The collection is his work over almost a century, divided decade by decade including drawings from life, etchings, wood cuts, oil, pen and ink sketches – but mostly his preferred medium – traditional watercolour. It reveals his journey through life seeing, appreciating and recording the beauty he saw.
Norman’s work did not seek publicity or recognition. Therefore viewing this collection brings a sense of welcome relief from the commercial world of modern art which has come under recent criticism for the lack of skill and meaning behind some exhibitions. [see link to Julian Spalding’s article on Damien Hirst’s Exhibition at the Tate].
Watercolour painting is not easy and it is often associated with amateurs. It makes a fitting retirement hobby, because the paint dries quickly and the materials are simple. Norman had people believe he was pursuing a personal hobby but actually his work was an outlet of expression, a necessary pastime, and it was his gift to friends and relatives.
The trick with watercolour is to be happy with the first stroke, to skilfully let the paint spread out and leave just enough paper to give a convincing light wash feel, and to resist over-painting the piece. For this reason a master of watercolour is a rarity in the modern art world. Norman Taylor was a master of moderation, simplicity, authority and letting things “be”. His personality was therefore perfectly suited to this very free and gentle art form. He was particularly skilled at conveying the shadows, reflections and perspectives in his paintings.