At home in the outdoors, South Pender artist creates a splash with her nature paintings

“Some people see a Japanese influence in her work while a Western vibrancy seeps through with her use of bright, primary colours, especially when she utilizes her favourite: red.”

April 27, 2015

A few years ago, I started to sketch. I discovered that I found it so energetically satisfying, even spiritual to sketch interesting places to which I travelled. In Stonehenge, I was perturbed by the fencing in of those huge, massive stones and distracted by the tourists snapping photos of each other and giggling as they mentally checked Stonehenge off their bucket lists.

It was when I sat down on a bench and began to sketch the stones that they in turn began to tell me their stories. I intuited, through my Third Eye, that the stones were placed and maybe even chiseled to represent people who lived in the community in which they were placed.

When I lived on Salt Spring Island, I did a lot of art modeling. One day, one of the artists asked me if I had begun to draw. She said this is often what progressed with the models. They posed for artists and they became them themselves.

It had never occurred to me. Yet now I believe my art modeling was a precursor to the sketching that I do now.

Probably interviewing many of the amazing artists who lived and live on the Gulf Islands on the West Coast of Canada and then writing stories about them also made me more and more interested in art until I began to draw.

Just as the articles document the artists and their work so do I feel that my sketches document the world around me as I move through it.

Here is one of those articles:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

May 17, 2000

At home in the outdoors, South Pender artist creates a splash with her nature paintings

by Tanya Lester

Susan G. Taylor’s paintings of marine life in black ink and watercolour are delicate yet bold. They are concise and at the same time detailed.

Some people see a Japanese influence in her work while a Western vibrancy seeps through with her use of bright primary colours, especially when she utilizes her favourite: red.

Her work is available as original paintings and as inexpensive printings on cards.

Balance comes to mind when I look at Taylor’s art. On an emotional level, this certainly appears to be the case.

“There is no activity that makes me happier than this,” said Taylor, who sometimes signs her name as S.G. Taylor so she can stand out among the horde of Susans and Taylors in the world. “I have never been so happy.”

Three years ago, Taylor decided to move to Sound Pender after she had tested the waters for a change in lifestyle. She left Vancouver and a full-time job doing labour negotiating at Simon Fraser University to paint on a regular basis.

One of life’s transitions was happening with Taylor’s identical twins heading off to university in Ontario. (Catherine is now a mechanical engineer graduate at Queen’s University and Julia is in computing and mathematics at the University.) This opened the door for Taylor to do something different.

Her  days on the Penders are harmonious with nature and especially anything to do with water, her favourite element.

Mornings begin for Taylor with an ocean walk. This can be followed by four or five hours of drawing on location, which for her is always close or even in the water. She likes nothing better than sitting in a skunk cabbage patch with crows chattering around her as she draws that marsh plant; or perching in a tide pool and drawing  seaweed and jellyfish on her watercolour paper.

Water has always attracted Taylor, who swam competitively in her past.

Her new studio, which is part of her home on South Pender, is named Blood Star after one of her favourite species among the many that she artistically documents in the ocean’s intertidal zone between low and high tides.

The blood star’s splashy red colour also attracts Taylor because she has a particular affinity for this hue — so much so that feet sporting red nail-polished toes sometimes sneak into her drawings like little trademark caricatures.

Taylor’s red-painted toenails, in turn, attract nature. Hummingbirds swoop down and peck at them if she is not careful.

Another part of Taylor loves burrowing away in the Pender Library where she looks up details about her marine life subjects. To draw a horsetail and know that this plant existed some 500 million years ago  during dinosaur days adds joy to her work. Suddenly, the species is elevated above its often ignored place as something that grows in the swamp at the side of the road,

Taylor also enjoys the support she has received from people on the Penders.

At the Pender Island Market on Saturday they drop by, bringing friends with whom her work has been discussed.

Taylor shares a space there with her partner and artist Frank Ducote, who displays his driftwood carvings of fish, crows and  other critters….



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