Artist Statement

Growing up, I was seldom out of sight of mountains and canyons that were not yet smothered by houses, restaurants and roads.  They were always accessible, even to a child on foot, and there I focused on creating a herbarium of all the plants I could identify—weeds and all. That focus on plants and the natural world has remained a constant, and happily, most of my working life was spent as a research biologist in plant sciences on the beautiful UC Santa Cruz campus.  UCSC, a world class research university, is set in meadows and forests, with a treasury of nature reserves, greenhouses, and a major botanical garden.   I paint what I love, so most of my paintings are overdetermined to focus on the natural world and especially on botanical subjects. I’m interested in the lives of all the creatures who share the earth with us, including the stories and mythologies that surround them.

As a member of the fourth generation of my family to live near the Fort Hall Indian Reservation,  and as an employee of the State of Idaho as a member of an archaeology field crew, I could only become deeply aware of the immense political, cultural, spiritual, and material debt that the world owes to the indigenous people of the Americas—from the art we make to the foods we eat.  Most of my paintings that reference that debt were created during my twenty-year affiliation with Galeria Tonantzin in San Juan Bautista.

As a child, I loved to write and illustrate stories about the creatures inhabiting the forests, streams and gardens that were the focus of my life. My fantasy paintings are descendants of that childhood obsession, and they suggest stories, although some may remain untold.  The roots of Libra, the Cat Who Saved Silicon Valley, a YA science fiction novel I co-wrote and illustrated, go back to that long-ago time.

I believe the well-springs of all the arts and sciences arise from the same source.  Besides research publications, I’m co-author with my biologist husband Lincoln Taiz of Flora Unveiled, a book of cultural and scientific history (Oxford University Press, 2017).  We’ve also co-authored opera librettos.  Star Trek: The Trial of Spock, was composed by Ben Carson and workshopped under the direction of John Delancy  (Q in the Star Trek series).  The Nightingale, composed by Michael McGushin, is expected to premier in 2022.  Both librettos parallel the fantasy/science fiction themes that often appear in my paintings.

Currently, I’m at work on a painting series of birthday month flowers featuring both the traditional domestic flowers and the wild flowers I think should symbolize the months of the year. This series is destined to become part of a little book.

Although the subject matter of my paintings varies greatly, my painting style is consistently realistic and detailed.

More of my paintings can be seen on the website of the Santa Cruz Watercolor Society.  Paintings, prints, cards, and books are available.

Please contact me at leetaiz@cruzio.com

Mediums
Email
leetaiz@cruzio.com
Website
http://santacruzwatercolorsociety.com/lee-taiz