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

TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog

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. 

TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog
TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog
TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog

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. 

TaylorAdams_CollectingColor_ArtistBlog
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. 

TaylorAdams_ColorCollecting_ArtistBlog
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. 

TaylorAdams_ColorCollecting_ArtistBlog
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.

TaylorAdams_FromWhatIRemember
Hand-stitched into the fibers of this landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future.
TaylorAdams_FromWhatIRemember

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.  

TaylorAdams_FromWhatIRemember

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

TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog_FromWhatIRemember

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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.

From Above // An Aerial Perspective by Taylor Adams

I could spend hours looking at aerial views of the many landscapes that compose our Earth. Wild, infinite spaces have such an ability to impress me. A symphony of color and texture - rising, falling, reaching, and growing to create the place we call home. A constant state of motion, full of living light - it's something I can't resist exploring.

Zoomed out, miles above, you can see so much at once. Rivers stretch and bend chasing the curves of the land - searching for lakes and oceans to pour themselves into over and over. The ocean embraces the shore - covering the sand with a blanket of foam, retreating only to return. Evergreen trees shoot up from the ground - climb the backs of mountains, rise with them to touch the sky and breathe life into the air. Fall and rise again. A world of relentless determination. A support system intertwined with one purpose. Listen, watch, learn. Take note.

An early morning fog creeps across the land, gently waking up what lies beneath. Soft, quiet sheets whispering across water, rolling through hills, and slipping through branches of sleepy pines and silver maples. A steady stillness to wake up the wild. The first instrument to play in this daily orchestra. How lucky are we to be instruments too? To walk among the web of elements speaking in energy, breathing in color. Remember your part. Inhale, exhale, and begin.

These pieces are available for sale, contact me at tayloradamsart@gmail.com for more information.

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Storm Watch by Taylor Adams

I’ve been thinking a lot about weather systems, about the beauty of storms. Those looming forms to which we have no control over. Wild energies that disrupt, dismantle, and remind us we are small. But there is beauty in this chaos. They show us fragility. They show us strength. They teach us to retreat, reconstruct, and keep moving forward. With my threads I bind together these wild energies, these organic beings that can’t be held. Breaking down the chaos into the simplest form - a line. A line becomes two, then three and many more, and just for one moment, I’ve caught the storm.

What if we could catch these atmospheres? What if we could hold them in our hands? Feel their pulse and throbbing heartbeat saying, ‘I am here. I am living and breathing this air that you breathe.’
— Sketchbook excerpt
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Studio Scenes by Taylor Adams

Find these VW Bus prints on my Etsy shop.

Find these VW Bus prints on my Etsy shop.

Having a studio space is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. After going awhile without one, it’s incredible the difference it makes to have a space that is purely dedicated to creating, a space that you don’t have to share with living or sleeping.

My work is very much a form of discovery through process -- in other words it can get pretty messy. Through dripping, splattering, pouring and splashing, I explore my surfaces and learn from my media.
I believe it’s this freedom to make a mess that makes all the difference when creating. It's the freedom to explore, spill, and make mistakes that leads to the discoveries. When I need a break from my visuals, I can walk away - let a piece in progress sit, give it time to breathe, and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

My studio is nowhere near as big as I would like it to be, nothing close to my dream spaces on Pinterest. My 7 ft desk takes up one wall, and it's often so scattered with various projects, that I have paintings populating my smaller work table and a few scattered across the floor as well. The other wall was homemade by my brother and divides a dining area in the house, thus creating my little space. I love having this wall because I can paint on it, write on it, and hammer as many nails as I please while I'm constantly hanging and rearranging pieces.

I have a collection of findings that I like to keep in my studio as sources of inspiration. Old books, pieces of driftwood, an assortment of empty frames (as seen above), scraps of material and more. Okay now I sound like a hoarder, but I promise it's not that excessive. Perhaps my favorite, and something I always like to keep on my desk is a little collection of various shells, coral, rocks, and bits of sea glass that I've gathered from places I've traveled. I like the idea of always having a physical piece of the different landscapes I've walked across and marveled at, and I find the textures and colors to be a constant source of inspiration.

Wherever I wander, I'm always thinking about how I can channel what I see and experience back into my studio and into my work. The good news is, there's plenty to explore out there, even in the ordinary day.

Find me on Instagram to see more of my daily explorations and process.

Keep Going, Keep Going, Keep Going by Taylor Adams

“But in order to get there, you may have to break down the walls of whatever it is that’s holding you back first. Ignore the doubt - it’s not your friend - and just keep going, keep going, keep going.”
— Lauren Graham, Talking As Fast As I Can

Sometimes you read just the right book at just the right time and you're reminded of some truths you needed to hear. I recently read Lauren Graham's new book, Talking As Fast As I Can. I love books of personal essays like this because I find it so encouraging and inspiring to read about the early stages of accomplished figures striving to live their dreams. It's comforting to remember that every person chasing a dream must endure the trials and tribulations that come along with it. It's going to be tough, that's the truth - but that probably means it'll also be worth it. Every dream has its own timeline and it's not always going to line up with the one in your head - the important part is learning to appreciate the journey, trust the process, & keep going, keep going, keep going.