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Port St. Lucie called painter home



Taylor Loughlin

Loughlin’s Peace is an example of how she blends the abstraction of water with the realism of the figure.

Growing up here influenced her works

BY WILLI MILLER

For Taylor Loughlin, there’s no place like home. When the artist returned to the area after earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Flagler College, Port St. Lucie is where she settled. She brought with her the school’s Art and Design Award for Painting.

Growing up in a family of creative people made the life of an artist the natural path for Loughlin to walk. Her father, David, has created pencil art for as long as she can remember.

His mother, Paula, was an artist, working for a greeting card company. “She lived in New Jersey and used to send me handmade greeting cards in the mail.” On her mother’s side, the women were great seamstresses and cooks and her brother, Jason, is a musician in Brooklyn.

Loughlin was born in Palm Beach Gardens, but moved to Port St. Lucie with her parents as an infant. She attended Manatee Elementary and St. Lucie West Middle School, and then went to Fort Pierce’s Lincoln Park Academy, where she completed the International Baccalaureate program.

EARLY ART INTEREST

Loughlin didn’t decide that art was her calling until she reached high school, but as a youngster “I would make small doodles on anything I could get my hands on,” the artist says. “I also loved making small, hand-drawn books as a child,” a lead-in to her high school studies at Lincoln Park, where one of the yearlong projects was the making of an art book. The premise was to choose a famous artist to study through the year. “You would paint a portion of the artist’s pieces on each page and then write your thoughts and summary about that piece over top of it.” Loughlin says she shares some of the struggles that her chosen artist, Edvard Munch, wove through his work.

Saturdays became an extension of her studies, with painting classes under Vero Beach artist Ellen Fischer in her Fort Pierce studio. “I started with still-life drawings and worked my way into acrylic painting. At the time, I used ads out of magazines I thought were interesting as reference material,” one more guidepost along the path to her current passion for exploring the interaction between water and skin.

“LOVE AFFAIR” WITH OIL

This self-described “true Floridian” lives in Port St. Lucie, keeps her studio in Stuart and is involved in the arts in all three Treasure Coast counties. “My studio space in downtown Stuart is a new venture for me and I am excited about having a space just for creating. It is about 380 square feet, with a great little front porch, and is within walking distance of downtown Stuart. I wanted to have a place where I was around other artists in the area and Stuart seemed to fit the bill.”

Although Loughlin started out working with acrylics, by the time she hit college, she had fallen in love with oil paints. “I have had a love affair with them ever since. I love the texture of oils and how they sit on the canvas.” Along the way she has tried her hand at drawing, printmaking, large paper installations and clay.

“I did a lot of hand-building ceramics in college, as well. Ceramics is a very therapeutic medium for me and is a nice break from the brush and canvas. I have also done a lot of pointillism/stippling work with Sharpies over the years.” During her time at Flagler College, Loughlin — on a 40-foot scaffold — worked with art students from Spain to restore the original ceiling paintings in the school’s dining hall.

In her painting classes, Loughlin focused on the figure by studying figure drawing and figure painting in tandem, adding some modeling to be able to experience all aspects of the process. “I began taking images of myself, eventually adding water as a main theme to my own work. I had this great white-tiled, huge shower in my apartment and would experiment with how the water fogged on the glass shower doors or ran down the curves of the face, arms and hands.”

SELF-PORTRAITS

Gradually, Loughlin’s work moved into a series of self-portraits. “Painting self-portraits is a very humbling process and after a while also helped me focus on what an ear, lip, eye really can look like. I could paint my own ear a hundred times and still see something different each time — it is never the same thing twice.”

When she moved back to Port St. Lucie, her work transitioned from taking images in a shower setting to using a model and shooting images in a pool, Loughlin says. “I was drawn to the idea of how the abstraction of water interacts with the realism of the figure. It also seemed like a natural progression since I was back in South Florida, where we are surrounded by the beauty of the beach and beautiful water. It was a matter of blending the two subject matters to make a cohesive theme.”

The goal in her current work is to see how skin tones are affected by the reflective nature of water and how the image becomes abstracted in water. She says, “My work involves mixing highly saturated skin tones with blue hues to illustrate the intricacies of how the flesh and water interact.”

PSL “FEELS LIKE HOME”

Loughlin, who lives near Tradition, says growing up and living in Port St. Lucie has influenced her art. Besides her parents, her grandparents, Paul and Marlene Neal, also live in Port St. Lucie. “Anytime you have a strong emotional connection to a place, I think it has an effect on how you perceive your surroundings, which ultimately gets incorporated into my work,’’ she says.

She’s seen the transformation of Port St. Lucie firsthand, from the expansion of Gatlin Boulevard, the growth of Tradition and the construction of the Port St. Lucie Community Center, where she had the first solo art exhibit in 2013.

When she’s not painting, she can be found attending local events at Tradition, eating at local restaurants or visiting one of the city’s many parks. “Port St. Lucie just feels like home,’’ she says. “Even with its continued growth, it feels like a small community.’’


MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

Taylor Loughlin’s work can be seen in the 25th Annual All-Florida Juried Arts Show at the Court House Cultural Center Gallery, 80 East Ocean Blvd., Stuart, through Nov. 14. She is a member of the Cultural Council of Indian River County and the Arts Council of Martin County. She also has an online presence at www.taylorloughlinstudios.com