Artist Overcomes Late Start

Isabel Owens, News Editor

Senior Madeline Taylor realized her flair for portraiture art in early childhood, but could not enroll in a serious art class until junior year. Making up for lost time by taking art in both her junior and senior year, Taylor hopes for a career in illustrative art.

“I wasn’t an active kid, really. I didn’t like moving a lot. I liked things that I could do while sitting, and my great grandma was an artist. She did painting on animal skin, because my dad’s family is from Zimbabwe,” Taylor said.  “It’s just kind of always been there. My dad had some pieces that he was able to take with him when he came here.”

Taylor used what she could find at home for supplies throughout childhood, doing mostly “pencil drawings with a mechanical pencil on printer paper.”

“I tried all throughout middle school to get into an art class but it would always be full, so I didn’t really get to take one until freshman year, but the art classes at my school [in Massachusetts] freshman year only lasted a quarter, so it wasn’t very long,” Taylor said.

Taylor transferred to Campolindo several days before the start of her sophomore year, and was again unable to find space in an art course. “I didn’t get to take an art class until last [junior] year. It was Advanced Art Honors because I came in late sophomore year and kind of asked her -because I didn’t want to have to take Art 1 again because I had already done that at a different school- and I just asked ‘Can I just skip it? What would be the next one I could go to?’ and she just said that I could do that and Independent Portfolio,” she explained. “I just had two periods back to back.”

The experience has fueled Taylor’s belief that more art classes should be offered in schools. “Sometimes a kid who really wants to do art doesn’t get to because it’s full of people taking it who just want to fulfill their requirement,” she said. “It kind of sucks when the people really want to do it but they don’t get to because somebody taking it just has to, [rather than wants to.]”

As a child, Taylor explored her artistic talent by drawing people. “Mostly because I was never really good at drawing landscapes or nature,” Taylor said. “I think it [artistic preference] depends on the person. I liked the shapes of people better than nature because I felt like nature just has too many repetitive shapes.”

“I would just make up people or draw people that I googled; it was too hard for me to draw people that I knew,” she added.

However, Taylor has also occasionally sold her drawings to their subjects. “When I was younger sometimes it would be kind of random. One time when I was 9 in a restaurant, what I would do when they give you the paper mats to color or draw on, I used to just take pens and kind of just sketch the people around me and one time this lady gave me five dollars for it,” she said. “That made me really happy.”

Recently, Taylor has begun painting more and drawing less. “I really like drawing and painting people, although I’ve done a lot more painting recently, like big scale painting. I like to use pen and ink a lot, mostly because I like shading with line rather than just the color or value, so that’s kind of what those mediums are about,” she explained.

Taylor’s greatest difficulty with art has been “coming up with an idea and then trying to figure out how to visually show it.” She explained, “When you do it it comes out really awesome but getting to that point can take weeks sometimes.”

“Sometimes it’ll just be like you’re making a tiny change to the original idea and then somehow that leads to a different idea that you like even more, so you kind of don’t know whether to keep building on ideas or stick with one,” she added.

Art teacher Jill Langston and several teachers of Taylor’s summer classes have helped her “have more of a process” and “come up with ideas” more quickly, as well as cultivating her interest in art as a career.

“It’s what I’m going to go to college for, what I’m going to at least try and do professionally, somehow,” Taylor said, though she is concerned about income. “It’s not the safest career choice and I’ve definitely been hearing tons about that from my parents.”

“For a while they were really, really on the fence about it,” Taylor said of her parents. “It took me quite a long time to get them to let me go to art schools and I still get occasionally the ‘are you sure you don’t want to go to regular schools?’ and ‘you can use art to get in and then switch your major,’ but now they’re better about it.”

Though Taylor does not yet know which college she will attend, she knows that she’s going to major in illustration. “I chose that just because you can take it all over the place. You can illustrate children’s books or make movie posters. You can make concept art for movies or you can do magazine covers or alum covers for musicians. There’s a lot of things you can do with it,” she explained.

“I definitely know it won’t be stable,” Taylor said. “I’d rather live a more struggling life but at least get to keep doing what I like to do.”