While initially, it may seem that there is little in common between four Dachshunds, the canals of Venice, and the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, it all makes sense to watercolor artist Jan Taylor.
Taylor, who has traveled on every continent, paints what she sees, and while she is devoted to one artistic medium, she allows herself the freedom to paint any subject, from safari animals to florals, from antique still life to portraits of Dachshunds which Taylor, by close association, knows are rarely still — or quiet.
“We own three and a half Dachshunds,” Taylor says, her own voice expressing wonderment at the quantity. “One of them is a cross — he doesn’t care, and he thinks he’s quite superior to the girls.”
The “girls” are Lucy, Debbie, and Scarlotte; the mutt is Oliver Twist because he was a foundling, and all four have been featured in paintings by Taylor. Lucy was painted on a cloud with a glittering necklace adorning her neck (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”); the entire menagerie found itself in “The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux,” a whimsical nod to primitive cave art that caught the eye of a collector in Coeur d’Alene.
Apparently, Taylor is not alone in her attraction to small, self-confident, yappy (her own observation) animals, as every painting she has created of Dachshunds has found a happy owner.
“I’ve never had more than one dog before,” Taylor muses. “It’s out of hand now. But my husband is a willing perpetrator of it because you couldn’t do it otherwise. Who else would put up with this?”
Acknowledging a love for whimsy, Taylor incorporates a sense of fun and quirkiness in many of her works, but true to her style of not limiting herself to a style, she explores worlds and vistas that reflect life around her, wherever she happens to be that day: her floral works are bold and audacious; her view of Venice channels the viewer between buildings converging into one’s space; three tepees in a meadow acknowledge the artist’s ability to create stories from their surroundings.
“I believe that artistic expression is the fun part of life,” Taylor says. “When I like a work I’ve created, it’s a joy to me, and I hope to others as well.”
Taylor comes to the art studio from what many would consider the completely opposite world of business and computers, having taught 30 years in community colleges primarily in Spokane. Upon retirement, she took up drawing and painting, just . . . because.
“I can’t talk about some interior drive where I had to express myself — I just started painting for fun.”
She educated herself through college classes and private workshops, benefiting from Spokane’s ability to attract top teachers.
“There are nationally known people who travel through, who have television shows and things like that. One of my favorite workshop teachers was Lian Zhen, an international watercolor artist from China.”
Since moving to Richland two years ago, Taylor has thrown herself into the local art scene, meeting regularly with fellow artists from the online cooperative, Cyber Art 509 (cyberart509.com) started by Tri-Cities artists Patrick and Patricia Fleming as a means of connecting creative people in the 509 area code region.
“I have a lot of fun with these people, and we get together a couple times each month. I get to see their work, and that’s inspiring.
“About 20 of us get together and paint and critique and have demos.”
With 30 years of teaching behind her, and extensive exposure to art classes and workshops, does she lead some of these demos?
“Oh no,” she demurs. “I do not feel that I have an art education.”
The niceties of distinctions aside. Taylor is a student who continuously teaches herself, and she treasures the hours she spends in her 500-square-foot home studio, replete with all the counters and storage an artist could want, as well as a grand, east-facing window which bathes the room with light.
Oh, and there are the doggie beds, because that is where Lucy, Debbie, Scarlotte, and Oliver love to be.
“If I’m in the studio, they’re in there too.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.
Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.
This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.