Color has very real psychological effects on people; it can transform the mood of a space, a piece of artwork, and equally the mood of a person. While writing this, it is terribly overcast and rainy outside my window. However, inside, while looking at the vibrant paintings of Taylor Cox, the grey is a million miles away.

Based in Racine, Wisconsin, the artist creates rich paintings that are simultaneously abstract and realistic. Cox often uses thick strokes of brilliant colors in the abstract parts of her paintings, and shows off her talent in realism in the more realistic, figurative sections. Through her artistic eye, an array of colors transform into a roaring wave, a breathtaking sky, or a dynamic background for a person lounging at the beach.

In this interview, Cox tells us about the moment her interest in abstraction was sparked, the way she employs color as a tool, and the benefit (and joy!) of creating process videos of her art for social media.

"Paradise Island Brush" by Taylor Cox

What brought you to painting? What keeps you coming back to this medium?

My first love was drawing, and I distinctly remember being intimidated by painting. Drawing felt more natural and immediate to me as a medium. I was wrong and once I started experimenting, I began to love paint. I primarily use acrylic which dries fast and is immediate and forgiving.

Can you talk a bit about your interest in abstraction?

This answer begins with my obsession with realism. As soon as I was able to paint an apple realistically I was already bored. I absolutely love mixing abstraction and realism together. It is technically difficult but equally fun.

"Escaping Reality" by Taylor "Cox

What advice can you give to other artists who are thinking about making their work more accessible via prints and/or small works?

Find your own style and discover what you love to make. That comes across in how you present your work. Use social media as a tool to get people to your website. That clicked a few years ago when I started posting a daily project. I was able to get people to my website and not just swiping past my work on social media. I also recommend creating videos of your process and treating them as another creative outlet.

"Lazy River" by Taylor Cox

Color seems like such an important part of your practice. What inspires your vibrant palettes?

Color stimulates energy and that is a pretty cool tool to have as an artist. I always think back to being on the beach in the sun, with my eyes closed and how that feels. If I explain that in terms of color, it is a bright orangey-red with some bright neon magenta. I am inspired by how color makes me feel and what combinations influence what I paint.

Do you work with designers? How does that process work for you?

I occasionally work with designers, but I spend a lot more time doing commission work. Since I paint people/animals on my abstracts, it allows me to create custom work. One of my favorite commissions to do is in my paint swatch style. I can customize a family portrait of swimmers, sunbathers, surfers.

"Loop" by Taylor Cox

When entering your studio and beginning your work day, what’s the first thing you do to get into a creative mindset?

It looks different everyday. I’ll look through Instagram, read through magazines. The best start to a day is experimenting. I have a library of unfinished paintings and abstracts that I usually flip through and add onto.

What has been your favorite place to show your work so far?

I prefer to show my work through Instagram. I enjoy making videos and showing my process creating each piece. I am also proud to have my work at Liz Lidgett Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa. Liz has curated such an amazing gallery of unique artists who inspire me.

"Aquamarine" by Taylor Cox
"Beachin'" by Taylor Cox