At this point in February I always begin to seriously crave a hit of summer. While the globe has a way to turn before that’s even remotely possible, artist Sean Taylor is serving coastal sunshine up in the form of acrylic paint and canvas, and alleviating my cravings a little.
The seashore has always drawn Sean’s artistic eye.
“I’ve been interested in drawing and painting from an early age,” he says. “Much of my childhood was spent on a small family farm near the coast in Hampshire, England where I enjoyed sketching the farm animals and the surrounding countryside. The seaside held a fascination and I remember including shells, starfish and seaweed in school painting projects and competitions. This lead to me becoming interested in art and painting in particular.”
The impressionists were among Sean’s main inspirations at that time, “with Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse among my favourites. While contemplating a career I was torn between becoming a fine art painter or graphic designer. Eventually I studied graphics at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art.”
Happily, Sean returned to painting after a successful career in graphic design. “My graphics background along with the early passion for fine art helped to develop my bold style of contemporary figurative painting which explores shape and colour while sometimes bordering the abstract.”
Sean’s confident stylised approach renders a version of the British coastline that’s both idealised and deeply familiar, capturing quirks galore – lines of washing and nattering seagulls feature, along with skew-whiff boats waiting for the tide and harbourside homes.
“Having always lived near the sea, it’s no real surprise my main subject is the coastal landscape with its harbours and beaches,” Sean says. “As a child I explored the tidal rivers and creeks at Keyhaven, Hampshire, in a small sailing boat. Summer days were spent watching seabirds nesting, beachcombing and swimming in the sea. The marsh area is very flat, without trees and few buildings so the huge skies dipping to the horizon made a wonderful backdrop. These big skies reflect the light off the sea making the bright marine colours of freshly painted boats, marker buoys and blue sea even more vivid. It’s this seaside environment of holidays, colour and fun which attracts me but with it comes the edge, a possibility of danger. The sea can change and turn from friend to enemy, and it’s this mix which appeals to me.”
When Sean looks back at his earlier paintings, he says he can see similarities to his current work. “While developing my style I wanted to produce work that was an island of concentrated colour and shape on a sea of flat tone, like a colourful badge or brooch on a plain coat. In time, this composition developed to fill the entire canvas in most paintings as I became more interested in abstract forms and how they interact with each other. The forms have no sharp edges but are rounded like seashore driftwood, pebbles and boats.”
Sean’s studio work in St Ives, Cornwall, England is based on observations of situations he encounters in everyday life. “It could be a small dog on a bench or fishing boats in a busy harbour. An initial small sketch begins the process before coming to life drawn up full size and painted onto a canvas. Composition, forms and colours reflect how I feel about the subject – they are not intended to mirror reality but to borrow elements from reality.”
Sean’s passion for the creative process shines through in his work. “I enjoy developing an idea for a painting and watching it progress. Finishing the painting, when it goes well, is the icing on the cake and a satisfying finale to the project. I also enjoy meeting clients, in some cases paintings have been purchased over several years through galleries or exhibitions, so it’s exciting meeting the collectors for the first time. A question I’m often asked by visitors to my studio is am I sad to see a favourite painting go? While it can sometimes be a wrench, I realise from the first brushmark the painting has to go out into the world to find its place. When it’s finished, I’m looking forward to starting the next canvas.”
Sean’s paintings have been exhibited extensively in the UK and have been purchased by collectors worldwide. For details of his exhibitions, paintings, and more, visit seantaylorartist.com.
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