A Father's Gift

Taylor still draws on father's talent
to create her watercolors of Madison

By Libby Richards
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (February 2000) – Karen Taylor's interest in art and drawing began only a few years ago.
She remembers sitting on her father’s lap in the evenings after he had come in from a long day’s work on their farm in northern Ohio. Together, they would draw pictures until her bedtime. Her father’s many years of experience with animals on the farm, coupled with his own talent, enabled him to teach his daughter how to draw them.
Those early years of practice developed into a love and talent for art that has continued throughout Karen's life and work.
“I really think I owe it all to my father and mother, Frances,” Taylor said. “All through school, they always encouraged me. They would always have paints and drawing materials, even when I didn’t have a lot of other toys.
"I think that helped me learn to be creative. If you have everything, there’s no need to invent anything.”
The support kept Taylor active in the art department throughout high school. Her parents saved enough money for her to take a correspondence course in art.
After high school, Taylor attended Fort Wayne Art Institute, where she met her husband, Stephen. Despite the warnings from others that a couple both involved in art would be too competitive and never last, they recognized early on that each worked in different mediums. Ignoring the warnings, the two married, a union that has lasted 34 years.
After studying fine arts for several years, the couple made the decision to join the Peace Corps. A move that may seem strange to some was the beginning of a life that included adventures and experiences as diverse and colorful as an artist’s pallet.
The Peace Corps took them to Bolivia, South America. It wasn’t until Karen became pregnant and contracted para-typhoid that the government sent the couple home early.
“You could stay with one or the other, but you couldn’t have both,” Karen recalls. “So the government sent us home, much to our disappointment. We had worked very hard to get to go.”
After returning to the United States, Stephen received his teaching degree, then became involved with the Artists in Schools program through the National Endowment for the Arts. Because of his interest, he became an "artist in residence" and in 1972 was sent to Madison, Ind.
Eventually, Karen herself became a "visiting artist," doing various demonstrations and working with children in area schools. The couple traveled to schools around Indiana. Much to the Taylors’ surprise and enjoyment, what started out as a one-year grant in Madison turned into seven years when the city re-applied for the grant.
“We were really fortunate to meet so many wonderful people and have the experience of traveling around the state,” Karen recalls.
Eventually, the couple purchased the 37-acre farm where they still live and made their home and studio.
Over the years, the couple has played host to a half-dozen exchange students from many countries and are both active in area schools, including Karen’s 10 years on the school board at Southwestern.
In 1983, Karen broke her back, requiring two years of recovery. It was during this time that she actually started to seriously study watercolor. Since then, it has become a high priority in her life.
Though her work has earned several awards and been displayed in many exhibits and shows, Karen concedes that she is still in the learning process.
“It’s like anything else. If you want to be wonderful at it, you have to work at it all the time,” Karen said.
Today, Karen’s passion is her tailor-made Art Gallery and Studio on their farm. There, she teaches classes on drawing and watercolor, as well as sponsors classes taught by other artists, including Bill Borden, Judi Betts, Duane Light and Rob O’Dell, just to name a few. Her work has garnered her membership in the Kentucky Watercolor Society, the Indiana Artist Club and the Watercolor Society of Indiana as a signature member.
Karen’s works representing the sights and architecture of Madison are among some of her favorites because of her love for the town.
The classes featured at her studio aren’t limited to watercolor, although drawing is something Karen believes is a necessity to any art form. Offerings from other artists are in basket weaving, sculpture and other mediums.

• Anyone interested in attending a class or needing any information about upcoming events is encouraged to call Karen at (812) 273-3935.

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