The local bookstore has proven indispensable one more time. I found one copy of “Oak,one tree,three years,50 paintings” by the British painter Stephen Taylor lying on top of a pile of art books as if it was left there with purpose to be found by the right buyer. A quick look made clear that I had to have the book in any case. At home I slowly realised that I had made a really lucky discovery.
Painting is dead since Duchamp . If painting is dead, plein air and/or landscape painting is deader than dead. But it is something painters cannot let go it seems. I can spare you explanations about the artist Stephen Taylor and his motivations (Stephen Taylor writings) because the artist has documented his work on his website. After seven years of studies in the same open Essex landscape Stephen Tayler has turned his attention to painting water. His almost scientific interest in the perception of colour and light becomes more clear after watching the short videos on painting water.
It is the first time that I see a painter making use of digital photography and plein air field studies with convincing results. The big paintings are photorealistic in an irritating way as they contain a breeze of Rousseau at the same time which makes the image toggle between photography and painting. The book has a some interesting detail reproductions which illustrate indeed the intention of the painter to display the perception of nature with his observation-based painting. The “pictures of a tree” seem the inevitable by-product of that process.
For someone who has done observation-based sketching in the woods for a couple of years Stephen Taylor and his work are a great confirmation. After the forest diary I feel that I need to take the next step with drawing,sketching or painting trees without making “pictures”. That was the mantra I had in mind over the last 12 months when I set out to the next sketch : make notes of what you see, sketch without making a picture. Reading this book might be the required catalyst.