'Painting is my gift'
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
SELF-TAUGHT artist Jerome Taylor has a knack for capturing the Jamaican countryside on canvas - and it is paying off for the St Ann-born artist.
After more than a decade making a living from painting, the artist is now celebrating his works being displayed in the Serengeti Gallery in Washington.
"I've been an artist from I was a little boy," explained Taylor. "Normally, as a little boy, you would have your pencil and you would do your little sketches. This is around 10 or 12 years old. When I reached about 15, I started to use colours. I started with crayons, then moved into water colours. Then I moved up to acrylic around age 18, 19, and started to learn more about art. It was at that age I realised I have the gift and decided to take it seriously.
"I get a lot of advice from other artists on how to be a better artist, so I learn by experience. I've been making a living from painting for over 12 years now."
Not fortunate enough to have attended a formal art school, Taylor, a Christian of the Pentecostal faith, taught himself by studying God's wonderful creations which he sees around him every day.
"What I do to study art to become a better artist is to study nature itself. When you study nature, you get to do the real art," Taylor told The Gleaner.
"Actually, to reach where I am, I couldn't have done it by myself. The Lord inspires me more to reach this level. I'm a self-taught artist who gets more knowledge by praying to God more."
Taylor is mobile and takes his work from place to place to sell after doing the paintings at home. Just last week, he was at an exhibition in Montego Bay.
"In Montego Bay, the people were awesome!" Taylor exclaimed.
"The exhibition was about Jamaica festival, so when the people saw the paintings, they remind them of old-time Jamaica."
And 'Old-time Jamaica' is Taylor's favourite theme.
Growing up in the Wild Cane district, Taylor is quite used to the typical Jamaican country living of yesteryear - when kids carried water from the standpipe at the roadside; when the so-called 'country bus' passed through the rural areas with horn blasting; when kids would play marbles in the road after school; or when Farmer John would lead his herd of goats along the road, searching for somewhere to tie them so they could feed; or when kids went to the river to swim.
"I specialise in country scenes because I was born in the country," the artist said. "I know what the country looks like. I love the country, the feelings of the country. I love to go way back in the old days. I am inspired by the countryside."
His country scenes find a place in the hearts of many Jamaicans, especially those who live overseas and come home to visit.
"They remind people of where they are coming from. You have people who leave from Jamaica as a little boy, where they used to carry water on their heads, and now they live in big countries. They are rich, but they like to look back when they were a little boy. The paintings remind people of where they are coming from."
In March 2012, one visitor was so impressed by Taylor's country-scene paintings that he bought four pieces to display in his Serengeti Gallery in Washington.
This has lifted Taylor's spirits even more, giving him a sense of satisfaction with the work he has been doing over the years.
"There's nothing to me but painting. I would choose no other career but art. When I was in school, grade seven to grade nine, the teacher would ask what we would like to become, and I always say I want to become an artist."