Taylor O. Thomas

TOT Studio Shot 2.jpg

Taylor O. Thomas is an American painter utilizing gestural abstraction as a means of making manifest her inquiries into contemporary expression, formalism, and mind-body interconnection. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and private collections across the United States, Italy, Spain, and China. In 2012, Thomas graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College with a BA in Studio Art, and in May 2019 she will receive her MFA from the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she is based.

What was your latest book discovery? What are your favorite books of all time?

I must admit that I am not the most avid reader - committing myself to discovering new novels is the one resolution that I make every year and sadly fail to keep. But, I did recently stumble upon James Clear's book, Atomic Habits, and have absolutely loved digging into it. He makes change seem tangible, and it's one of those reads that I go back to my journal to unpack after each chapter.

Past favorites include the classic And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I read all of those when I was still a teen, and they have each stuck with me ever since.

Most visited blogs, websites?

Does gmail.com count? I typically have three different email accounts opened at once, so when it comes to frequency, there it is––work never really stops as an artist.

Blogs/online platforms that I love include Hyperallergic, Gorky's Granddaughter, The Brooklyn Rail and Ponder Effect (a beautiful space for quite literally "pondering" with others, created by my high school English teacher).

TOT The Longer the Stare, the Less You Find My Eyes.jpg
TOT Sheet Music.jpg

What apps do you use the most and why?

The apps that I utilize most are all related to sharing my artwork digitally:

Snapseed for quick iPhone edits, InShot for painting video clips, and Instagram for a myriad of reasons.

IG has become one of my major outlets for communicating with other artists, finding unexpected collectors, and giving people glimpses into my studio process. I would say that 90% of the people who contact me regarding my work mention that they first became aware of it through Instagram. It is a powerful app, and (fortunately and unfortunately) it is often the platform through which one's work is predominately seen and discovered, at least for those artists who are at emerging levels and may not have galleries or critics recognizing their works otherwise.

Whats currently on your playlist?

Delta by Mumford & Sons
When the Party's Over by Billie Eilish
One by Birdtalker
Double Heart by Penny & Sparrow (feat. Joseph)
Wake Up by Hush Kids
Funeral Singers by Sylvan Esso (feat. Collections of Colonies of Bees)
Say What You Will by Johnny Swim
In the Dark by Alice Kristiansen
Pray by Sam Smith
We're Going to Get This Figured Out by Tsuki

What records would you recommend to hear?

Up until recently, I hadn't listened to Mumford & Sons in years, but their recent album, Delta, is solid. I'm also a sucker for the harmonies involved in Birdtalker's recent album, One.

Fresh movie finds? What films do you think everybody should watch?

I'm much more of a Netflix series watcher than a movie goer. The film I most recently saw in theaters was Shallow, and the emotions that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper left me with will certainly hold me over until my next movie outing!

Which artists working today do you admire most?

Speaking from a painting perspective, I've really admired Charline von Heyl, Amy Sillman, and Dana Schutz in recent years.

Through interviews, I've gotten to learn about and appreciate Von Heyl's commitment to experimentation and relentless searching over years of work. She doesn't settle on what she knows how to master, and in turn her paintings are constantly evolving and presenting new iterations of her artistic language and vision.

Sillman, too, discusses the process of painting as one imbued with passion, discovery, awkwardness, and constant undoing and re-doing. I admire her not just for her painterly process and images, but for her writings, too. She is an unbelievable thinker, and her written contributions to the field are ones worth noting.

Finally, Dana Schutz is another female painter on my list, again for a couple reasons. Schutz's work is a fantastic mash up of material investigation and bold, abstract figuration. Her work has sparked controversy as she's tackled touchy topics and territories through painting, but I respect how Schutz has handled herself and her continued painting practice in the midst of the not-so-easy side of contemporary art and its reception.

My tools depend on my work environment for the day. In the studio, I’m using my body, brushes, brooms, old T-shirts, pastels, paint tubes, paint pints, scrap papers, and scissors.

What are some of your tv top tips right now?

Netflix's The OA and Atypical, Schitt's Creek, The Good Doctor, Good Girls, and (admittedly) any season of The Real Housewives that I can find on Hulu.

Who are you following?

Gahhly, there are way too many artists and galleries to list! A few favorites include friends, acquaintances, exhibition spaces, online art platforms, and personal infatuations:


TOT Studio Shot 5.jpg
TOT Body Inscription.jpg

What tools do you use in your work?

My tools depend on my work environment for the day. In the studio, I'm using my body, brushes, brooms, old T-shirts, pastels, paint tubes, paint pints, scrap papers, and scissors. When it comes to the less active side of my workday, my laptop, cell phone, and journal are the key components behind marketing, brainstorming, planning, etc. Nothing fancy, but each is a beloved necessity!

What magazines / newspapers do you read regularly?

The one magazine I subscribe to and read regularly is Artforum. I'll scroll through the NYTimes or Art in America online, but Artforum is like a little treat that I look forward to receiving each month. Years ago I decided to invest in the printed subscription, and now I have an absurd collection that I can't seem to toss.

What are your favorite gadgets?

The only "gadgets" I think I own are my cell phone and electronic toothbrush (if those can even be considered gadgets). I had an Apple watch at one point, but I did away with it after I experienced my wrist, cell, and laptop ringing at me in tandem with the same notification. Personally, less is more when it comes to my screens.


Taylor O. Thomas
Taylor’s Instagram


Images by
© Christian Cortes, Artist and Photographer
© Paul Cooley, Founder and Director of Deli Grocery New York