Carol Taylor is one of my very favorite quilt artists, and I was thrilled to be able to feature her work on the cover of the April/May issue of Quilting Arts. Carol uses color to stunning affect in her quilting designs, and I thought you would be interested in reading about her approach to color.
CT: I have always loved color ever since my first box of crayons! It just makes more joyous! I don't know that I have "an approach" to color, but just use it at will. I always laugh when a student tells me she is "afraid of color." What is there to be afraid of? I advise people to just go with the flow and add colors that please them in any combination. I think it takes all the fun out of it to worry about the color wheel and all, so I just try to use value (the lightness or darkness) and contrast to make things "pop" and "sparkle" and that seems to work for me.
VHD: I've asked this question to nearly everyone whose work appears in Quilting Arts April/May 2012: What is your signature color, and why is it so important in your artwork?
CT: I don't really have a signature color. In fact, I've never met a color that I didn't like and find useful. I suppose if I had to choose a favorite color, it would be green, but I think that has more to do with the peacefulness and freedom that it signifies to me, and you won't find that I use it any more than any other color in my work.
VHD: Your work has always struck me as joyous and life affirming. The colors sing, the patterns dance, and the quilting provides an undertone of tempo. In other words, each quilt you make is a piece of artwork in which all of the components work together like members of a fantastic jazz ensemble. How do you incorporate so much movement in your pieces?
CT: Again, I can't say that I have a formula for this, but I do tend to just allow things to flow. One thing that I believe helps is continuing to go across the room to look at the piece instead of staying too close up where you don't get the same "look" that a viewer gets when they approach from across the room. So when I am creating a piece, I continue to look at it from far away to see what is missing or what might draw the viewer in to take a closer look at it. My goal is to have the viewer enjoy my piece from across the room but get them interested enough in wanting to see it up close too.
VHD: When I see a "Carol Taylor" quilt, I immediately recognize it as yours. Your style is strong and clear. How did you develop such a strong artistic voice? What encouragement can you give emerging artists who are still developing their own individual styles?
CT: I think it definitely took me a while to even consider using the term "artist" in regard to me and my work. I finally got there, but not without making a whole lot of quilts. I believe in workshops and took lots of them every chance I got and I also finished every quilt I ever started (in a workshop or in my own studio). That doesn't mean i like all of them when I began either. I just kept working at making them better, and I believe that this made me grow and find other solutions to a design problem that I hadn't thought of at first. I also like the fact that I'm usually surprised at how a quilt turns out and it's often not anything like I thought it would be in the beginning.
Being prolific has helped me to grow too. When you make over 500 quilts, you're bound to learn more with each one, and all of that "practice" makes you better!
Carol currently has a solo show of 52 quilts at La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum in La Conner, Wash., now through June 30.