Time Travel is never easy…

…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). At least painting full time when it was possible. My self imposed rule #1 – was “to live for Art, and not live off Art.

Denis Taylor Greek Studio work
Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf. Greece

…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). At least painting full time when it was possible. My self imposed rule #1 – was “to live for Art, and not live off Art.” – which sort of boxed me in, as I still needed to earn a living. This I did by working in a variety of jobs, writing articles and catalogues and selling the occasional canvas to interested parties, or taking on commissions, but only when someone asked me.

Somehow, years later, I found myself ensconced on island called Aegina. The island is close to Piraeus (19 kilometers) and thus Athens, where I could buy (piecemeal) oil paint, when I had the money, for Art supplies that is. It was here that I confronted the age old enemy of creatives – Ego – And it was here that I defeated it, albeit with the help of an invisible helping hand, which many people call their God. Unlike my home in Northern Europe, the Greek belief system was strong, and it would be unnatural for any creative not to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds them. The outcome was work which, up to then, I had never envisaged painting. This was linked to an incident, one that is too long to explain here, but let me just say, a miracle occurred that saved my life.

Oil painting by Denis Taylor 1993
“Stoned” painting created on Aegina island.

Time passed and my collection of paintings grew. Eventually I met my future wife, on another island, where I had accepted a commission to paint ‘Walls’ for a Greek friend who was setting up a ‘Rock and Roll cafe on Anti-Paros, a very small island in the Cyclandic’s. This chance meeting led to a Gallery exhibition in Stockholm (1995) and another one in the same year, before I knew where I was I had several shows, created a ‘radical’ group of mixed media Artists and curated, designed and participated in three major exhibitions, one of which was a commissioned [non paying] job for the Swedish Government Estonia Trust Fund and the International  Support Group, that one took over four years to complete [sic: Heart 2 Art- Stockholm January 2002]. And all the time, keeping to my #1 artists rule, I was earning a living doing other things [in the UK] remotely or directly.

Almost twenty years later, and now an artist in the Grey hair sector, I and my wife could scrape together enough time and money to spend a month on Aegina [July 2018]. And, as luck would have it, we were able to take my ‘Greek-Niece’ up on her kind offer to stay at her family home – which just happens to be above my old studio from all those decades ago. Hence the ‘time travel’ headline of this post.

Denis Taylor English Artist, Writer and Exhibition Curator
Studio 4 – Aegina island Greece

The studio had not been lived in or attended to for some years (my niece no longer lives there) And nature had began to take the place over. I resolved to spend the cooler mornings and late evenings bringing the place into ship shape. Mainly because I couldn’t bare to see it in that condition, and I wanted to ‘feel’ what I felt when I was a much younger artist, how I’d grown and developed in comparison, which was insightful. I recalled every single canvas I had painted there, in that place, the struggles, the ecstasy of a breakthrough and the disappointment of failure. I remembered the people, those characters who became more than close friends, now most of them, passed to the other side. At the back of the house I found my white plastic chair, and another for visitors, who would sit with me to discuss the painting I would have been currently working on.

I was time travelling, inside my mind, as I doggedly swept and moped, and swept and moped again and fought the weeds that had embedded themselves in ever crack and cranny. My human form bled salty water from every pore in its body, to cool itself down, but my mind was far to busy ‘travelling back in time’ to take any heed or warning to rest up and drink water.

At the end of all this, my voyage ended with a realisation of what I had actually achieved in Art per se, despite my rule #1, or because of it – And a truly personal sadness, that I could not share with them, that their high expectations, ones they were convinced that I could achieve in Art, had been.

So, ‘Time Travel’ is not easy – for many reasons – but I am sure it’s a trip everyone takes at some point in their life, the good, the bad, the tears the happiness. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Denis taylor Artist and Writer - Aegina island.
One evening the sky talked of the past

posted and written by Denis Taylor. Artist and Writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TUBES magazine – Dave Traves writes about the paintings of the Editor

read free on line…click here

TUBES international art magazine

featured artist in issue #8 Shaun Smyth

issue #8 publishing at the end of April.

Painter and art teacher – Shaun Smyth has been documenting the amazing construction of the Mersey Gateway Bridge with some stunning paintings. “A Bridge So Far.” the title of the article written by the Editor of Tubes, gives the readers of Tubes magazine the inside story how the bridge was made through an exceptional talented artists eye….not to be missed. issue #8 – publishing at the end of April

Denis taylor Artist and Editor of painters Tubes talking with Shaun Smyth about his paintings of the Mersey Gateway Bridge
Tubes editor talking with Shaun Smyth in his Studio about his paintings of the Gateway Mersey Bridge. Photograph: ©DaveTraves/Tubes2018

Can artists write about other artists much better than non-artists?

Tubes magazine. Can artists write about other artists better than non-artists?
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.

As the Editor of painters Tubes magazine and a full time artists for 30 years, I have found that writing about other artists (in my case painters) gives me a sort of insider knowledge of how artists process their work, from both intellectual and physical angles. When interviewing other artists this special understanding forms the basis of our conversation(s) and helps me to get to the ‘pip-of- the-poodle’, as they say in Sweden. Little time is wasted on talking about the contingencies of painting- say, the choice of paint, the type of base preferred (board, canvas etc). Nor do I waste interview-time making a list of their education background, academic or art competition gongs, or any other ‘list’ that are usually intended to impress prospective buyers or potential representation of galleries.

I find that four to five hours is required to fully examine and get to the bottom line of the artists real reasons for living life an artist. What it is that drives them and provides the impetus to continue with ‘needing’ to create something original and authentic – This is often more complex than most people realise. Total confusion on the ‘why’ to create at all, is always that empty space that manifests itself as the struggle felt, as is the overpowering ‘need’ to gain not only recognition of ones peers, but also from total strangers, art agents or art galleries who may wish to actually purchase or value the work. Separation of the conscious ego from the subconscious creative mind remains an issue, as it has always been.

My conversations with artists helps me to confront some ‘hidden-agendas’ head on. ‘How to survive as a full time time painter’, for example, is often talked about, or rather, how difficult that is to maintain in the 21st Century. “Too many artists, not enough space to exhibit”, frequently comes up in ‘chats’ as an irritation, as does the gallery bias for one type of art over another or the ‘lottery’ of being singled out on the www for acclaim. Social Media addiction is always a problem for artists, especially for those that post every single brush stroke they make for the world to admire, i.e. “here’s one I started this morning..” type of post- (unfinished ‘updates’ of art is one habit that I personally abhor). 
Some writers of art prefer to ramble on the aesthetics of this or that work of art, using words that simpler descriptions would suffice quite adequately. And whereas that ‘academic way’ is probably a very 20th century way of writing about Art, it is still utilised today to avoid discussing the real practical issues facing painters. Or indeed what their Art is really ‘all about.’

The other difference, I have found, as an artist interviewing another artist is, I am truly interested in how a work or series of work came about, not in any ‘journalistic’ way, but as a fellow artist who experienced similar ‘awakenings’ or insights. It is also not that difficult for an artist who interviews another artist to quickly spot an ‘image-maker’ from an artist who ‘works’ to develop their Art rather than simply live off it.

For me, as the Editor of an Art Magazine, one that is devoted to ‘paintings and painters’ it seems clear that I should be looking to encourage other Artists to start to write about other Artists. If I am lucky enough to achieve that aim – I honestly think Art in general will be the better for it…

Denis Taylor Artist
Denis Taylor Artist and Editor of painters Tubes magazine