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All of my artwork is based on experience of place. I am fascinated by landscapes, waterscapes, maps, charts, and topography. Early on, I captured landscapes in photographs and sketches. I filled notebooks with watercolors, hand drawn maps, and notes about the places we visited.  My earliest paintings were almost documentary, based on photographs of far-flung locales, often those viewed while traveling by sailboat in the Pacific Northwest.

I studied the work of the eighteenth and nineteenth century explorers, mapmakers, and expedition artists, from the maps made by Charles Preuss of the Oregon Trail to the  sketches and paintings of Thomas Moran. The more we sailed, the more interested I became in coastal views, the hand drawn renditions of critical headlands and harbor entrances that helped sailors navigate along the coastal waterways.

In 2008 and 2009, we sailed south to the Sea of Cortez. The rugged mountains rising abruptly from the Baja California shoreline were in stark contrast to the tiny fishing camps and villages.  I was delighted to explore an unfamiliar color palette. We traveled to Mexico again in 2011 and 2012.

Between sailing expeditions, we return to hometown Portland, Oregon. Here I most often paint plein aire along the Willamette River or on Sauvie Island. A highrise apartment has provided distant, aerial views of the river and of the industrial operations at Ross Island. Another set of paintings are based on up close explorations of wetlands as seen from the seat of my kayak. With these paintings, I am trying to work toward a sense of the place, even to abstract the view and represent its essence in layers of paint and interplay of light and color.

I have always recorded my impressions of place with photographs, and often rely on photographs of a fleeting scene as a source for painting. Increasingly, I struggle to free my paintings from photographic images, painting from memory and abstracting a landscape image. In turn, I have begun to make different kinds of photographs. I am seeing color and texture for itself and photographing vignettes that might be called painterly. Now it seems as if there is a more interesting dialog between painting and photography, abstraction and representation.

I have compiled several books based on our travels and my paintings and photographs. In 2008 I self-published a book called Four Summers, available on Blurb. In 2009, I studied Book Arts, and bound a book of handwritten and illustrated pages chronicling our journey from Canada to the Sea of Cortez, and back again. Different book forms open another dialog, a conversation about storytelling, recording facts, or expanding on passions.

Catherine Taylor

July, 2012