David Taylor talks Moodscapes and his Journey from Architect to Artist

At what point did you realise you wanted to be artist?

When I left school I wanted to go to art college, but my parents weren’t happy as they felt making a career out of art was very unpredictable. They preferred that i did something that they felt was more professional so i decided to study architecture, which was a way of using my creative skills whilst hopefully having a good career. I found a lot of architects to be frustrated artists, because a lot of architects turn to be painters later on in life. I got to a stage where I could afford to take a bit of a risk, I was financially more secure, so I thought to hell with it! I am going to do want i really wanted to do paint !

Ten years ago I decided to take the break from architecture and concentrate on painting. Initially it was only on a hobby scale until a friend of mine said ‘oh David you work is good, you should exhibit’ and she suggested the Urban Art Fair which I agreed and then signed up to. So I started there, hanging my paintings on the railings in the street in Brixton. To my surprise I sold a painting and I couldn’t believe someone wanted to by it. This gave me the drive to pursue my career path as an artist and eventually it took off. After about three years of doing smaller exhibitions like the Dulwich Open, Lambeth Open, and Urban Art I was spotted by a central London gallery, which turned out to be the Medici Gallery on Cork Street. That is when I started exhibiting in a big way, it had always been my ambition to exhibit on Cork Street and I never knew it would happen only three years into my career as an artist.

Tidal Storm

You paint what I can only describe abstract landscapes, why this subject? And is it an abstract landscape?

Probably because in my earlier years as an architect I was drawing very straight lines and everything had to be very precise. Painting was my way of getting away from all that and you don’t get much looser than skies and landscapes. You’ll notice in my paintings that there are never any buildings, never any straight lines. Whenever I put straight lines into my paintings it kills what I am trying to achieve, which is a state of total serenity, a natural, almost spiritual quality, although I’m not a particularly religious person. I mean it in a more meditative way; when people see my paintings they say they have a spiritual quality that they can lose themselves in and dream into. That is the essence of what I am trying to do now. They are landscape based but I prefer to call them moodscapes. I am trying to put over something thought provoking, relaxing, peaceful and all those things that come using light and clouds. I want to perfect them. They are a balance between abstraction and impressionism.

How long have you been doing these moodscapes for?

I have been doing this style for almost ten years now. It’s a desire to improve and communicate this feeling of calmness, which I am trying to create. Each one I do there is a subtlety in the light, a message. There is a long way to go, I can still push it further.

Summer 16

People say they are Turneresque and I don’t really see that, I mean Turner painted landscapes and later in his career became very abstract but I just consider my paintings to be me, of course when I was younger I was inspired by Turner, but now when I look at his work there are a lot of living artists that impress me more. Some of the works I really enjoy are by Hughie O'Donoghue, they are thought provoking and I like the way he applies the paint.

That is the thing about painting, everybody applies paint in a different way. It is almost like handwriting, no two people have the same handwriting, the mark making, the pressure you put on the brush, the amount of paint you put on, the arm movement, the intensity of the paint with thinners or whatever you use. The whole thing slots together to form your own style of painting.

People try imitate or copy other artists but it never happens because it can’t happen, because everybody paints so differently. That for me is the best thing about painting, it’s nice when you see a work and say that’s a Tom Cox, or a David Taylor, and its noticeable straight away. I suppose thats what Im trying to achieve, when someone can recognise my work instantly. That individuality is what everybody strives to achieve in some way, shape or form.

How many galleries represent you at the moment?

Three galleries.

What advice would you give to those hoping to get represented?

It’s hard to say really. I have been very lucky in as much as they have come to me rather than I have gone to them. And there is a bit of luck in this business, you can be super, super talented but if luck doesn’t go your way it might not happen.

Several times I have exhibited in open studios a gallery manager has visited and asked if i would you like to exhibit with them, which is an amazing form of recognition. I remember in the early days of my career I sent images to a gallery and then they asked to see the originals, so I took them and they liked them; and of course when they sell them they want more! If they don’t sell them, then you are out. They have limited wall space and want work that sells.

What do you think about people calling certain types of art commercial?

Art is so individual to each person, what one person likes another person hates and visa versa. There are lots of painters that have done really, really well, but haven’t been given any recognition by the big institutions. There are several painters that have sold exceptionally large volumes of work that have never been accepted by the Royal Academy for example.

Distant Deluge

It is a certain type of snobbery I think, to a degree, because if you produce work, you like it and people want to buy it then that is fine. So what is commercial art? Some of the most famous artists who have been given accolades by the Royal Academy are commercial, because they are selling with red dot after red dot after red dot, but they are in a certain environment where it’s accepted. I mean Tracey Emin is somebody with a name, and she is a commercial artist. Somebody like Van Gogh who never sold a painting in his life but now is selling; he became commercial after he was dead.

People within the art world sometimes try to use it as an insult, But in the reality of it, it just means that it sells, and good art sells. If it is good then people recognise the value in it and want to buy it.

I just think an artist has to paint what they believe in and if people want to buy it then that’s fine. There is a lot of snobbery attached to an artists background for example, where you studied say the Slade School or the Royal Academy or other art colleges. For someone like myself who never had formal art training as such, can be looked down upon, especially when trying to gain gallery representation, when they say ‘oh where did you study' A lot of the best artists never went to art college. I’ve asked people about their time at college, and they say they didn't teach you how to paint merely given the environment in which to express yourself but they don’t actually teach you how to paint.

What are your goals for 2017?

I want to continue on my path to achieve perfection, every time I do a painting I think this is going to be my best, but you can’t work like that as it will begin to strangle you artistically. You might do ten paintings and out of those ten you get two that are really good and only one that is exceptionally good, but if you put the pressure on yourself it’s no good because art doesn’t work like that. You can’t say why it is the best one, you have got to chase it. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that some of your works are going to be considered inferior to others, but that is the creative process, you have to go through that to achieve your goals, you have to take some knocks, but that is being an artist; it can be frustrating sometimes.

Lakeland Dream

Any advice for an artist new on the scene?

You have to believe in yourself and you have to push yourself to do just that, don’t let anybody knock you back. There is no specific right or wrong, everybody has something to bring to the table in the way they create. Technically if you are a very fine figurative artist then people could correct you in some way because of the skin tone or whatever, but if you are not that type of a fine artist then its about self expression. I like to see the mistakes that turn out to be almost magical mistakes, it is so much more interesting than seeing a photographic reproduction.

David Taylor will be exhibiting his fantastic moodscapes in Focus LDN's Spring Collection, this Feb 28th - 4th March 2017 at the Menier Gallery.