Will Taylor is a fine artist and printmaker. He favours traditional line techniques in etching, pen, charcoal and silverpoint, and his work always contains a strong element of drawing. Recurring themes in his work are animals, vernacular buildings and the natural landscape.
What art techniques/style do you use and why?
I use traditional techniques of line drawing. I started with pen and ink illustrations. I still use traditional dip pens with bottled India ink, rather than modern drafting pens or fibre tip pens. I find they give a better quality and variability of line. In trying to master this technique I find an important connection to the old book illustrators who I so admire.
From pen and ink there is a strong link to etching, where the artists draws with a needle onto a metal plate. In both pen and etching it is obviously more difficult to erase mistakes. Now printmaking is at the core of what I do as an artist. I love everything about it: from the smells of the inks and press, the turning of the press wheel and the careful order of polishing, preparing, grounding and wiping of the plate… In etching, it is not just the fact that the image can be printed multiple times, it is the whole process and the quality of line which adds so much value to the artwork.
A further connection is in the large charcoal studies that I do. I see these as extensions of the line work. They are in fact large tone studies, and they often act as preparatory studies, at a massive scale, for the etchings.
Another closely related technique is silverpoint. Here I am drawing with a pure silver wire on prepared paper (using ‘gouache‘). It is in some senses the opposite of drawing with an etching needle on metal. Like etching, it is difficult to erase lines. It is a beautiful medium for delicate drawings, using only a narrow range of tones. It is a very old techniques used before the discovery of graphite - have a look at the portrait drawings by Holbein.
How and what about the High Weald landscape and its features or materials inspires you?
I am inspired by the vernacular buildings of the Weald. I get a lot of commissions to draw houses, and it is important to understand their construction and use. I am always inspired by a visit to the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, where original Weald houses are re-constructed to show their former incarnations.
The Weald landscape itself is also inspiring. I am always looking for contrasts of darks and lights. It is a great challenge to get the different values of darks when using etching that might evoke the distance, mystery, grandeur or textures of a landscape.
Is there a special place where you like to do your art?
A lot of my work is necessarily done in the studio. I am lucky enough to have space at home for a studio that can accommodate a printing press and good working surfaces.
Were you good at art at school? What did your teachers say?
I am mostly self taught as an artist. I eventually did sciences at school and engineering at University, followed by a career as a Management Consultant. Ten years ago I changed career to art.
My art qualifications are therefore my Art “O-level” (as it was then). I got an A grade and received good encouragement at school: it was formative , I realise now, that I had a school work picture displayed by the art master in a local High Street Building Society window (but I don‘t remember the picture being very good!).
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Only ten years ago, after a very different career. During that career, it wouldn’t say that I was always wishing I could be an artist. I suppose my approach has always been to do each career to the best of my ability. Now I am an artist, definitely feels the right thing for me.
How did you become an artist?
There is, of course, no one moment. I hope I will always be becoming an artist.
However, when I had the opportunity I attended two “summer schools” of (only) about a week each. The first in drawing at the Slade Art School, London University, the second was in printmaking at the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone. That experience is still useful to me now.
It was helpful to me as I began to develop my art career to join an Art Society - The Society of Graphic Fine Art. It helped me exhibit work in London and find connections with other artists.
What do you like most about being an artist?
I like the lifestyle, particularly working to my own agenda. I certainly appreciate it in contrast to a business career - but don’t underestimate being an artist - when being an artist is working well the demands on your time and the organisation required is sometimes greater than working in a big business organisation.
Draw and sketch whenever you can - preferably in a sketchbook which forces you to keep your work - both good and bad. Looking back over all your work to see how you are progressing is really useful. Don’t be put off copying stuff - it is a very traditional way of learning to be an artist.
How have the picture you have supplied for the website come about?
Church Cottage, Goudhurst pen and ink 5” x 7”This is a very traditional line drawing done in pen and ink, as would have done by the Edwardian topographical book illustrators. It is of the house in the modern day but has the feeling of being at any age.
Sissinghurst Upper Courtyard, etching 100 x 150mm This is an etching drawn with a needle on a copper plate. The actual drawing is of course done in reverse so as to appear the correct way round when printed. I lived close to Sissinghurst Castle and could walk to this location.
Landscape with Oast, dry point 100 x 100mm This is actually a fantasy landscape, but with the addition an oast house it locates it in the Weald. I like the very graphic, minimal and strong composition, that leads the viewer down the track. The strong darks of the trees has the effect of flooding the rest of the landscape in light. It is a dry point - the image is “scratched” directly into the surface of the printing plate. It doesn’t use acid as for a true etching - it is in fact a form of engraving - that creates a soft image.
If you would like to find out more about Will Taylor and his style of art please visit www.willtaylorart.co.uk