Annie Taylor – Artist

Annie Taylor is currently represented by  Courcoux & Courcoux in Stockbridge, UK and has been making art full time for the last 5 years. Her web details are here…



Annie in the studio © Annie Taylor 2010+

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I work in oil on canvas, mostly large format 1 metre +, although I am trying to control this urge! Smaller paintings definitely get more house room.

Artist’s statement…
I have been passionate about the natural world since I was very small. My work is about that passion: not just the silence, the peace, the nurture for the spirit that the countryside can provide, but also its opposite face which can be harsh, threatening and wild.

Patterns in different landscapes have also intrigued me and guided my work, from the gentle, rolling patchwork downs and fields of Dorset in England, to the rugged, harsh mountains of the countryside where I live in France, these patterns have helped me to find my painter’s ‘voice’.


Red Mountain, oil on canvas 60 x 76 © Annie Taylor 2010+

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a series of paintings looking at mountain summits. I have lived surrounded by mountains for the last three years and it is only now that I am beginning to find what I want to say about them.

How important is art for you?
Art has always been essential and central to my life and since becoming a full time professional artist I find that painting is actually vital to my daily existence.


Le Canigou, 100 x 100, oil on canvas © Annie Taylor 2010+

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I started painting when I lived in America for three years. Together with a friend, I opened a studio and art gallery on the North Shore of Long Island. The studio enabled me to study and work alongside established professional painters. When I returned to the UK with a daughter to raise, the financial pressure was on and so the brushes had to be put aside. I started a PR and event management company in London and specialised in film, theatre and television representing clients at the Cannes Film Festival for a number of years.

In 1990 I moved out of London, back to my roots in the West of England and started producing large outdoor festivals.

Finally, when daughter Beth went off to Art School, I was really envious! The temptation to get back to painting was overwhelming and in 2003 I took the decision to work at it full time. Initially I studied with Dorset artist Clare Shepherd, receiving a grant from Arts Matrix to work with her in a mentoring scheme. I have now been working full time as a painter since 2005 and have exhibited in one woman and group shows in London and the South West of England.


Giant’s Head, Oil on canvas 102 x 76 © Annie Taylor 2010+

Is there any one thing, which has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
My first exhibition was a three woman show in a gallery near Bath and to my amazement I sold 9 canvasses, all for pretty good prices. Invitations from other galleries followed. Since that time I get a huge buzz from the letters and emails I get from people who buy my work and contact me to tell me how much they are enjoying it.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I grew up in the countryside in the south west of England, a place surrounded by woods and fields where my childhood was spent building tree houses and splashing about in streams. Even now I find I am most at peace outside and trees in particular continue to hold a very special place in my heart, they feature in a lot of my work.


Blithe Spirit, Oil on Canvas, 90 x 60 © Annie Taylor 2010+

Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think that “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?

Actually, I think if you aspire to be a really good artist I wonder whether you ever really arrive at that point? I think it is a never-ending journey. I suppose there have been a number of paintings along the way that I call my ‘gateway’ pieces where I have found something that seemed to move me on, but I am always hoping the next painting will be the ‘really good one’ and I hope I will always feel that way!

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Yes my work has changed a great deal – that is inevitable if you are painting nearly every day. The work has a much more confident feel to it now and I am ready to hold my head up among my peers. I know I exhibited far too early in London when I was offered a solo show right at the start and I do hope people who saw it then will come back for a second look now I have moved on so much.


Morning on Breeze Hill, oil on canvas 102 x 76 © Annie Taylor 2010+

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
No, not always and I suspect there are very few artists for whom it does. But I discipline myself to get into the studio every day, no matter how I am feeling and if necessary I will spend days just drawing until something occurs.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
I think it is very important. It saddens me every time I see young artists who feel that sensational art is all that is necessary. I can’t help feeling they are missing out on one of life’s huge pleasures – perfecting and honing a skill, training the eye, knowing that you are getting better and better as time goes by.


Meditation, 100 x 75 © Annie Taylor 2010+

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
No I love it. I really work well if I have a deadline or a goal in sight.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists”, post educationally, is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Rubbish! I could cite many examples among the artists hall of fame, but frankly if I thought that was the case, why would I be driven to work at getting better?


Edge of the Downs, 102 x 76 © Annie Taylor 2010+

Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
I did have a really bad few months last year. I simply could not get inspired and everything I tried seemed to fail dismally. I just kept at it, drawing, re-working old canvasses, returning to familiar subjects to see if I could find a new approach, but above all I kept up with other artist friends and arranged to meet two of them on a monthly basis for a joint studio session. We looked at the work of different artists and at each other’s work, painted together and went out sketching. Then I tried a number of new approaches to how I was working and that gave me the impetus to get out of the slump.

Do you go into any contemporary art prizes, if so why?
I am just beginning to look at this area. I feel ready to put my work forward for competition now and I think that selection for a recognised show should be part of the marketing mix which will hopefully lead to opening more gallery doors.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.

The internet is obviously an essential marketing tool these days and huge numbers of artists now have websites, facebook pages, blogs, etc., I have had my website from the start 5 years ago and have largely used it as an instant ‘portfolio’ of my work and I have also managed to sell a few paintings via the site as well. However, there are issues around the easy infringement of copyright that are beginning to concern me more now.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
I work from life and imagination. I may start a landscape en plein aire, but prefer to take it back to the studio to allow my imagination to come into play as I am not particularly interested in photo realism. As I am exploring the use of glazing I often work on several canvasses at the same time in the studio.

How do you establish your art work prices?

I’ve written two blogs on this very subject and have had some interesting contributions from fellow artists:

Tough and resilient, soft and fragile?

Nature has these opposite qualities, which, as I have said, is what attracts me to trying to capture that in my work. It is what has driven me to paint, but it is no good just stacking up finished canvasses in the studio, they have to be sold. The art marketplace is vastly over subscribed which means that trying to make any sort of impact requires dedication and persistence. I have had to be tough and resilient in my life, but this career as an artist is different in one important respect, it exposes the soft and fragile side of me: every time I show my work I am vulnerable. Exhibiting exposes your soul and puts the ego at risk – it is like dancing in public in the nude!

All Annies works are Copyright 2010+

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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New work ideas – Steve Gray

Having moved house I am in the process of creating some new works, doing my bit to explore working in a new space and wanting to explore notions around landscape but with the intent of tackling surface and to some degree patina. I mixed a small batch of  acrylic and forged on.

I have been acutely aware of the surrounding landscape and skies, with the view over our back fence on to a simple but very interesting area. (Those who check out my Facebook images will see what I mean.) I have purposefully worked in a near black print look as a starting point, to get away from my recent “White on White” Pastel look which hit me strongly about the time of the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria.

It seems odd somehow, I would want to create some imagery which is more akin to obvious fire remains than the white works. but these are more like sketches to explore some possibilities and options

Here’s a link to earlier works this month.

Now the newer offerings, again Acrylic on A3 Heavy watercolour Paper.










Tony Curran – Artist

Tony Curran is an Australian Contemporary Visual Artist  who has a website, a blog and a long list of credits to his name, from a Bachelor of Science to a Masters of Art (Drawing). Tony specializes in “neuro-aesthetics”, stereoscopy, visual design and psychoacoustic research.

self portrait front

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
My work has a philosophical message about the fine line separating the personal world and the “real” world

What are you currently working on…
I’m currently working on a project titled Aural Dynamics for an residency at Fraser Studios in Chippendale. It involves inviting the public to my studio and modelling their left ear for me while I draw it. I’m hoping to reach 300 ears by the end of my residency in August. These ears will hopefully be on exhibition after that.

I am offering a free ear portrait after the show to anyone who sits for AuralDynamics. People can contact me on my website to arrange a time.


Why are you an artist?
I was finishing up my Psychology degree at Macquarie University and studying Perception Psychology at the time. I began to draw certain concepts in perception theory and this started to take on a wider role of the intricate layers of image making and reading from the realistic to the abstract. Now I’m working quite cross-disciplinary and the spectrum from abstract to realistic is intuitively blurry.


How important is art for you?
Art is my profession and everyone needs a profession. Art also tells us people are trying to improve, whether it is to improve the world by making beautiful objects or even just improving their own ability or craftsmanship. Art gives me focus and self expression, but it can be addictive.


Your art education was…?
I completed my Masters of Art (Drawing) from the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. There I studied anatomy, life drawing, animation, sound design and really expanded my practice immensely. In my last semester I was awarded a travelling scholarship to participate in a residency in Edinburgh with Richard Goodwin’s Porosity Studio and the British Council. There were a bunch of other students from all kinds of disciplines including Fine Art, Architecture, Design, and Landscape Architecture, Photo-media, and New Media.


Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Definitely helpful. It pushed me in all kinds of directions and really showed me there is always a way to make the work, which is in your head.


Is there any one thing, which has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
Finishing my degree and seeing my work as a Finalist in the Mosman Art Prize a few weeks later was a big rush.


You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
When you have a visual art.


Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?
These happen all the time and unfortunately I can’t develop all the creative ideas. I try to write them down or blog about them as much as possible but sometimes I just have to let them go and think about what I’m working on now. They’re often powerful and make me want to can everything else.


Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
Art is something you develop over a long period of time. The art can be traced through the works you make but is not a painting per se. Art lives within the art object but is not the object.


Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
I try but I find it difficult to maintain my own ideas and thoughts when I do. It’s best for my artistic development to stay away from other art exhibitions unless they are a friend of mine.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
Yes and no. Working toward an exhibition tells you, you have a lot of work ahead of you but the end of the show tells you, you can slack off for a little while and recover.  In some cases a long recovery is warranted

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
A rolling stone gathers no moss. I wonder if it’s the same in another profession. I finished my Psych degree in a cohort of hundreds but I wonder how many of those have fallen into a similar lifespan. I’ve always thought any career you choose is going to be a hard one – that’s life. After Uni you start at the lowest rung of the industry and try and make sense of whatever life you’ve chosen. With art it might even be easier because secretly everyone wants to be creative but not everyone has a secret wish they were more into finance. Maybe that’s just me.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I initially set up my blog to do this but I never find the time to use it in that way. Also I discovered my blog gets a small audience, so I decided to develop it with the audience in mind. I kind of have a visual diary but I usually have about 5 going at one time. They are all different sizes and I work on them based on where they are in my proximity and how easily I can carry them around at the time.

What happens to works, which “don’t work out”?
They hang around my house gathering dust.

Do you aim to break the rules of basic composition, layout etc or do you ignore the “rules” and just create?
I have a very intuitive process at the beginning and if I don’t like the work I determine whether its compositional or not and look through all the rules. At this stage it can always be edited or remade. Sometimes I love what I’m painting so much and it turns out it’s because I’ve broken a rule.

About significant moments in your life, the sort of things that changed things for you forever… perhaps altered your Art… Who how why what and where…?
The suicide of a relative was the kick up my ass to go out and make the most of my life and do what I wanted to do. The suicide of a different relative was a kick in the heart for me which killed me artistically for a bit but then ultimately defined my practice around levels of awareness as measured through sensation and sanity.

Is your Art, “Art for art sake…” or a matter of “Art for commercial viability?”
Both, I think Art can be pushed around in lots of directions from the commercial world most of those directions are probably destructive. It is the role of the artist to fine a good middle ground between artistic integrity and commercial viability because if you can develop it like that, then your art will be better than it ever was.

How has your mind-set changed from struggling to find your own style to solidifying what you are doing today?
Makes me less impressionable with other artists’ work but it also makes me able to appreciate good work when I see it. Once you have your own art practice you are happy with then you can become an audience of other art practices and not a student or critic so much.

Was there a point where you decided: OK I can live off of my art?
In 2006 I had a dream where I took off to Barcelona with no money and drew things and sold them like a busker to get food etc. When I woke up I went to work in a very crappy retail job and decided screw this: Somehow it will work.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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John McLaughlin – Artist


John McLaughlin Painter, you can check out his website at

John is currently listed with online galleries: Busacca Fine Art Gallery, San Francisco The Brigham Galleries, Nantucket Ma. and The Robert Kidd Gallery, Birmingham Mi.

What fascinates you? I always have been fascinated by the way sunlight strikes objects. Both indoors and out. How quickly it moves and changes. The different colours of light from the early morning until late evening right before sunset. I am enthralled by the different emotional response it evokes. I can watch the sunlight like most people watch TV. I guess I’m easily entertained.


Your art education was…? None. I am a completely self taught artist. I’m not proud of this, it’s just I never had any desire to take art classes. I don’t know how art can be taught. All one could do is give support and supply materials, otherwise it would just be to encourage someone to be themselves.


What or who inspires your art? I get my inspiration most from nature. I love hiking and observing all the flowers and trees. What we do best here in Michigan is grow things so we have an abundance of trees and plant life. I also am inspired by other artists work that I see in museums, books, magazines and on-line art sites. I learn from and study many artists but some of my favourites are Matisse, Twombly, Doig, Klee, DeKooning.


Creative streaks do they come in waves for you? Creative streaks do come in waves for me. Although I make my small drawing/collages everyday, my larger work can take longer time periods between applications. Suddenly I get this creative flow and energy, then go at three or four canvases at a time for hours. Four or five hours seems to go by like twenty minutes. When I am done I feel completely exhausted, like I’ve just run a marathon or something. It sometimes takes a day to recover. Working like this from my subconscious, I often don’t remember making parts of my paintings.


How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation? I think craftsmanship is needed only to the extent of what the artist has to “say”. If stick figures suffice for the meaning you want to convey, then that’s all it takes. If your portrait needs to look like a Rembrandt then you must do a little more practice drawing.


Do you have much contact with other artists? I have almost no contact with other artists. I have a severe hearing loss so I spend much time alone. Hence the web name drawing hermit.


Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that? I don’t know who came up with that but it’s totally wrong. Artists can make good art for 1 year or 100 years. Some masterpieces where made when an artist was 20 and some at 90. We’re all different.


If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why? I would take “The Window” by Henri Matisse. And this so happens to be at the Detroit Institute of Arts so every few months I go to visit it and regain inspiration. The incredible thing about this piece is that it is technically “wrong” in every way—color, perspective, composition, the furniture is even missing some pieces. But this masterpiece works perfectly.


All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had. I struggled the most with finally getting my work “out there” for people to see. Being a self taught artist I lacked the confidence until a friend of mine finally convinced me to quit throwing work away and start submitting it to shows. I’m better now.


What happens to works that “don’t work out”? Many of the works that don’t work out go to the trash bin. But I believe I do learn something from each piece I do. I’m by far my own toughest critic.


Do you aim to break the rules of basic composition, layout etc or do you ignore the “rules” and just create? I often try to break the traditional rules of composition. I don’t know if it can be done successfully. I believe I ignore most of the rules—I don’t think I even know most of them.


Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you? I love free form jazz. It makes my mind think differently. I often listen to this while I’m working although after, I never remember hearing any of it.


What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer? I would say (or hope) my work needs to be studied over a period of time, long looking. Because the drawings and marks are small my work doesn’t photograph very well. They are better appreciated in person, up close.

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished? I have a constant challenge knowing when work is finished. Sometimes even before I send out a sold painting I am adding marks. I often see sold work years later that I wish I could change. It’s just the nature of the way I work.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you? I don’t like titles but I use them for identification, it gets too confusing otherwise. Some of my titles refer to the art work while others have nothing to do with it. The name just pops into my head. It’s funny that some people will have a whole different idea about a work of mine than what I do but that’s ok, I would never tell them differently.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work? The best compliment I ever got about my work was overhearing a woman at an exhibit say about one of my pieces, “I really like this painting but I don’t know why”. I thought that was perfect.

Have you had much connection post sale with purchasers of your works? I sell a lot of work each week to gain more recognition and the response from my collectors is incredible. To correspond with people all over the world like this makes it all worthwhile.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist? “Art and Fear” by Ted Orland and David Bayles is required reading for any beginning artist.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours? This is absolutely so with my work. If not then I have failed. The longer you live with my work the more you will like it.

Is the making of art all it was “cracked up to be”? I think art and artist are the most misunderstood subject of our time. I really wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Almost everything is going against you right from the beginning. From rejection to no income to criticism to being overly sensitive, when do the good times come? Artists have to do what we do, it’s who we are. I have a theory as to why many artists succumb to drugs, alcohol, etc. It’s because the sensitive antenna is always on—it’s great for creative making but there is no way to turn it off. This harmfully helps to turn it off awhile. To the general public the last thing we need is misunderstood art and strange acting artists.

Sociable and out there, or withdrawn or intense? Sociably withdrawn, shy and definetly out there would describe me quite well. I can’t help it.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Check out our other Art Site Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Contemporary Visual Artist Interviews

How many Contemporary Visual Artist Interviews have there been to date… Heaps! With more to come thanks.. but for now here are some to check out.

Teachers and students, remember there are worksheets you can use with each of these and other interviews on the site check out some here. If you make some of your own please, send me a copy so I can share them here.

Beth Nicholas


Kelly Feil


Stefan Gevers


Kendall Nordin


Sophia Hewson


Leisa Rich


Amanda Boekhout


Paul Lorenz


Chris Sedgwick


Peter Tudhope


Pete Nawara


Ursula Theinert


Connie Noyes


Dan Wollmering


Kerrie Warren


Werner Theinert


Peter Biram


Margaret Zox Brown


Annie Taylor

Tony Curran

John Mc Laughlin

A fresh set of works – Steve Gray

In this series of works I have worked with subtle acrylic colours and kept the palette to a minimum. It’s very hard doing white on white photo’s, so please forgive the colour cast/s

Size is A3 on heavy water colour paper.










June 2010 – Steve Gray – New works

I found myself tackling some new works the other day, I was torn as to which way to go… Follow an older line of work, create anew and head towards a more patina’d effect, both or.. no stuff it, it’s in a new work space so I thought. time to give some things a try. Older image but almost a reverse, more black than white, so here they are…

Works on paper, Acrylic wash and paint.

Are they figures dancing, trees burning, lost souls aching, me being me, darkness becoming light, knowledge being free, none of the above…





The interview Steve Gray