By Jennifer Pund
Nederland is a much more colorful town thanks to Heather Taylor. The passionate artist—known for her bold, playful representations of animals, musicians, nudes and landscapes—has left her mark on the town and the many venues displaying her work.
Taylor’s vivid and whimsical art can be seen all around town. There’s a mural on the outside of the Carousel of Happiness—where damage from an auto accident used to be—and the Community Bus Stop at the corner of East 2nd and Snyder streets. Her canvases, and smaller items like light switch plates and belt buckles, can also be found displayed and for sale in numerous local shops and restaurants. Local events, including Frozen Dead Guy Days and Mountain Madness, as well as community fund-raisers are always much more colorful thanks to her contributions of original art.
While Taylor has certainly left her creative mark on Nederland, the town has also had an affect on her. “I feel kind of spoiled that I have Nederland where I can actually hang my artwork in a couple of different places. I really knock on my head, or knock on wood, it’s a blessing. It’s a real trip. Nederland is my family,” Taylor said. “It encourages me, it keeps me going, and it’s just the beautiful surroundings that make me paint the beautiful landscapes. We can’t make it up, we’re looking at it. It’s a real trip. Especially since I’m coming up on 10 years there. I couldn’t imagine growing into the artist I am without Ned and everybody in it.” she said. “Ever since I have been in Ned, people have seen my art. It was in Whistler’s [Café] and then Blue Owl and then One Brown Mouse, and then it just kind of spiraled from there.”
The Rhode Island-born artist says she has been inspired to create since she was very young and has since developed a “vast passion” for creating. But, she prefers doing things her way. In college, she “went against the grain,” ignored her teachers and followed her own style.
“I half-listened to all my professors when they were like ‘we want you to paint like this and paint like that.’ I feel that art should be a extension of who you are. Not what everyone is doing now,” she said. “I used to do a lot of graffiti when I was younger. Of course, when you become the age that they can actually arrest and bust you, you’ve got to try to figure out a different outlet.”
Taylor credits early encouragement from her family for helping foster her art skills. “My grandma and uncles and parents were really supportive of just giving me art supplies when I was little,” she said. “I just always had art around me because my family was very art- and music-oriented. They realized [I] was drawing eight-foot murals when [I] was a year old—they don’t even know how I did that—but, I had life size trees and buses and cars and everything I had seen that I drew with black crayon on my bedroom wall. They knew I was going to be an artist.”
She also started showing her work at art shows in defiance to her teachers. “I know a lot of times they are like, finish your education before you think you can go out in the art world. It’s like no, that’s bullshit. If you feel like you are ready and have balls enough to go ask a gallery, you’d be shocked,” she said. “That’s what happened to me. I started selling some paintings so that helped me out for getting better art shows with other recognized artists.”
While influenced by the masters, Taylor has developed her own unique approach to painting. “I think a lot of [my style] is that old city, cartoon-y, abstract kind of way that I translate it to canvas. I take what I’ve been doing since I was little, and just kind of push it, and push it, and push it, and push it,” she said. “It’s like finding your own style and just sticking with it. To me, I see so much color and movement in things, that’s it’s like I can only picture a painting almost moving. So, I kind of go there with it. I often say my backgrounds are like Jackson Pollock, because I usually just let the paint go wherever the fuck it wants to go. I paint what I see out of the paint and then from there maybe it’s abstract, maybe it’s impressionism. Then that thick black line reminds me of Salvador Dali, or even Van Gogh, where it’s just a really hard edge.” However it may be deconstructed, her joyful, vibrant, spontaneous art invokes emotion and movement, which appeals to her many admirers, clients and collectors.
According to the artist, when she paints she lets everything go. “I never really know what I’m going to paint, I just let the paint and canvas guide me. Before I know it I have a wild colorful background that screams the final answer at me,” she said.
Acrylic paints are Taylor’s medium of choice because they allow her to paint at a fast pace. “They keep up with the speed that I paint,” she said, “which is what came in handy when I did live shows painting in front of bands, and stuff like that. I could actually finish a painting within the show time and, for me, the colors are just a tiny bit more vibrant. The way my brain works, I just want to keep moving and moving and moving. And, when you watch me paint, I really am just moving and I’m hopping all over the place, and I’m going over here and the lines are now over there and it’s like I am just moving.”
Social media and participating in art shows when possible, have become important tools for Taylor to show off her new pieces. “I feel I sell more by being more involved on Facebook or Instagram and actually doing art shows,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t paint for money. I paint because it’s a stress relief for me. There’s so much shit going on in the world, and in my life, and everybody’s life, and you have to keep going. So, for me, this is my time out space, and when I share it, people happen to want it.”
In addition to her artwork, Taylor’s need for self-expression carries over into the hip-hop persona she employs while on stage with local funk and hip-hop band PowerLung Rangers. Well-known local musicians Jon Ridnell, Matt Smart and Otis Landi, her fiancé, are also in the act.
Look for her art all over town including at Rocky Mountain Oyster Bar, Ned’s, Renaissance Woman, James Peak Smokehouse, Crafted in Colorado, Stage Stop, Blue Owl Books and more. She can also be found at Nederland Farmers Markets and NedFest Music Festival in late August. Watch for her at holiday shows, including the White Friday Art Sale event at the Stage Stop, which she organizes.
Find the Art of Heather Taylor on Facebook to see her latest creations or find out where she is performing next. Her creations are also for sale at theartofheathertaylor.com. She always available for commission work and is willing to paint on anything.
Originally published in the July 2017 issue of the MMAC Monthly
Photos by Jeffrey V. Smith/All art by Heather Taylor