At 86, Arie Reinhardt Taylor isnâ€™t content to spend her days relaxing in a recliner, snoozing in front of the television.
Sheâ€™s an artist, and has been for more than 50 years. She isnâ€™t planning on that changing any time soon.
â€œIt gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you finish a painting and you sit back and look at it,â€ she said. â€œIt makes me happy to paint.â€
Born in Lincoln County, Taylorâ€™s parents moved her just across the county line to Catawba County when she was an infant. The house she lives in now sits on what was once her grandparentsâ€™ property.
In the 1950s, Taylor had a neighbor who took art classes at Lenoir-Rhyne College. Taylor was intrigued.
â€œI always wanted to do it, even in school,â€ Taylor said.
She dabbled in art from a very young age and took classes off and on for a few years in the early 1960s.
At the end of her courses, Taylor received certification, but she says she feels mostly self-taught, having learned what she knows about painting by reading and practicing.
Art lit a fire in Taylor that still burns today.
â€œMemory painting is the main thing I do,â€ she said. â€œI like to do old home places.â€
Currently, Taylor is working on a painting of an old house on N.C. 10 that belonged to Vance Heavner, a former minister at Corinth Baptist Church in Vale. She plans to donate it to the church to mark the occasion when they dedicate a new fellowship hall to Heavner.
Taylor has photos of the house with trees drawn where they used to stand. She says the place is run down now, but she is painting it as she remembers it was in its glory days, complete with the rose bushes.
It isnâ€™t unusual for Taylor to base her work on photographs or sketches.
A painting of her late sister Goldie Ellis was done from a photo Taylor took of her in a field of daisies.
One of the old Cat Square store â€“ which became a popular place for dances in the 1940s after the owner retired and was called the â€œGrand Ole Opryâ€ â€“ was painted from a small pencil sketch someone gave Taylor.
A painting called â€œThe Moonshinersâ€ depicts an old moonshine still.
â€œI did that from a postcard I got from the mountains years ago, probably in the 1960s,â€ Taylor said.
Most of Taylorâ€™s pieces are for sale, and she also has prints of many available. That said, there are a few she doesnâ€™t intend to part with, including one of her sister and one she did in the 1970s for which her father made the frame.
Now, Taylorâ€™s son David Gross makes the wooden frames for her paintings.
Apparently, artistic talent runs in the family, as daughter Audrey Sherrill is also an artist, specializing in portraits.
Taylor keeps a scrapbook with photos of the many paintings she has sold. The ones she hasnâ€™t are displayed in a gallery she had built out of her old garage.
Taylor has sold her art to people from all over the country. She has had a number of people from Florida who have come to the area in search of pottery and found her work instead.
Since she started painting seriously in the 1960s, Taylor says she has done at least 500 pieces. She says each normally takes her about a week to complete.
The process begins with a thumbnail sketch on notebook paper. She uses the sketches to go by when she begins her actual paintings.
Taylor retired from Comfort Chair at 60 and says painting was always a hobby, even though she sold a painting called â€œSnow Sceneâ€ fairly early on.
â€œThe first one I sold was at the end of one of our semesters,â€ Taylor said. â€œThe art teacher wanted us to have a show.â€
That may have been Taylorâ€™s first show, but it was far from her last.
Every summer for five or six years Taylor participated in an arts and crafts show in Blowing Rock and says her pieces sold every time.
She is particularly proud of a show she had at the Hickory Museum of Art three years ago.
â€œThat was my most impressive show,â€ said Taylor. â€œIt ran for four months.â€
Taylor had a guest book at the show so she could see how many people came. She was amazed to see the names of individuals from places all over the country, including California, Texas, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There were even people from England and Japan who came to view Taylorâ€™s work.
There is an entry in the Catawba County Heritage Book that provides Taylorâ€™s biography and shows one of her paintings, something else she is quite proud of.
Despite selling so much of her work, Taylor says she still considers painting a hobby that just happens to make her some money occasionally.
As far as plans to retire from the hobby that has given her so much joy over the years, Taylor doesnâ€™t have any.
â€œNot as long as I can hold a paintbrush,â€ she said.
Interested in learning more about Arie Taylorâ€™s work or viewing her paintings? You may visit her website at www.angelfire.com/ab/jagstudio/index.html or make an appointment to view her work in person by calling her at (704) 462-1907.
by Allyson Levine