Literary art, lyrical paintings Anti-Standard #31 with William Taylor Paintings

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William Taylor Paintings is a beloved artist who’s work online certainty strikes a chord with those trying to navigate…everything. We had the opportunity to talk to William about inspiring through literary art.

U: What is your process like since there is a clear literary and expressionist elements? Where do you start or do these elements walk hand in hand?

WT: It took me some time to come to my current process! Honestly, like 4-5 years. The expressionist element to my work, like the colors or the energy of the lines, definitely is an intuitive, moment-to-moment process.

Most of the time, I’ll have a phrase planned out before I start a painting, and the “making” part is mainly me unpacking the energy of the idea and the feeling I’m working with. I try to embody that energy through color choice and the abstractions.

It sounds a little boring (and it can be haha) but I always start by painting the edges of the canvas black. I’ll make a couple lines with any leftover black paint as well. Later this shows up as gritty texture, which I love. Acrylic dries pretty fast, so I work in a lot of layers like this, making lines or abstract patterns and gradually building up unique color combinations. I also develop some type of abstract shape to render in black, which is where I’ll put the text when I’m done. 😊

U: Where does inspiration for your abstractions come from? Is it internal feelings or observations about the world?

WT: My favorite aspect of art is strangeness and unfamiliarity. An emotionally charged space that gives you a clear feeling without any sense of familiarity. This kind of art always takes me somewhere.

This was my gateway to abstraction in general. Usually, I design abstractions/color schemes to make them as unrecognizable as possible. The challenge is making it coherent and visually appealing still.

It can be hard to make pure abstraction feel “grounded,” so I usually try to anchor each piece with a black structure of some kind. The text is also a conceptual anchor for the feeling conveyed. I’m working on these paint sketches right now to build my language with these “structures.” Often, they’re intuitive, but I have a few from my sketches that I want to try in a larger, painting format

U: (related to above) Where do the words come from?

WT: Wow, this is a hard one! I keep notes on my phone of different phrases and title ideas. I have over a thousand entries. It’s a little boring, but I guess they come from the composite of my experience. Phrases aiming for the emotional gestalt of my life. Relationships, hopes and dreams, mental health, the weight of the political world, anxiety for the future, humor, light-heartedness, love. I hope to make art that’s multifaceted. Emotional spaces that can hold all those complex feelings in a clear way.

U: How do you feel-out scale? What makes you choose big vs small and so on?

WT: I love large paintings. I try to work as large as possible, so this is really determined by budget and space. I work with a lot of square canvases. The symmetry is fun for me. It’s not always a canvas size you see, and I don’t have to choose between landscape or vertical. 😊

U: Where (time in your life/locations) did you first start painting?

WT: In 2015! I was a burnt out, depressed, high school student itching to find my creative niche. I dropped out of college the following year and have worked odd jobs and learned about art in many different ways. 

U: How has your creative process changed over time? 

WT: It’s changed a lot! I’ve had so many different styles. I started doing landscapes and still-lives in oil. Then I worked through modernism and then contemporary styles influenced by artists like Basquiat. I eventually fell for the simplicity of what I do now and have been avoiding imagery since, fleshing out my abstractions and working towards clear, simple, powerful emotional impact.

U: What work of yours means the most to you?

WT: Probably my piece “Hold on to the Bond” from 2022. I was in love with someone that was falling out of love with me, and the relationship became a long heartbreak up until we broke up.

I thought a lot about the beauty of bonds as they build and fall apart. It was a wishful, loving piece that also expressed some very honest pain. A big statement for me.

U: How do you decide when to use color and which colors to use? 

WT: I usually have a vague sense of color going into a piece, but the rest is really intuitive moment by moment. I love the chance effects that come about when painting intuitively and working in layers. The final color schemes are always more than I can consciously plan.

U: Do you have a writing practice outside the words you write on your paintings?

WT: I dabble in poetry from time to time, but not a whole lot. For my day job, I work in media and do some writing for people, but outside of that, no major writing process. My only other creative outlet is mixing music for fun on my computer. 😊

U: When you think of the idea of “making something great” what does that mean to you? (ie. Does it mean a legacy, being able to teach someone an art practice?)

For me, making something great is making art that gives a transformational emotional experience. Powerful emotional spectrum that helps viewers heal or come to realizations or feel energized on a deeper level. That’s the goal. 😊



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by: Sydney Seymour & Riley Halliday

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