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James E. Taylor wins gold medal in VA hospital’s Creative Arts Festival

Staff report

SALISBURY — James E. Taylor, a Salisbury artist, was awarded the gold medal for oil painting at the 2018 Creative Arts Festival held at the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center on Feb. 10.

His painting, “Where the Eiders Live — Monhegan, Maine,” is an 18-by-36-inch seascape, a picture of sea ducks feeding just off the rocky coast of Monhegan Island. The painting now advances to the national competition of the Creative Arts Festival, to be judged in May and held in Des Moines, Iowa, in October.

Last February, Taylor also was awarded the gold medal in oil painting at the 2017 Creative Arts Festival at the Salisbury VA. That work was titled “After Snowstorm, Early Light on a January Morning,” a snow scene in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he lived for many years.

That painting also advanced to the National Creative Arts Festival, where it was awarded the National Gold Medal in Oil Painting. Taylor attended that national festival, which was held in Buffalo, New York.

Taylor’s painting of eiders is a favorite subject of his. The eiders are a species of colorful sea ducks living and feeding on mussels and shellfish clinging to rocks 20 to 60 feet below the surface in the surf.

They populate the rockbound shorelines from Maine and Canada. The duck was almost hunted to extinction in the late 19th century when down feathers were greatly prized in comforters, according to Taylor.

The location of these particular eiders is in the shadow of Bald Head, the northern granite headland on Monhegan facing the Atlantic Ocean where many artists have painted since the mid-19th century.

Monhegan is an island 10 miles at sea from Port Clyde, Maine, reached only by ferry or mailboat. Monhegan in the Abenaki Indian language means “Great Island.”

Taylor painted along the Maine coast many times while living in Boston, working as a photographer, graphic designer, marine artist and illustrator after years in the Navy as a photographer’s mate.
He has lived in Salisbury for eight years since he left the Northeast, focusing on painting wildfowl, fish and North Carolina landscapes.
He teaches a small group of like-minded artists in atelier explorations of contemporary realism, drawing and oil painting out of Nepenthe Art Studio in Salisbury. More work can be seen on his website, jamesetaylorfineart.com, which has links to contact him for demonstrations, instruction and paintings.

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