Karl Taylor – Artist Interview

Karl Taylor has recently returned to Carmarthen. He graduated from Carmarthen Art College, receiving an award for outstanding achievement in wildlife illustration and design. In 1992 he became the first wildlife artist to exhibit at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. He was raised in Penzance, Cornwall and grew up amongst the fishing communities. Spending most of his time combing the beaches was the catalyst for his interest in the natural world. By eleven, Karl was a “budding ornithologist.” Having spent many years observing birds and other wildlife, much of Karl’s art reflects his long held interest in how they successfully exist alongside man.

AWARDS and ACHIEVEMENTS 1996 Wildlife Art Society – Winner of Evegate Award for most innovative approach to Wildlife. 1998 Artist Magazine, Nature in Art Award – First Prize. 1998 “Birds in Art” Wisconsin, USA. 1999 Society of Wildlife Artists – RSPB Fine Art Award. 1999 “Birds in Art” Wisconsin, USA. 2000 Wildlife Arts Society – Silver Medal for Excellence. 2002 “Birds in Art” Wisconsin, USA. 2005 “Birds in Art” Wisconsin, USA.

‘On its way, Little owl’
  • Firstly, how did the lock down affect your work.

    Well I’m at my partners in Brechfa with my son and daughter and her two daughters which is better than Carmarthen!
    She has a polytunnel that I’m using which has a great light but not to good in the hot sunshine so I wait for a few hrs when sun settles or on an overcast day.
    But better still I’m getting the chance to do more sketching!! There are a lots of interesting and exciting birds here – Inc water birds like dippers, kingfishers, mergansers, sand Martins, sandpipers and the lovely wood warbler! And birds of prey in the surrounding woods. I love the rivers and the woods with trees cloaked in mosses and lichens, our very own rainforests!!
  • Where do you get most of your inspiration?
     like I’ve said it’s great being here out in the countryside, I do feel connected! But I am attracted to man made things. Guess it’s the birds contrasting with textures of metal that I like, and almost always have the bird as a guest to the surrounding drama.
‘Wheatear and rusty chains’
  • Do you prefer to work outside /in your studio/mixture of both?
    both really but I am in studio most of the time, I find the pressures off, not so much of work, but daily life demands preventing me from do more sketching and photography but I manage.
  • Do you have a favourite painting that you have done? If so which one?

yes I piece called Prop’. It is 14″”x, 34″ and depicted a wagtail sitting on a large propeller (which was cemented to the Dock wall in Bristol) . A striking and dynamic work, and was accepted into the famous Birds in art exhibition/ competition in the USA. I’m afraid I don’t have an image to hand. Also a piece called’ Ammas chandeliers’ which depicts an Indian Crow pair moving through large chandeliers.
I was struck by the contrast of the thief like birds among the gold, grandness of the chandeliers. Amma translates as ‘Mother’.

‘Ammas Chandeliers’

  • Where / or what is your favourite place/ subject to paint?
    Anywhere really but I am drawn to the coast esp, harbours, estuary and lagoons.
    I love wagtails, their colours suit my work, not to bright or colourful. Also sandpipers and owls. Row Boats with cormorants and or other water birds.
  • How do you find titles for your paintings, does the idea come before or after?
    Some come easy others not and usually come after or during the painting though I may have an idea at the beginning. When I paint a variation on a theme eg A row boat with a bird, of which I’ve painted quite a few, ( I do enjoy painting them, the atmosphere and reflections) titles can elude me.
  • Who’s your favourite artist, artists, who have influenced you?
    As a child it was the work of Arthur singer who illustrated the huge ‘Birds of the World’. Those birds depicted on white backgrounds stirred my imagination. Also wildlife artists Charles Tunmicliff, Raymond ching and Swedish bird artist Lars Jonnson.
    And Andrew wyeth, the American realist, who’s World I loved and painted it in stunning water colours and dry brush techniques and who introduced me to egg tempera, a beautiful medium but time consuming!

But it was the work of famous Canadian artist Robert Bateman who had the deepest impact on me. It was not just the handing of his acrylics but his unique compositions which influenced me the most. I met him some years ago, a lovely and inspiring man!

Im attracted to abstract art esp the work of the expressionist American Franz Kline who’s large bold black and white works interest me. But I love looking at other artists work and find inspiration from local artists be it here or anywhere.
Music also inspires me, one aspect is that, for me, its almost always more is said with less!

  • Do you have favourite piece of art by another artist that you own?
       It’s actually a print by Andrew Wyeth called ‘Baracoon’ ( the original is worth £1000s! that’s me out!). Found it at a car boot sale ha! It shows a nude, Helga I think, with her lying with her back to the viewer, the light is stunning!
  • Do you listen to music while you paint!? If so what kind.?

   I’m also a musician, a guitarist and in a band playing rockabilly and the learly 50s R&B so I’ll sometimes listen to that. But I also love to play and listen to south American music and baroque, esp bach and scarlatti. Sometime with volume turned up!!

  • What could you not do without in you studio?

    a heater to keep knees and feet warm!

  • What does your studio space look like?
Home studio

Karl in his poly tunnel studio
  • How do you feel your work has changed over the years?

      when I first started the emphasis was very much more on the birds and traditional looking but around the year 2000 it started evolving into what it is now.

  •    Is there a particular time/place or movement you feel influenced you the most?

I was mostly influenced by the realist wildlife art movement during the 80s and 90s

  • What other work have you done apart from being an artist?

     I used to do temporary jobs when I left school. Now I’m a part time musician and am waiting to take my 16 seat bus driver test for the school run hopefully by August, virus permitting!!

  •   What is the best thing about being an artist for you?

To paint how I see see my subjects and the world around me. And I absolutely love painting the detailed textures.

‘Goldcrest on wood’

  •       Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Yes from an early age, dinosaurs, ships, planes, and then birds!

  •       What sort of painting are you working on at the moment?

Just almost finished a stone chat sitting on artichokes.

‘Stone chat on artichokes’
  •       What is your favourite medium to work in and why?

Acrylics. They dry quickly which means you can over paint immediately, rub or sand out and there is a wonderful clarity to them that I love.

‘Swallow on a street light’

To see more paintings by Karl Taylor – Click Here…