By C. J. Lott
I can’t think of a much better way to spend an evening than discussing art, life and culture with an old friend. This particular evening I had the opportunity to catch up with fellow artist Orrie Taylor. I hadn’t talked to Orrie in a while, so I knew we would have a good bit to ramble on about. I have known this dude for years and I have always been a big fan of his work. Orrie is also one of the few people I told about my ideas to someday publish an online magazine about Tuscaloosa, focusing on art and culture. I promised him that he would be one of my first features. About 7 years later, here we are.
Orrie’s story is homegrown. Born and raised in Northport, he has spent pretty much all of his life in the Tuscaloosa area. I first met him while attending middle school at Riverside Junior High and at the time he had already developed quite the reputation as an artist. We both moved on to Tuscaloosa County High, studying art each year but for whatever reason, never had a class together. During the 90’s, house parties were “the thing to do” for most teens in the Tuscaloosa area. It was at this time that Orrie and I both gained popularity for producing hand drawn party flyers for our school mates. Soon after this, Orrie’s creative ambitions took him to oil paintings and very meticulous pen and ink work.
He developed the inspiration for his current paintings by flipping through the pages of an encyclopedia while studying Vincent Van Gogh. On his largest piece to date, “Sun Spots,” you can certainly see the influence of Van Gogh. In my opinion, however, Orrie’s work is much more vibrant and less dreary. The brush strokes in Sun Spots seemingly come to life if you gaze into it long enough. Its bold and vibrant colors vividly flow almost endlessly on the large canvas from one end to another. The long legged, voluptuous, scarlet figure in his piece titled “Curiosity” reminds me of the ever prevalent afro centric amazons of Outkast’s album artwork. The tone and mood of “Autumn Stroll” will lift anyone’s spirit with its brilliant yellow hues. The time it takes to produce each painting, one deliberate brushstroke at a time, reflects Orrie’s dedication. The tedious efforts put into his paintings are minimal in comparison to his pen and ink work. Each piece is created by using a simple ball point pen to produce a culmination of dots and circles. The shading and detail are precise in each one and the subject matter is abstract and organic. Orrie has mastered this method, in my opinion. It’s undoubtedly my favorite medium of his work as of yet.
Tuscaloosa if full of creative individuals and Orrie Taylor is one of its best and brightest artists. Hopefully, in the near future, you all will have the chance to see his work up close. He’s currently working on new projects, which include t-shirt graphics and illustrations. Needless to say, if you do hear of his name in upcoming events, please go out and show your support. You will be impressed.