Noreen Taylor

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Meet artist Noreen Taylor who uses a technique called Theorem Painting.

Noreen Taylor began her work life included art therapy at a nursing home and with psychiatric patients. An illness forced her to give up work outside her home but provided her the opportunity to take up art full time. Now Noreen paints Theorem Paintings. This is an early American form of art created with stencils and hand painted embellishments.

This art form was primarily done by 18th century well to do young women. It was often a group activity and there were teachers who traveled from town to town to hold workshops for the young ladies. Their paintings were used to decorate their homes. It went out of fashion when cheap prints such as those by Currier and Ives became available.

Theorem is a mathematical term. Noreen thought that it may have been called this because several numbered stencils are used in combination to create a design. But she found that it was less about the numbers and more about the marrying of the various stencils together. Velvet was the main type of canvas theorem painters used, though it was also done on silk, and paper was used when fabric was too expensive. But velvet was used the most and so sometimes this form of art is called velvet painting.

Theorem paintings are what some might call mono prints because whether the designs are newly created or based on heirlooms, each resulting painting is unique. Each individual artist brings their own sense of color to the work. Many practitioners, particularly novices have a flat approach to the color.

Noreen spends a lot of time and effort bringing greater contrast and depth with her approach. The colors are built up from light to dark. The knap of the velvet provides the surface are to hold the paint giving the image more depth and provides for greater artistic expression. Once all the colors have been applied with the stencils details are added with a liner brush. Noreen says the painting really comes alive then.

Noreen has been exploring theorem paintings called Frakturs which is similar to hand painted Pennsylvania Dutch furniture from the same period. Matching framing is important for those who want their work to look authentic. Noreen takes her paintings one step further by antiquing them. This is accomplished by washing the painting in a coffee bath creating an aged and marbled look. All this effort is

Noreen feels like God drew her to this because she discovered it just at the time when her illness forced her to have a lot of free time. Noreen accepts commissions, teaches classes, and shows her work at a number of shows annually. Most recently she appeared in period dress demonstrating her technique at the Dover Days Heritage Festival. She will have work at the Odessa

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