Bryan Mark Taylor has been known to set his easel up anywhere and everywhere. He is a traveler and adventurer, who uses his paint colors to capture obscure corners of the world. Bryan's senses are sharper than those of most: churning the sights around him into colorful images charged with emotion. His paintings aren’t exactly realistic, but they aren’t abstract either. They depict the reality of the moment but with the addition of a visible atmosphere that alters his forms and edges, and adds vibrancy to his colors. Bryan has a knack for simplifying complex subjects so that a jumble of crates and tarps blend and lead the eye towards, as an example, the basket of melons beside it.
As masterful as Bryan is in his landscapes, his still lifes are equally brilliant. His latest signature subject, a hunk of artisan bread, ripped in half, displays a range of hues, all of which add to the complexity of the soft crumb inside, and trick the viewer into believing that these colors can truly be found inside any old loaf of bread.
Just as Bryan approaches a variety of surprising landscape subjects, he also paints a wide array of odd still-life subjects. Especially during his yearly Strada Easel challenge, he could surprise us with anything! A handful of mushrooms thrown over a table, a raw steak, an antique phone, burning incense, jars of pickles, a pile of raw fish, or a plastic bottle of water from the grocery store. Anything can be painted and made beautiful in Bryan’s home studio. And for those of us who are itching to emulate his magic in our own work, there is Bryan’s crowd favorite, Sentient Academy courses.
In Bryan’s course, Still Life Painting Challenge, he arranges the corpse of an octopus under a light. If this feels disgusting to you, join the club. But as mentioned previously, if you can find it on the planet Earth, Bryan will paint it.
He dabs his brush into burnt sienna thinned with Gamsol and begins to draw the shape of the octopus’ mantle. Bryan explains that he considers the animals’ legs to be an opportunity to draw the eye back towards the mantle and that he uses the same technique that he would use to paint any other complex object such as hair. “You have to organize your subject in a way that feels natural and yet maintains interesting curves.”
Bryan reminds us that the octopus has eight legs, each of which needs to be accounted for, and that each curve of the leg is a different width and shape. The form shouldn’t be painted spontaneously as you would in a Plein Air, or on-location painting. In still life, careful thought should be put into the design of the subject beforehand. “Sometimes I see a painting [and think that] if the design was taken care of better, it would be a much more interesting painting.” Bryan urges us to be patient with the design process, and try a variety of angles and arrangements, as well as consider what type of shadow we would like to create, before committing our subject to canvas.
By this time, Bryan has outlined a tangle of the long octopus’ legs across his own canvas. “Having a thicker line allows me the freedom to cut into [the shapes of the legs] and blend them with the background color if I need to. I find that will lend itself better to the use of really soft, wet on wet edges, and will enhance the slimy feel of the octopus.”
To learn more about Bryan's landscape course click HERE. To join in Bryan's Still Life course click HERE. Apart from Byran's Sentient Courses, he will also be presenting at the 2022 Vision X Live Art Conference.