by Jim Mulligan
While they say art is in the eye of the beholder, there are few classical artists whose work would not be appreciated by the masses. One would be hard pressed to harshly criticize Monet or Da Vinci, or speak ill of Michelangelo’s work. Even Pablo Picasso, while his style may be too abstract for some, created images that most would agree, draw the viewer into his world, evoking emotion and contemplative thought. Whether one loves an artist’s particular style or not, even critics can appreciate the skill it takes to render pictorial representations of the world around us on a two-dimensional canvas or paper with just the strokes of a brush or pencil. So, when it is done well, even the most novice art aficionados among us are able to behold the beauty.
One need not look beyond our little town of Reedley to find great art. Additionally, not only do we have artists to boast about, we have talented, young, budding artists. One such example of a young artist who just burst onto the scene, recently winning the Blossom Trail art competition, is Tamsen Taves. Taves is as homegrown as they come, attending local schools including Immanuel High and Reedley College. She is currently a student at Fresno State where she is pursuing two degrees, Business Administration/Marketing and, of course, Fine Art/Painting & Drawing. After our brief conversation recently, while she is a serious business studies, it was obvious to this reporter that her passion for art drives most of what she does.
Like many folks who are talented in a particular field, Taves is reserved when it comes to describing her artistic ability and shies away from being boastful. While admitting she has had a love of artistic endeavors since she was a child, she explained that it has only been in the last few years that art, especially painting, has become such an important endeavor for her. Some time ago, she began dabbling in drawing with pencils/graphite and doing some acrylic painting. But about three years ago she took on oil paints and has hasn’t looked back.
When seeing Taves’ work, one immediately realizes that her painting style heavily favors two of the artists she most admires (besides her mother that is): Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent. Her pieces are bold and bright, while imbuing a dreaminess by the use of soft edges and feathery brush strokes. They definitely evoke a sense of realism, but allow the viewer leeway to interpret the mood and connect her image to their own memories. I was instantly transported to the chilly, early spring peach orchards of my youth when I first saw her award winning “Spring Grandeur.” When I viewed her “Fig Garden Charm,” not at first knowing the exact location that inspired it, I was immediately immersed in beautiful memories of enjoying coffee outside a Paris café.
In addition to inspiration from her parents who, Taves says, “Always encouraged me to continue drawing and painting,” she is motivated by nature and God’s creation. Taves paints about one piece per week. When she’s not focused on a portrait or still life, you can find her out in the field, perched on a coastal hill, or in the fields of the Central Valley. It was her oil on canvas interpretation of the quintessential Reedley peach blossom that recently catapulted her art into the public eye. The 11” x 14” painting of delicate, snowy pink flowers emerging from the gnarled branches of the Prunus persica garnered her the grand prize of the 2021 Blossom Trail competition. Her winning image became the official poster for the Fresno County Blossom Trail.
As I hinted at above, Taves’ mother, Carrie Taves, is an accomplished painter in her own right. “I love being able to paint together and talk about art and painting with my mother.” Taves focusses a lot on self-improvement of her own techniques when painting and relishes the ability to better herself with and through painting sessions with her mom. They can often be found together, easels out, painting en plein air. “I really hope to be in a gallery one day like my mom.”
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