sailing ships, trains, cowboys, Dennis the Menaces and caricatures. The greatest treat on pocket money days was a new black Bic pen and a pad of paper. Things changed overnight when unable to make a boat shape come right, I put a model on the table and drew it from life. The profound difference this made, and the fascinating business of creating an illusion of reality started me on a lifelong journey towards firstly making this illusion convincing, and then subsequently subtlety subverting it. My father had a well stocked book case including books on surrealism, British modernism, Japanese printmakers, Salvador Dali and annuals of Giles cartoons, all of which got digested and incorporated. With his support I gave up A-levels and went to Worthing Art School, and then Goldsmiths to study fine art for three years. After leaving I considered a career driving London buses, but inspired by reading a biography of the painter Mark Gertler I decided to paint for a year supporting myself working every evening in a pub in Greenwich. I did two paintings both of which were shown at the Royal Academy. When both sold, I gave up the pup job and have continued to do one painting after the other more or less without a break since.
Not being a landscape painter, very little really. Having said that, the Dorset landscape where I live is littered with Iron Age burials with their associated grave goods, and this has certainly informed some of the poses and accompanying props in a number of works such as Portrait with Grave Goods.
Also, finding a Victorian rubbish dump being eroded into the sea while fossil hunting gave rise to a whole series of still lives of broken, discarded and modern fossil-like everyday objects.
That varies from time to time depending on what I'm attempting to achieve, but in no particular order: Vermeer, Stanley Spencer, Velazquez, Francis Bacon, early Lucian Freud.......Girl with a Rose of 1948 was in one of Dad's books and I never really got over it....... Fra Angelico and strangely the cartoonist Carl Giles, who's wonderful manipulation of perspective taught me a huge amount.
I would say probably the Girl with a Rose by Freud for it's stillness, intensity, controlled distortions and just it's very strangeness. It is quite clearly based on a real person but the rigour of the observation has pushed it somewhere very disturbing.
Mostly techniques that would be familiar two hundred years ago. These have evolved over millennia from cave painting onwards to service our seemingly primal need to create a 'likeness' and are very effective. By this I don't mean likeness in the portrait sense, but the need to create or possess convincing recreations of the things we need, we fear or that we love. This of course includes traditional portraits, but also inventive manifestations of deities, or convincing depictions of food or prey.
While mostly working from life, I do employ stereoscopic transparencies to assist in the studio and have had to invent and build suitable equipment. A good stereo large format slide contains a wealth of visual information about form and surface totally missing from normal photographs. This is particularly useful assisting with a portrait of someone too busy to give me the many hours I normally require.
My iPad mini plays a very similar role to the drawing pads and biros from my childhood and I love playing about on it, or including sketches or cartoons in emails. Indeed, this interview has come about as a result of sending fan mail to Scriba when I bought one of their stylus!
So far the only way I have used digital techniques professionally is to put photos of paintings I am working on into Procreate so that I can experiment with alterations to composition or tone without time consuming experiments on the actual canvas.
Most of my work has been studio based and is in private collections, but a selection can be seen on my website www.mrtaylor.co.uk
Quite early in my career I was lucky enough to win the National Portrait Gallery Award and this led either directly or indirectly to a number of portrait commissions which can be seen in various public collections including the NPG London, the Holburne Museum of Art Bath and the House of Lords. I am represented by the London gallery Waterhouse and Dodd and am a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
Finally, if you ever see the Wes Anderson film the Grand Budapest Hotel, I have to confess to being none other than the late Johannes Van Hoytl, creator of the much coveted, much travelled Boy with Apple painting. Very much a one off!
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