My name is Taylor Barton, and I am the 27-year-old artist behind Argama Art & Prints. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, I am an expat from southern Florida where I spent the majority of my life until I moved west to attend college. This is my story—of how an artistic kid traveled through art, music, medicine, and back to the thing that has always mattered the most—creativity.
As a child, it became clear immediately that I was drawn into art. Crayons and finger paints littered my room, markers and colored pencils sat at the top of my shopping list every school year. I doodled animals all day, every day. Our family always had pets, and I found myself undeniably drawn to nature and wildlife. My artistic drive and a love of animals became inseparable from the time I could hold a crayon.
In later years, my near constant doodling landed me in trouble in school innumerable times. When it came time to begin preparing for college and the next stages of my life, I struggled with choosing a path. I had always loved animals, and wanted to pursue veterinary medicine. But I also loved art, and thought I might be able to work as a tattoo artist or simply attend art school. I thought the matter settled for the next few years, while finishing high school and attending my first year at a university. I threw myself into Zoology studies, while remaining creative on the side.
But this wasn’t the path I ended up on. Ultimately, I obtained my Nursing license and entered the field to work. My love of visual art gave way to writing and I completed two sci-fi novels during college and quit drawing and painting altogether for a few years. After my books were finished, I felt lost. I was successful as a nurse,but something was missing, and I didn’t know what. I was getting by, but I wasn’t passionate about any of the things I was doing.
One day, I picked up a cheap set of watercolor paints and decided to design one of my first tattoos. I had dabbled in watercolor before, but had no idea this one little set of paints would lead to a complete overhaul of my life. I began painting again, and bought my first real professional paints. These were small pieces—quick little works that incorporated vivid, unnatural colors. I had almost no desire to paint nature in realistic values. After all, how could I possibly improve on what nature already mastered? I just wanted to learn how to paint first—I could always learn proper color theory later.
During that year, I became engrossed in the blossoming electronic music scene. The shy, timid version of myself gave way to a community of unimaginably accepting, encouraging and colorful people who showed a love and appreciation for the art I was making that no one had ever done before.
For the first time in my life, folks that I didn’t know, who had no obligation to support me, were pushing me to make art. I even sold my first prints and took my first commission. I traveled to dozens of music festivals and absorbed the fervent lights and colors. I had never been surrounded by the sheer ocean of creative energy as I was then. I learned what the true meaning of dedication was, and how it feels to be really and truly passionate about something.
I paint every day now, and watercolor has become my obsession. I especially love helping others to dispel the notion that watercolor is unforgiving or only for the exceptionally skilled. Wildlife remains my biggest inspiration, but I can’t shake the deep rooted love of color that appears in almost all of my work. In the short span of a year, I’ve shown art in almost a dozen different shows and I see no end in sight.
These days, I favor paints like Holbein and Winsor & Newton, and paint almost exclusively on heavy Arches paper. I also work extensively from reference photos, and use a hand held projector, called a Pico Projector, to help me incorporate complex and geometric designs into my work that would otherwise be next to impossible to draw freehand. I love strong, synthetic sable brushes as they give me the ability to create finely detailed work, and are far more affordable (and ethical!) than natural sable or squirrel hair brushes.
Many artists focus on a single style, or combination of styles. I feel most inspired by nature, but I also have a deep love of traditional Asian and Japanese art, and I love studying these styles by trying to replicate them in some of my own works. It is my goal to never create the same piece of art twice, or to narrow my focus too much. There are simply too many styles to study and to love. Maybe some day I’ll move onto oil painting, or acrylic, but I can’t imagine straying too far from my real first love—watercolor.
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!