We had the good fortune of connecting with Ans Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ans, how does your business help the community?
I love this question, because I struggled with it when I began my career as a painter. For a while I was stuck in the common crisis: I looked at my friends being nurses, doctors, law enforcement, plumbers, and I wondered if my calling to create art was really as important as some claim it is. The demand for a good artist tends to be a lot less urgent than the demand for a nurse or a plumber – so how legitimate is our claim to fame? My art was transforming my own life, but in the beginning most clients seemed to approach my whimsical portraits of local folks, critters and cacti (my Cactus Queens and Desert Divas series) with some caution. Then I had a chance to display and sell my art at the Arizona Fine Art Expo, a 70 day nonstop show in Scottsdale. I watched people stroll into my booth, stop in front of a painting, and start crying. They told me how the expression and life captured in the painting moved them. Childhood memories came alive. Hardships overcome were shared (some of my paintings combine colorful beauty with an allegorical or biblical background). More interest in my models, often strong local Arizona women, was raised, which turned out to be a blessing. I came away with the realization that there is a need for uplifting, joyful art even, or especially, in times when urgent and immediate needs seem to prevail. There’s always a good time for a humorous discussion about the whimsy and freedom in art. I belief a piece of art that presents people in a light but not superficial manner can provide a balance much needed. And if I have a chance to honor and highlight the beauty in our courageous fellow Arizonans, the better. I just had a chance to portray (in my whimsical way) Miss Yavapai 2020, and was able to introduce her, her talent and enterprising spirit as well as her beneficial projects to a small audience.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I paint the whimsical West: my ‘Cactus Queens and Desert Divas’ series portrays local Arizonians paired in an often humorous way with the critters and landscapes of the Southwest. My Helos series is comprised of large format hummingbirds in a combination of bold, dynamic brushstrokes and realistic detail. All of my paintings, from whimsical portraits to tall, winged statement pieces, mirror my love of nature and humans. Most of my portrait models are people that caught my eye, or who had a story to tell that I wanted to share. Painting my models means capturing their inside beauty as well as their outside smile. I put special care into portraying them with all of their life and energy showing through the canvas. When asked to teach about how to make a painting come to live in a recent workshop I brooded about that question for quite a while. Do you know how you do what you do best? I usually paint in my ‘zone’ using my gut instinct, with a passion to convey… and things just happen (hiccups happen, too!). But I did notice that I access some resources from my past. Starting from drawing princesses and making up fairy tales to go with them as a little girl in Germany, to being an Illustrator and comic artist, to painting Cactus Queens after moving across three continents as military spouse and settling in Arizona … One steady factor in my pursuit of the arts was that I always wanted to tell stories. I learned how to transport mood and drama by expression and the development of characters as an illustrator. And even though the approach is quite different as a figurative oil painter, I suspect that this urge to tell and share is still present and takes its place in my paintings. I was told that all my paintings are joyful and uplifting. There’s a reason for that, and I’m glad and grateful that it perseveres even during crazy times: Starting a new life in a new country is not always easy, and in a year like 2020 keeping contact with family overseas is a struggle that takes its toll even while concentrating on art. The place where I draw the passion, lightness and bubbly joy that appears in my paintings from is a faith in the ‘Papa’ who can keep me sane, safe and straightforward. How else would one react to a friendship with the biggest artist of all, than with a renewed energy to value his gifts!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spots to to show off would include a trip to Tucson and the Sonoran desert museum. We would spend the day between cacti and hummingbirds and watch the sun go down at Peddlers Pass. Some local pottery places on the way to Bisbee would provide an opportunity to shop, as well as the various cute little shops and street vendors there. After Chiricahua we beeline back to visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix! Dinner will be a simple Thai takeout or the excellent vegan menu of the Chocolate grill. Visiting with resident friends of the Arizona Fine Art Expo is a must to introduce the happy artist family. Cruising back into the mountains we definitely stop a couple week days in Sedona (avoiding weekend traffic), just because the light on the red rocks is so unheard of. My favorite Indian place provides all the heat in every season. Finally we come back to Prescott and my home in the pines, where my guest will meet my resident javelina, deer and squirrel family as well as soak in the diverse beauty of the dells and Watson lake, the pine trails and the highland steppe.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I was lucky to have two whole groups of benevolent painters help, inspire, critique and support me – coincidentally both powered by buckets of coffee sipped with art talk. The local Mountain artist guild live portrait group was one of the most precious experiences my first teacher Sonsoles shoved me into. Training to paint from live is one valuable lesson, but the coffee break talk was and is still the real delightful, artful, painful and invaluable takeaway 😄 My second Art and career support family is comprised of the varied artists of the Arizona Fine Art Expo. Imagine what happens if you put 100 artists of all trades from all over the country for over 70 days nonstop into one huge gallery tent. Not only will you find yourself surrounded by beauty and art every day. But you spend your days on a special island, interacting and interchanging with your fellow artist family daily. A slow day with few collectors visiting? Be sure to expect your local artist family coming by your booth and providing cheer, chocolate, critique and pep talk. I couldn’t imagine better support than our fellow peers – the beauty of being an artists is you share a true passion instead of just a business plan, and a common vision.