Friday, March 1, 2013


Recently, a Facebook friend, upon seeing some images of my work online, asked me about a shape that I use quite often in my compositions. It is a shape that I've been working with for the last few years, since 2009, having developed it through drawings of hourglasses. I was deeply preoccupied with time I was losing to recovery from an injury, the days passing, the years, and I chose the hourglass as a beautiful form and as a way to visually focus my preoccupation with time.

© 2009 Ravenna Taylor, ink, gouache, on found gameboard, 14 x 14 inches

Simultaneously, I also began using game boards as another way of visualizing time's passage, along with chance and choice, enjoying the historical evolution of gameboards alongside that of mapmaking. I recall that it all came together one day in the studio, when I picked up a gameboard I'd found at the flea market, and I started to paint in gouache within its format. Since then, I've continued to employ the quasi-triangular shape as an intrinsically interesting "character," and the grid as a way to explore the edges and tangent points of my feelings and thoughts; these are the main themes I have used as the structure for my work in recent years.

"Sorry," 2010, watercolor, gouache, 14.5 x 11.25 inches
© 2010 Ravenna Taylor

"Cross Roads," 2010, watercolor, 11 x 11 inches  © 2010 Ravenna Taylor

"Mount Of Knowledge," 2010, watercolor, gouache, 15 x 17.5 inches
© 2010 Ravenna Taylor

In my enjoyment of art of past centuries, I have at times almost envied the painters of the past, their commissions to paint the Annunciation, Saint Sebastian, Nativity, etc (not that I'd want to do that) -- I've seen so many such representations that I really don't see them at all anymore; what I see are the abstract qualities of the artists' interpretations: color choices, paint handling. In later centuries, dominant modes might be landscape, still life, or portraiture. In contemporary painting, we have an open field of possibilities for the generation of ideas.

"Coda," 2012, oil, linen, wood, 9 x 12 inches  © 2012 Ravenna Taylor

"Sound of Mind," 2011, oil on canvas, 21 x 23 inches © 2012 Ravenna Taylor

"Latitude," 2012, oil, linen, wood, 12 x 12 inches © 2012 Ravenna Taylor

In my own work, I honor the history of art. I compose my "pictures" to feel as though they might be representing something, without it being anything one might need to name or know. The shapes and forms of my compositions are necessary to me, but I don't need to tell that story or explain it. I just like to arrange and rearrange, juxtapose and recompose.

"Time Signatures," 2012, painted collage, 39 1/2 x 30 inches © 2012 Ravenna Taylor

In my next online-only exhibition, I will be showing some new work which continues to exploit the possibilities in these themes and subjects, alongside six works completed at intervals since 1999. The show is currently online, until April 14, at; there are twelve more images to be seen in the gallery archive, of work from 2011-12.

Photo credits, this post: Greg Benson Photo


  1. I realize now that your rounded triangles are also a shape that comes from making overlapping circles in a sacred design pattern of six circles around one, that expands to 12 circles. So, they have a deep meaning that you are tapping into. I don't think I've seen the watercolors from 2010 before, which are very beautiful, and I love the game board piece; it ties in to ancient pattern in a modern way.


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