The coming of winter sure puts me in the mood for chai tea, puffy coats and bonfires. The change of a season is a wonderful thing, and I’ve found a piece of art that perfectly conjures up this mood: SPIRIT (fire) by Douglas E. Taylor.
I happened upon Taylor at his Vista Galley on that first crisp day in late September. Though I fluttered around the entire eclectic collection — including the special multiple-artist exhibit celebrating the gallery’s 17th anniversary — I literally felt moth-like around this piece; it just drew me in. It wasn’t just the subject matter that struck me; Taylor’s multi-medium approach of combining various printmaking methods with collage and acrylic painting (up to a dozen layers) lends a rich yet mysterious texture to his works. Iridescent and iridescent interference acrylic paints, visible only at certain angles, take this a step further.
‘I use interference paints to convey the idea of what I witness in nature of water, the sky or aspen leaves trembling,’ says Taylor.
‘I try to create that sense of animation.’ Indeed, I wasn’t just jonesing for that bonfire to come alive; I felt that it was.
SPIRIT (fire) is just one element of Taylor’s oeuvre that celebrates the natural world. ‘My work pertains to natural themes, and it always has,’ Taylor says. ‘That’s where my real passion is.’
It was only fitting then that Taylor was invited to create an installation piece for last month’s Trail and Vistas art hike. ‘Douglas’s paintings have the movement of the earth’s elements, especially wind,’ says Nancy Tieken Lopez, Trails and Vistas founder and artistic director. The event’s Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center location inspired the use of three horses in the performances scattered throughout the hike’s three miles. Taylor’s take on the equine, Mostly Wind & Spirit, an 8-by-10-foot masonite and fabric triptych suspended between two trees, was truly a treat to see in person.
‘It captured Trail and Vistas’ theme—Terra Caeli (Latin for ‘earth sky’)—with beauty,’ says Tieken Lopez, ‘the horses running along the earth, while the wind patterns of swirls connected a creature of the earth to the movement of the sky.’ Additionally, the piece’s snapshot effect of capturing certain parts of the horses conveyed the animation and abstract tendencies often found in Taylor’s work.
‘I used to do more photorealism in my paintings and drawings,’ Taylor says, ‘but I want to say something you can’t see—make present the unseen, the spirit of subjects.’
As you can imagine, Taylor’s paintings, like nature, are best when experienced in person. Taylor is a common fixture at his Vista Gallery in Tahoe Vista, but before too long, he’ll be spending more time at his home studio as he’s put the gallery on the market to focus on his art full time. Be sure to stop by to see Vista’s 17th anniversary exhibit, which runs through the end of October; 7081 North Lake Boulevard, Tahoe Vista, 530-546-7794, vistagallery.com.