Jillian Taylor – An Artist who Captures Boston’s Beautiful Landscape
“Boston is, simply, the place I feel most at home in the world.”
Jillian Taylor, talented Boston artist, can paint anything, but she chooses to paint what’s right in front of her. Jillian’s recreation’s of Boston’s unique landscape is captivating others in her community.
Can you tell me about your background?
I grew up in East Weymouth, Massachusetts with my mother and my older sister and brother. My neighbor had a tree in her yard that I would often climb as a kid; I could see the Boston skyline from the top. It was a beautiful view! Climbing that tree was one of my favorite things to do back then (we didn’t have cable TV).
I graduated from Weymouth High School in 1997 and headed straight to Boston to attend MassArt (Massachusetts College of Art, now Massachusetts College of Art and Design).
Can you share an unforgettable story happened during your life in Boston?
I work in film and am often working outside, in various parts of the city. We in the film crew try to disturb residents as little as possible while we’re working. But, inevitably, our blocking off of a street or having 100 crew members crammed into a small space will inconvenience somebody. This one day last summer, I was working outside in the North End. We had to block off a narrow side street for filming and I expected nearby residents to be (rightfully) aggravated with us. Boy, was I wrong.
I have never been treated with such kindness as I was that day. Rather than being met with arguments or complaints, I was invited to dinner, introduced to families, hugged and kissed. It was surreal. I will never forget the way we were received that day by the folks in the North End. People may say Boston is an “unfriendly” city, but they could not be more wrong.
When and why did you start painting? Any story behind it?
I can’t even recall a time when I wasn’t drawing, so I must have started early. I remember being asked when I was 6 years old what I wanted to be when I grew up, and answering “an artist or an astronaut.” Creativity of all kinds was encouraged in my family. My maternal grandfather, in particular, nurtured my love for drawing and painting and told me to “always make time for art”. I knew he was speaking from experience and that he didn’t want the drudgery of everyday life to get in the way of creative expression. His advice still resonates with me today.
Why choose Boston landscape, rather than any other topic?
Boston was honestly the first thing to come to my mind when I decided I wanted to do a coloring book calendar. It’s the place I’m most familiar with and most fond of, and I would love for more people to know about or identify with the places and things all over the city that give it character. I love the idea of people taking the time to color some of those places and bring their own perspective into it. I know how I feel about Boston; getting to see how other people color my illustrations will allow me to see how they feel, and I think that’s really cool.
Who/what inspired you to become the person you are today?
There were and are many people who have inspired me in my life. I could never list them all! My maternal grandfather, Martin E. Raftery, was the biggest inspiration for me though. We were both members of the Weymouth Art Association until his death in 2007, and he and my mother both sat through science lectures with me so I could attend Space Camp in 1989. I’ve had good role models.
Do you have any story funny, touching, or important to you that you’d like to share with us?
I’m currently working toward finishing my undergraduate degree at Northeastern. I started out majoring in biological sciences. But, after years of study, my work schedule wasn’t going to coordinate with Northeastern’s Saturday course offerings well enough for me to continue with that course of study. I was at a crossroads; I debated switching my major or giving up on finishing my degree, partially due to the financial aspect of continuing.
I decided to switch my major (to technical communication). Even though I might not end up with a degree in what I’d hoped for, I’d put so much work and effort (and money) into it already, I was going to finish it. As soon as I’d made that decision, I received a letter in the mail informing me that I had been awarded two merit scholarships to cover part of my tuition. The moral of the story is, do what you know in your heart is right, and the rest will fall into place. Never give up on something because you can’t see in advance how it’s going to shake out. Just go for it.
What are your passions in life?
I love filmmaking, creating portraits (ink and Lego are my favorite to work with), all things science, and my family (not necessarily in that order). Every day of my life involves those four things and my pursuit to improve, learn more, and perform better. My husband and two children are totally supportive of my often insane lifestyle (film work hours can be nuts). I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest human being on the earth.
What does Boston mean to you?
Boston is, simply, the place I feel most at home in the world. Its rich history of rebelliousness and strength is still palpable. The city is filled with people of diverse backgrounds who contribute astonishing things to the world. I have so much respect for people who will brave these winters!