Tammy Taylor, international wildlife artist, was at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum about three weeks ago with her grandma, Elsie Sherwood. The two drew pictures together when Taylor was four years old and that was just the beginning of her artistic career that has spanned 30 years. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published 04:00 Apr 01, 2022

By Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

International wildlife artist Tammy Taylor remembers sitting on her grandma’s knee when she was just four years old as the two drew pictures together in the kitchen of her Ridge Valley area home.

Taylor was surrounded by encouragement to draw.

“When we went on holidays, my parents would buy me a sketchpad,” she said.

Growing up on a farm, Taylor had subjects to draw right at home.

“Cats, dogs, horses. Our neighbour would give me paper and some Western Horseman magazines. I’d draw what I saw in there, and he’d look at my drawings later.”

She steered toward depicting wildlife, drawing from pictures and sketching still life.

Taylor is acclaimed for creating detailed work, and that attention to detail started early.

She remembered art class with teacher, Miss Lawrence, in Grade 7.

“We did a gridding exercise,” she said.

“I picked a picture of a wood duck from a magazine. I matched everything in that photo. That pencil crayon picture is what pointed me in the direction that I went in—realism.”

“It was really important for me from a young age—probably about 12—to be accurate,” she added.

“By (then) I was really able to do some pretty accurate sketches. I can recall stuff, and it’s an attention to detail as well.”

 Taylor’s ability to create works in such detail is noted in her brochure.

“Her work is so detailed and life like,” said Lois Hannan, curator and owner of Gossamer Gallery.

“I have watched people be brought to tears by her work.”

Taylor does not simply copy exactly what she sees.

“Some people want a photo-realistic look,” she said.

“My goal is to make it look real, but I don’t want to mimic the photo. I’m comfortable with having some gestural strokes and taking a bit of artistic license too. I’m working with softening things, leaving some stuff out.”

“There’s elements that don’t work in the composition,” she added. “If you’re too tightly bound to your reference photo, you lose that emotion, that artistic quality.”

Taylor started selling paintings, doing commission work, when she was a teenager.

“I sold my first one when I was 12 of a simple sunset. By the time I was 15, I had sold about 20, and that’s when I moved into wildlife, a mixture of landscapes and wildlife.”

She added, “That neighbour who used to encourage me from a young age, he’s probably my biggest collector. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than having someone enjoy my work so much.”

As well as selling her creations, Taylor has taught art classes for many years, including for a homeschooling organization, and in Edmonton.

She described art as a “tough market.”

“There’s a lot of artists out there. There’s more and more people in the field now, and it has changed too,” she said.

“(Years ago,) you had to go out and do shows, be visible to people, but now it’s online. It’s huge.”

Taylor has shown in New York, Arizona, China and across Canada.

Her work is found in private and public collections around the world.

She is a Ducks Unlimited National Portfolio Artist and a signature member of Artists for Conservation. 

During that venue in Vancouver, Taylor does live demonstrations.

“The great thing about that is I’m surrounded by the world’s best wildlife artists,” she said.

“We’re all like-minded.”

Half the proceeds from sales at this event go conservation causes. Taylor’s is Ducks Unlimited.

It’s one of many ways she shows her love of wildlife.

“I’m passionate about wildlife,” she said.

“There is so much beauty around us. It’s worth preserving in paintings or drawings.”

Taylor will be at the Jasper-Yellowhead Museum on April 9 at a reception, where she will give an artist talk at 7 p.m. about conservation.

Her work has been on display for a few weeks there, and she has had many chats with people during her visits.

This item is reprinted with permission from the Fitzhugh, Jasper, Alberta