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Innate Innovation – Christine Taylor

Artists’ Corner presents: Christine Taylor

 Photography by Dan O’Connor and Jim Scheiner

Nostalgia and a potent memory allow Christine Taylor to recall the moment that her artistic ability unlocked. At six years-old, she came upon a painting of a costal scene with coconut trees and light glinting off them.

The depiction revealed the intricate contrast of the sparkling, white light and dark shadow cast on the individual leaves. Mesmerized by this complex, three-dimensional effect in the picture, Christine questioned “How would I paint that?”

In her infant mind, she believed that her desire to replicate the sophisticated artistic appearance was the normal thought process of a child…

With a memory as particular as this, testifying to the unique and quirky minds of artists everywhere, Christine heralds the theory that creative arts are innate abilities. “I think you’re born hardwired – it’s a deep passion,” she said in reference to the joy artistry has granted her. “When you have that passion, it gives you life, you’re never bored – it keeps your youth,” she added, speaking of her childlike anticipation in painting.

The watercolour artist who was born and raised in Barbados, arrived in the BVI with her husband and three children over twenty years ago, describing that her life here has been a mixture of, “Mom, homemaker, cook, scrub, everything…I’m homemaker/artist.”

She initially started sketching and drawing when she was six and continued developing her skill as she matured. She attended art groups and read books that assisted proficiency in her chosen art forms, acrylic and watercolour painting.

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She described the difference between the two styles, revealing that, “Acrylic you can paint on canvas and it’s permanent. You can wipe this with a cloth and it won’t budge. Watercolour…has to be under plastic because this is not fixed permanently. If you wipe the cloth on this, it would come off – the colours not fully staining will lift.”

Christine ran through the techniques in her art discipline that develop with experience and when employed, will dramatically improve the aesthetics of a piece. Shading, dabbing/lifting, splattering, scratching, creating perspective distances and producing a three-dimensional effect are all abilities that take practice. “It’s one of the hardest mediums to master,” said the artist when expressing the challenges of watercolour art.

“It took me five years plus to be able to do it properly. You can tell when someone is a newbie in watercolour.”

Delving into the art world professionally—relaying that she paints almost every day and is self-taught—her fascination with history and culture also serve as impetus for her paintings; art that reveals a Caribbean world that is very different from the islands we know today—full of daily activity like farming, fishing and walking from place to place—a physically energetic setting.

“Visitors & residents of the Virgin Islands truly love Christine’s historical paintings, and they are proving to be quite popular by collectors of Caribbean art,” said Lisa Gray, owner of Images where Christine’s work is showcased. “Her paintings are being added to private collections in Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Europe and the USA.”

A huge turning point in Christine’s growing experience in the field occurred approximately 25 years ago, when she met famous Barbadian sculptor and painter Karl Broodhagen. Renowned for his three bronze public landmark statues of Sir Grantley Adams first premier of Barbados, the “Bussa” after the leader of an 1816 slave revolt, and legendary Barbadian cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers, he offered advice to the budding artist.

“You’re very good with your lines, and your colour is getting there,” said Christine paraphrasing the pivotal point in her artistic life. “But, your design is weak – you have to strengthen your design,” she said. “I went home feeling crushed, but then in the morning, I got back up. I said, ‘you know what? He’s given you this jewel of knowledge.’”

With this guidance, Christine intensely focused on the intricate construction of her productions: “I put a lot of time into the design aspect of my work – people, objects, placement, even the way the waves come in,” she said pointing to a painting that depicts an isolated beach.

Her depictions range through portraits, animals and landscapes, attempting to capture the things that are familiar to her. With her paintings of the sea, viewers are privy to hearing and feeling the swaying of the waves by her skilled ability to depict movement on her canvas.

Ms. Catherine Lettsome – “She is a corner stone of Tortola population. She had 21 children - she was a vivacious, vibrant, creative woman and so I saw a little picture of her and was drawn to have to paint her…I like to tell a story.” - Christine‘Where is the light coming from?’ is another prominent question that arises when Christine considers the design elements in her creations, which aids the manifestation of motion in her work. In outdoor pieces, she will query the sun’s direction and its bouncing effect.

She summarised her emotion for painting in the idea of bringing the art alive. “You have to place a dynamic spirit in your work…I always paint the eyes first – once I get the eyes and the spirit of what I’m trying to accomplish, everything else is easy.”

Some of her images can be viewed at www.thegallerybvi.com/Christine_Taylor_Gallery and are also on display at Images Custom Framing, Wickham’s Cay II, Road Town, Tortola

Erin Paviour-Smith

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