Stephen M Taylor is “The Artist Next Door”

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Stephen M Taylor is "The Artist Next Door" by Kimberly Crawford

“Don’t touch Daddy’s art”, Stephen M. Taylor reminds his 3-year-old daughter. His 5-year-old takes her younger sister by the hand and guides her away from the wall. The older daughter is used to that instruction by now. Taylor’s work and family life frequently collide. This is because Taylor, his wife, four children, a guinea pig, a cat and a dog share a three bedroom condo in the Irvine neighborhood of Woodbridge, which is also the home of Taylor’s burgeoning career in fine art.

A recent graduate of the Roski School of Fine Art at the University of Southern California, this father of four works out of his home, caring for a 6-month-old baby, the 3-year old, the 5-year-old and a 17-year-old. Taylor’s wife, Celia, works fulltime.

If Taylor is living the life of a struggling artist, it is not in the traditional sense of the term. His day starts at 5:30 a.m. with diaper changing, breakfast making and distracting the kids while Mom gets ready for work. At 7am, his wife, and the two oldest leave and Taylor begins to prep the dining room for his work. Sometimes he sets up his computer to continue writing the second installment of a series of books, the first of which, “Boys Who Slay Dragons” was published last year. Other days, he is covering the floor of the dining room with drop clothes and taping up a piece of art to the wall to continue its evolution. “On most days, my daughter determines what type of art I will produce that day”, says Taylor. “If she stays occupied, I will paint with oil. If she needs her Daddy, it might be pastels or charcoal because they are easier to clean up when she gets into them.”

Except for framed finished pieces that adorn the walls, there is little evidence that an artist lives here. Because he shares this space with his family, he cleans up from his productions everyday. By the time his wife comes home from work, there is little evidence that Taylor was painting. “This is not a typical artist’s life. I don’t sleep ‘til noon; I don’t go out and enjoy the art scene. If I were doing that, I wouldn’t be creating art.”

His work ranges in size from 8” x 11” to 190” x 40”. The black and whites are edgy, uneasy and structured. The color pieces are within the Abstract Expressionism foundation with symbolism in every hue.

Taylor is determined to support his family by selling his artwork, refusing to compromise it to hobby-status. While he learned the tools of his trade at a highly ranked institution, he is learning the business of art the hard way. “Our professors didn’t teach us the business side. They taught us how to create art, and how to produce in different mediums, but not how to make money doing this as a profession”, says Taylor. He has learned the business with an entrepreneurial spirit: developing a focused business plan, utilizing both socially-networked and traditional marketing and budgeting some of the couple’s pooled income for his art showings.

One such showing is scheduled for June 17th through the 19th at the 2nd City Council Art Gallery in Long Beach. Taylor knows it will be the first of many, but for him, this is a big first – impressions will be made, his confidence boosted or shattered. Celia, Taylor’s wife and manager, is the event producer of this first show. She expressed her pride at his dedication. “Anyone less committed to their art would have given up a long time ago”.

While not his favorites, Taylor admires clear representatives of success in the field, like Wyland and Thomas Kinkade. Taylor believes his life is already successful. “I am blessed to be able to live this life. I have the rare privilege to raise my children and work on my passion. Most men my age do not get to do that.”

For more information on Stephen M. Taylor, visit his website at StephenMTaylor.com

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