Artist Goes Green

By Cheryl Kuck
The Brandon News and Brandon Shopper
November 13, 2002

   Artist Taylor Ikin, as delightful as her free-flowing vivid watercolors, demonstrates how she creates paintings on YUPO paper for Hillsborough County's Public Television (HTV 22) arts program hosted by public art coordinator Jan Stein.
   Ikin is in the process of creating a collection of 35 interpretive watercolors and her subject matter centers around the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition & Protection Program, known as ELAPP.
   In this program, county funds are used to purchase and preserve environmentally sensitive lands.  Many are in east Hillsborough County and around the Mafia River.
   "The 35 paintings will be featured at Tampa's water media gallery, Nuance, this May and then go on to the prestigious Capital Gallery in Tallahassee," said Stein.  "The show will travel to other spaces throughout the U.S. becoming a real showcase of Hillsborough County.  In addition, Taylor has received a commission for the creation of a poster for the county water department about the Alafia River ELAPP lands, some of which will be personally signed by her.  The poster will initiate a new level of public awareness of our greatest natural resource through art ... the new way to access technical information."
   Of this far-reaching project, Ikin muses; "I have lived in Antigua and vividly recall going three years without a single drop of rain.  You develop a respect for the importance of water.  When I hear someone talk about green lawns, I pull out my soapbox and ask if they would rather have a green lawn or a drink of water or a bath or be able to cook.  I'm a firm believer in xeriscaping.  If God wants it to grow, He'll water it!"
   Ikin is a volunteer for the Hillsborough County Arts Council and has produced works for the Jan K. Platt Public Library and the County Center.
   "I believe she is in a great place in her career to take on a project of this scope," Stein said.  "The people that purchase a painting will have a piece of these preserved properties in their own home.  It's a way to have access to these properties without having to travel to them."
   All properties are virtually inaccessible to the general public.  The site specific ELAPP paintings will include the golden aster, a flower, which grows only in this part of Florida, in the undeveloped area of I-75 north of Big Bend Road.  Ikin visits each site, taking extensive photographs and making field sketches before beginning the drawings that will evolve into the final painting.
   Ikin's use of her medium (watercolor on YUPO) is as unique as the project itself.  "YUPO is the perfect paper for this project because it is synthetic, totally environmentally sensitive ... no trees," the artist laughs.  "Completely nontoxic, there are no contaminates of any kind with Y UPO.  It's made for the printing market and used for things like bar codes.  The first time I used Y UPO," Ikin remembers, "actually the very minute my brush hit the paper, I knew it was right for me.  I threw away all my standard watercolor paper and have never looked back.  This paper is artistically revolutionary.  You can just wipe off anything you don't like.  For those of us who paint, it's wonderful to not worry about mistakes.  You just enjoy the razzle-dazzle trip."
   The paper enhances Ikin's own impressionistic style enabling her to create more movement and a rich texture not seen in traditional watercolor methods.  Watching the artist's rapidly moving brush, Stein nods her head in affirmation of the process and says, "Art imitates life.  That's where Taylor's work becomes so very important, so relevant."
   Taylor Ikin's work, "The Hillsborough County Collection," will be sponsored by YUPO as well as the printing of her biography and other works.  YUPO may be found through art supply catalogues such as Cheap Joe's and Xpedi Printing on Kennedy Boulevard.  The artists' magazine, "Watercolor Magic," will feature Ikin's paintings and the ELAPP Program this spring.  Questions or interest in her work should be emailed to her.

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