Fool's Paradise // Exploring With Sound by Taylor Adams

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Recently I've been thinking a lot about the relationship between color and sound, and how music can affect the state of flow. That's why I was excited when I was asked to create the cover artwork for my talented friend Dante Frisiello's Debut EP, "Fool's Paradise."  Working with sound as the inspiration was an intriguing concept to me and one I was eager to explore. Dante had no preconceived notions of what he wanted the cover to look like, his only request was that I listen to the music and let that be the influence.

When I begin a painting I usually don't preplan or sketch. I try not to get too attached to any particular vision of what I want the piece to be because quite often it takes on a mind of its own - changing and evolving into something entirely new, often several times before it is complete. 

I played the tracks as I gessoed my panel, paying attention to the texture and rhythm of the sound. As I laid the first marks I followed where my hand led me, pulling colors I felt compelled to introduce to my surface and letting them find their place among swirling pools of media.  

After several layers of marks I masked the painting with a neutral tone in a manner that may have appeared I was going back to square one, covering up everything I had worked to build up. However, in masking what I have established on my panel I am able to explore the history of mark upon the surface. I build up layers and break them down. Then in building them up once again, I rediscover little gems of texture and movement and give them new life. 

The final stage of my process is measured and meticulous.  With the sides of my panel marked at even intervals to guide and ensure straight lines, I begin with a single thread wrapped tightly around my panel. One by one, thread by thread, I compose a structure of fibers upon my painting. Each line is informed by the previous one. They find their place naturally and rhythmically to bring a new layer of structure and meaning to the surface.

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I was drawn to the rhythmic nature of Dante's music and felt the rise and fall of the melodies mirrored my process in a unique way. Building up, breaking down - a balance between organic and controlled movement. I truly admire the ability of musicians to compose a form of art purely with sound, and was honored to give a visual interpretation to what Dante has created. 

Dante Frisiello is a 24 year old law student. He has been playing and studying guitar for 10 years, and the "Fool's Paradise" EP is his debut release. Find the full album here and follow along with Dante's music on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @dantefrisiellomusic

West Coast Weekend // Scenes from San Diego by Taylor Adams

Sometimes I spend my entire weekend painting in the studio, and sometimes I venture out to travel, explore, and collect new sources of inspiration.. And on these occasions, sometimes I get lucky enough to score a $75 roundtrip to San Diego. 

California has been on my travel list for awhile now, and this trip was my first time ever visiting the West coast. I can say with certainty that it did not disappoint. The gorgeous coastlines and hilly cityscapes that compose San Diego were filled with a stunning array of colors that I couldn't get enough of. Brilliant blues, rocky neutrals, desert reds and golden oranges... an artist's dream.

It was a quick trip but we managed to squeeze in as much sight seeing as we could - stopping by La Jolla, Point Loma, Coronado and more. It left me feeling so excited to get back into my studio and bring a little California color to my palettes.

I can't wait to return and explore more of this beautiful state and its neighbors. Until then, here are a few of my favorite snaps from this West coast weekend..

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Creative Neighborhood feat. Rebecca Hinson by Taylor Adams

During a recent visit to Charleston, South Carolina, I had the pleasure of dropping in to visit friend and fellow artist Rebecca Hinson in her studio. Rebecca is an oil painter and illustrator with an eye for bright palettes and a whimsical touch. From fashion to coral reefs, she pulls inspiration from everything she loves most.

Rebecca's studio is as bright and cheery as her personality, and it was lovely to see what she's been working on in person and catch up over her homemade kombucha (seriously the best). Take a peak inside Rebecca's studio and get a behind-the-scenes look at her new series currently in the works:

To see more of Rebecca's work visit rebeccahinson.com  and find her on instagram @rebeccahinson to follow along with her current work and daily inspirations. 

A Sanctuary of Ideas // Philadelphia's Magic Gardens by Taylor Adams

I recently visited Philadelphia for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much inspiration I took away from the weekend. Simply walking through the streets I noticed a spectacular range of color - from lush greens and earthy brick tones to the dazzling mosaics and unexpected pieces of street art hidden around every corner, I was constantly stopping to snap a photo.  

Among this impressive range of color was of course Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. This visionary art environment created by Isaiah Zagar left me entirely fascinated.

On the vacant lots near his studio, Zagar spent years constructing multi-layer mosaic walls out of found objects. What began in the late 1960's as an attempt to beautiful the South Street neighborhood, these "gardens" grew into a space that not only helped revitalize the area then, but still actively inspire and encourage community engagement. 

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I prefer work that appears to come out of a changing focus.
— Isaiah Zagar
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From bicycle wheels, glass bottles, china plates, kitchen tiles, and fragments of mirrors... Everywhere you look there's something new to see, and something new to discover that you may not have noticed at first glance. Walking among these walls, you get the sense that they're truly telling a story. Conversations in color and form, every surface right down to the floor is a mapping process of Zagar's thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Through letters strung together tile by tile, anecdotes and personal narratives refer to fragments of Zagar's life. And all of the sudden you feel as if you may be walking through the grottos and stairwells of his mind.

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I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasties.
— Isaiah Zagar
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This intricate display of visual information creates an impressive space that allows you to be completely immersed within an artwork. It truly speaks to the accessibility of art, for something as ordinary as a bicycle tire can be transformed with a new perspective. I'm happy to know that places like this exist - I think it's important for people to be shown that art doesn't always have to be a painting on a wall. It can be a feeling, a place, an experience. 

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Creative Neighborhood Feat. Zakriya Rabani by Taylor Adams

In a world where I am constantly inspired by the creatives that surround me, both physically and virtually, I want to take the time to celebrate them and show you the great things they're doing. Creative Neighborhood is a video series exploring the studios, process, and inspirations behind artistic figures and their creative paths. 

In April I caught up with Zakriya Rabani, a friend and former classmate from our BFA years at the University of Florida. Upon walking into Zak's studio, I was greeted by dozens of skateboard decks strewn across the floor, stacked in piles, and suspended from giant rubber bands stretching from all corners of the room. Donated by the Skate Park of Tampa, these boards, considered defective and lifeless by many, are now playing a key part in the installation Zak is developing for his MFA thesis show at the University of South Florida. Growing up with skateboarding, Zak translates his experiences as a skater, athlete, and student through his work and invites his viewers into immersive environments that encourage play and speculation. View the video below to get an inside look into Zak's studio:

You can view more of Zak's work here and find him on instagram @flow_zak to follow along with his explorations and process. 

Color Collecting // A Study of Visual Interest by Taylor Adams

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As frustrating as they can be, creative blocks are part of the process. My ideas have been flowing smoothly from one project to the next for awhile now, so I was taken aback when I suddenly hit a wall. The strange thing was, while I felt like I had plenty of inspiration surrounding me, nothing was translating to my surfaces in the way that I wanted. Overwhelmed with an influx of color, texture, and movement, I needed to take a step back. I needed to reevaluate the 'whats' and 'whys' behind my current work, and as difficult as it is for me to realize at times, my mind can’t be working at full speed 100% of the time. It’s both natural and necessary to allow time to rest and refuel. 

Coincidently, around this time I was heading to New York City for a weekend wedding -  the first trip I’d taken in awhile without art supplies in tow. Oddly enough, the city that never sleeps, in all of its hustle and movement, gave me some clarity. 

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Walking around the city, I snapped pictures of things that caught my eye. Catching bits of color and compositions in a quick moment while en route to catch the subway or a bite to eat. The thing about taking pictures is you’re essentially documenting your visual interest. Whether realizing it or not, something in that scene speaks to you in a way that won’t allow you to pass it by without taking it with you. 

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TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog

As I looked back through my photos, I noticed a theme that carried throughout them. And as I unpacked my suitcase I saw it again, this time in the clothes that I had selected to bring.  Rich darks, grainy earth tones, leafy greens, soft neutrals, and pops of highlight were showing me the color palette I’d been looking for. 

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TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog

I went on a screenshot spree pulling pictures from my Pinterest boards and scrolling through the recent photos I’ve liked on Instagram… the palette was there too.

Printed and scattered around my studio, these photos will serve as visual references and reminders of what I aim to capture in this new collection of paintings. Sometimes ideas can present themselves in the everyday, but they’re not always yelling to demand attention. You have to remember take a step back and listen to the whispers. 

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TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog

 

 

From What I Remember // Reconstructing A Landscape by Taylor Adams

Whenever I step into the world, whether I am conscious of it or not, I like to think that I am cataloging everything I see and experience, and storing it for future reference. Every color, sound, and texture gets filed away, and all the little extraordinary moments too - the ones that are not easy to capture by camera or word. The way the wind whispers through tall grass or the softness of a mist of rain masking the treetops as it delicately falls to meet the ground.

Some of these moments get collected into folders - folders of places. The place with golden light, the place where the storms roll in, the beach I love most, the lake I grew up on..

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My sister and I took a walk along the road that leads to our family's house on Lake Keowee. Along this road a field expanse stretches up and tumbles down to chase the rolling land, and with it comes the sounds and colors of the lake I call home. Home to countless summers running barefoot and carefree.  Bug bites and fresh berries, burnt marshmallows and fireworks, sunsets and rope swings, waterfalls and secret coves, tan legs and red clay.  Add in spring with fresh blooms and sweet breezes, autumn with crisp leaves piled high in every color, holidays with pine trees and chilly air wrapping everything in a blanket of soft grey...

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All of these memories, all of these experiences are components of this place, right down to its soil and water. Hand-stitched into the fibers of the landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future. Filing them carefully into a folder in my mind, I carry each moment with me as valuable resource.

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Hand-stitched into the fibers of this landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future.
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So I take out this folder of memories, open it up and let it spill out its color and form onto my surface. Speaking in energy, breathing in color - my memories build a space that tells their story. They reconstruct the landscape from the silky waters of the lake to the rugged mountains in the distance, and every day that begins and ends resting upon their silhouettes.  

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"From What I Remember"
Thread, Ink & Acrylic on wood panel
11 x 14 in
This piece is available for sale here.

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Calmer Waters // Collaging with Found Media by Taylor Adams

One of my favorite ways to find inspiration is visiting the used book section of thrift stores. Among shelves packed with old books, I've found some true gems - Nature in Design, Surface and Structure: Contemporary Japanese Textiles, The Living Planet... just to name a few of my favorites. These books come packed with beautiful photographs that make the perfect content to pull inspiration from, and the best part is they're usually less than a dollar.

My work is created with a mixture of thread, ink, acrylic and watercolor on a cradled birch wood panel surface. Sometimes I'll work strictly with wet media to create the abstract painting beneath my threads, but other times I'll introduce another layer to the surface of my panel before picking up my paints. Tearing pages from my collection of books, I construct a collage with pieces of found media that catch my eye - fragments of lush forests, aerials of oceans, rocky cliffs and looming mountains. These various bits and pieces of the natural world come together to build one landscape on my surface.

After sanding down the collage, I apply a thin layer of white acrylic, masking it entirely. Once it dries, I sand it down once more, rubbing away at what I have covered up. It's a give and take. The translucent layer of white combined with sanding allows some of the original color and form to reappear on my surface. When I pick up my inks, this history of mark informs the colors I introduce to my panel as I explore which fragments of media to pull inspiration from. It's a process of masking and revealing, of building up and breaking down, observing the world that lies within my panel and constructing a version of my own.

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My work has always held a key interest in bodies of water. For this particular series, it came as no surprise to me that I pulled many fragments of different bodies of water from my books. From aerials of oceans, to gushing waterfalls and winding rivers, I wanted to pull out a sense of calm among this chaos of form and constant motion. I wanted to capture those fleeting mystic moments when water lies enveloped in sheets of fog - the hazy blankets slowly releasing water from its sleep and revealing a new day, a new horizon line. As I dropped inks upon my surface, I reflected on the swirl of colors that hide within these organic bodies, constantly shifting and changing with the light. A symphony of color and movement, there is an element of tranquility that water carries with it - it's rhythmic motions have the ability to calm even itself.  With each thread I wrapped, I worked to imitate this therapeutic nature and capture the ethereal beauty of the break of morning light upon its surface.

Meditation / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Meditation / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Softly Morning Comes / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Softly Morning Comes / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Shoreline / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Shoreline / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Pieces from the "Calmer Waters" series are available for sale here.