“I am not so much interested in the leopard’s spots as I am in its power and stealth.”
For sculptor Kristine Taylor, inspiration comes in many forms like the wild birds and animals that live around her house, or even from a captivating photograph. Once inspired, Kristine will research the animal to understand it's behavior and how that behavior reveals the essence of it's being.
“I prefer to study live subjects, but often I use photographs and sketches. I look for a pose or a subtle gesture that captures the animal’s beauty and grace, even its plight. I enjoy getting to know the animal even more intimately through the sculpting process itself.”
Kristine cannot remember a time when she didn't think of herself as an artist. As a child, she spent her time drawing and painting her family's horses and dogs and the wild animals in the fields and woods around their rural home. Her mother was an oil painter who gave Kristine lots of art supplies and space in her studio. While her father, an engineer, spent his spare time building things in his wood shop and teaching Kristine how to use tools. Both influential skills and curiosities that would later become pivotal in her career choices. Her love of art led to a B.A. Degree in Fine Art from Stanford University. After which, she spent several years doing machine work for a scale model/prototyping company followed by a career in graphic design. In this time she also met her husband and became a mother.
It wasn't until Kristine's son was heading off to college that she decided to dust off the dream of making art her career. While cleaning out a closet, she came across her jewelry making tools and some clay. Thats when her early childhood fascination of animals combined with her love of working with her hands and artistic talents clicked, and she hasn't stopped sculpting since! She laughs looking back at a sculpting class she took at Stanford, because she hated it! Maybe it was the timing, the teacher or where she was at in life, but the experiences between then and now have given Kristine the eye, talent and passion for her sculpture to realize her dream of being a full time artist.
Kristine's sculptures of animals go beyond just being representational. Her years of experience observing and sketching animals gives her the eye to capture a subject’s personality and spirit by focusing on form rather than detail. This refined style is based on the strong line of the pose which captivates the viewer and stirs their imagination to add the details.
“I find all manner of creatures fascinating, and I am moved by how the character of individual animals is revealed by their behavior and movement; a pose can speak volumes about who an animal really is. I capture this silent communication of an animal's spirit by using a simplified refined style, that lets the animal tell its own story in its own way.”
Katherine also likes the limited role that color plays in bronze sculpture. It allows her to concentrate on the animal’s form to capture aspects of the animal that are often overshadowed by its colorful pelt or plumage.
Kristine begins every sculpture working with epoxy clay, a self-hardening clay that can be carved, machined, sanded, and polished.
“Some pieces just seem to quickly take shape, while with others I may find myself changing the original form to enhance the pose or even putting the piece on a shelf for a while. I may stare at the shelved piece for a long time, but then one day, I see what is lacking or incorrect and can continue to bring the work to completion.”
When she is satisfied with the master carved in clay, it is then cast in bronze at an artwork foundry. Kristine works very closely with the skilled and talented artists at the foundry who transform her clay sculpture into bronze. These are the stages where she makes the final decisions and adjustments that finally bring the piece to “life”.
All of her sculptures are cast in limited editions of 15. The foundry must first make the molds that will be used for each of the cast pieces. Depending on the shape of a sculpture, it may be one mold or it may require many to create the bronze pieces that are then welded together. Each piece in the edition then gets it's chosen patina, which Kristine works closely with patina artists at the foundry to get just right.