One Tree. Three Years, Fifty Paintings
Publication date 12/1/2011
7.75 x 9.25 inches (19.7 x 23.5 cm), Hardcover
112 pages, 125 color illustrations
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It was an exercise to learn how to see, to understand just one thing in its greatest detail. Stephen Taylor came across the 250-year-old tree while on a walk in Essex, England, six years ago, shortly after the deaths of his mother and close friend a tragic time that brought him back to painting and then to an obsession with realism and color perception. He painted the same oak scores of times over a period of three years, in extremes of weather and light, at all times of day and night. Oak is nature's creed of endurance (the tree was standing when Jane Austen was just a baby) and of one man's promise to find beauty in a painful world.
Stephen Taylor is a painter, living and working in Essex, England.
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Oprah.com Book of the Week:
"Some books show you how to laugh, some show you how to think, but, every once a while, one will show you how to live. The exquisite Oak: One Tree, Three Years, and Fifty Paintings follows of the story of artist Stephan Taylor who decided to paint the same oak tree in the English countryside every day for three years.... As the oak changes by the month or hour, the surrounding environment changes.... A singular plant becomes a talisman for the passage of time and seasonsand you, as viewerbegin to change too, becoming more observant and aware of the tiny yet enormous natural transformations that take place each day and minute. Seeingin the truest senseis the lesson here, one that's taught with such elegance that you'll be bewitched into stopping and contemplating the birch or maple in your own yard that's servingas T.S. Elliot once described treesas "the still point of the turning world."
"His is a story that is uplifting in its universal ethos that you do what you know, and you make all that you can of it. Now, five years after Taylor packed up his easel and left the field for the last time, a book has been published of 50 of his paintings from that time. Entitled simply Oak, it is full of analysis of sunlight and shadow, of gradients of paint and how the eye plays tricks on the mind. It is the diary of an artisan, obsessive in its chronicling of technique and the thought processes that led to the final image."
"This is a lovely book for both painters and anyone who appreciates this visual art. And fans of oaks, of course."
"A profound treatise on beauty, change, and the enormous challenge of seeing the real world clearly."
"Uplifting in its universal ethos that you do what you know, and you make all that you can of it. Now, five years after Taylor packed up his easel and left the field for the last time, a book has been published of 50 of his paintings from that time. Entitled simply Oak, it is full of analysis of sunlight and shadow, of gradients of paint and how the eye plays tricks on the mind. It is the diary of an artisan, obsessive in its chronicling of technique and the thought processes that led to the final image. "
A Common Reader:
"Stephen Taylor demonstrates the results of his determined art.... He found that as he looked at each iteration of the oak tree he observed a creation so different from the last that it was like looking at a different tree, his detailed observation stripping away preconceived ideas of oak tree and replacing them with a wholly new discovery each time he painted."
"The plates are gorgeous and the text informative. Some of the work is impressionistic and some realistic, almost like a photograph. I read Oak in one sitting of several hours and spent some of the time showing various plates to my wifewho thought some photographs. The plates alone are vivid, often visibly textured, and enjoyable.... Taylor shows us that in art, as in life, mantra as material can be exceptionally rewarding."
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