Kate Taylor’s Art: Relationships

Relationships between human creatures are one of the most complex puzzles on earth. Not even those attracted to each other can explain exactly what pulled them in to each other’s orbit. Many times it was physical attraction, that powerful moment that strips away everything but sensation, emotion, and desire.

But when it tried to translate itself into love it rarely succeeded, because it tried to capture a moment that no longer existed. Much of my art focuses on that intense attraction between people because it’s fun to paint and I have a lifetime of material and memories to draw from.

Love is more complex. Often people think the physical attraction and mental attraction have to be equal, and so they set themselves up for disappointment. For me the mind has always been the spark that lit the fire. Without that mental connection, the physical one was practically meaningless and interchangeable. But the ones who touched my mind as skillfully as they touched my body are the memories who still remain. It is to them I dedicate these paintings.

Relationships have always fascinated me. On the surface they make no sense, but when you strip away the layers you see the pulls and attractions that define them. For me I have always fallen in love with the mind first. I have lusted after intelligence the way others lust after physical appearances. This painting is in watercolor to depict the fluidity and power of mental connections. I used ink to show the small points, the paths touched together, the moments of mutual inspiration that expand the connection between the limits of physical parameters. The two figures in this painting are stylized depictions of the perfect conversation away from the world. They hide in a surreal forest of privacy. I used the colors of passion and lust, hues of pink and purple with black ink to give the emotions shape and form.

Watercolor and ink on paper, intelligence, sex, passion, relationships, bonding, purple, pink, mental connections, black, patterns, conversations
“Meeting Of the Minds” 11×14 watercolor and ink

Relationships have always fascinated me. On the surface they make no sense, but when you strip away the layers you see the pulls and attractions that define them. For me I have always fallen in love with the mind first. I have lusted after intelligence the way others lust after physical appearances. This painting is in watercolor to depict the fluidity and power of mental connections. I used ink to show the small points, the paths touched together, the moments of mutual inspiration that expand the connection between the limits of physical parameters. The two figures in this painting are stylized depictions of the perfect conversation away from the world. They hide in a surreal forest of privacy. I used the colors of passion and lust, hues of pink and purple with black ink to give the emotions shape and form.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

Watercolor and ink on paper, intelligence, sex, passion, relationships, bonding, purple, pink, mental connections, black, patterns, conversations
Black, red, yellow, white, with a touch of metallic green symbolize the stages of love and lust. The reds and yellows are the spark, the flame, and the burning fire. Black is for the void you fall into where nothing exists but the emotions of love, the fiery explosion of passionate feelings. White symbolizes that pure moment between love and lust where both are equal and time stops. The green is for the pastures that are always over the next turn in the hill because we are equally lustful and loving and constantly in search of the dream that is both. I made the background black because I wanted to show how nothing exists except the emotions when the outside world no longer has any hold over you.


acrylic on stretched canvas, red, black, yellow, white, physical attraction, love, lust, abstract impressionism, abstract, dramatic, relationships
DANCE OF LOVE AND LUST
acrylic on stretched canvas
9×12

Black, red, yellow, white, with a touch of metallic green symbolize the stages of love and lust. The reds and yellows are the spark, the flame, and the burning fire. Black is for the void you fall into where nothing exists but the emotions of love, the fiery explosion of passionate feelings. White symbolizes that pure moment between love and lust where both are equal and time stops. The green is for the pastures that are always over the next turn in the hill because we are equally lustful and loving and constantly in search of the dream that is both. I made the background black because I wanted to show how nothing exists except the emotions when the outside world no longer has any hold over you.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art



acrylic on stretched canvas, red, black, yellow, white, physical attraction, love, lust, abstract impressionism, abstract, dramatic, relationships
LOVE MEETS LUST #1
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
LOVE MEETS LUST #1
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.

To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #2
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel

This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #2
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel

This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art

acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #3
5x7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #3
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art


acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.
acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion
LOVE MEETS LUST #4
5×7
acrylic on canvas panel


This is one of a series of small paintings with a similar palette exploring the emotions of love meeting lust. The black background provides a dramatic stage for the yellow, red, white, and cream colors. I wanted to show the soft approach, the cream in the coffee that is most introductions. And then the fiery white hot passionate embrace that explodes with red, yellow and orange flames of energy before it eases its way into the softer hues of love drawn from the same palette.



To purchase this painting or for prints on paper or canvas, visit my gallery at
Kate Taylor’s Art


acrylic on canvas panel, red, yellow, orange, white, cream, black, swirls, lust, love, sex, passion

Kate Taylor’s Art

HOPE

Many of my monochrome paintings use only black, white, and gray to convey the depths of emotional despair. They are stark and meant to make people feel what I and others feel during those times. I also like to paint windows because they divide the inside from the outside. But when I thought I was done with this one I had this urge to add a bit of hope to the starkness, so I painted in a jar of flowers on the ledge to let some light in through the cracks.
9x12x3/4 acrylic on stretched canvas

Many of my monochrome paintings use only black, white, and gray to convey the depths of emotional despair. They are stark and meant to make people feel what I and others feel during those times. I also like to paint windows because they divide the inside from the outside. But when I thought I was done with this one I had this urge to add a bit of hope to the starkness, so I painted in a jar of flowers on the ledge to let some light in through the cracks.

If you want to purchase HOPE as a print, printed canvas, or the original painting, visit Kate Taylor’s Art

acrylic on stretched canvas, monochrome, white, black, gray, window, vase of flowers, hope, abstract impressionism, abstract, depression, emotive art

Stretching The Boundaries

My art, like my books, tended towards the political. I focused on the external world and topics that affected us as human beings, issues like global warming, climate change, pro-choice, separation of church and state. I tended to create both my words and my art realistically, with little emotion or personal interference.

I felt this gave it the rawness I wanted to inspire a reaction in the readers and the viewers, because if it didn’t inspire a reaction then nothing would change. We would rot away in our complacency happily unaware of civilization collapsing around us under the weight of greed, corruption, and religious fanaticism.

While I was working on the third book in the series, When The Last Ocean Dies, a novel that explored the changes and growth that took place in war, in traumatic situations, and as a result of visionary experiences, I began to explore the concept of patterns both within us and in the external world. I started to understand what I always assumed was habitual behavior was actually a falling into something that was already there.

The many wars, the plagues, the times of great creativity and the times of intellectual exploration were more than behaviors of specific individuals. They were part of waves that followed timelines. These periods of time ebbed and flowed, changed shape, died back and then grew once more.

I saw if I charted events on a timeline, patterns began to emerge. When I applied that same timeline to humans and spiritual growth, yet another pattern emerged, often alongside an existing one. The patterns grew from each other and into the next pattern.

The separations weren’t as clear as the continuity that gave form to the new ones. But I began to see shapes and forms in a different light. They were more than lines and squares and rectangles. They were pieces of a larger whole that connected.

After a conversation with an abstract painter, I decided to explore those patterns in my art. It was very different than anything I’ve done. It was a new way of looking at the familiar and finding the shapes, the designs, the patterns of color and form that I saw. I created the idea of something instead of the actual thing. I created the shape of something to give it form. The more I did this, the more the patterns began to emerge.

This is an exploration that is in the beginning stages for me. It’s part of my promise to stretch my boundaries in the coming year, to examine different approaches to the familiar. I suspect this will be a continuing exploration in both my writing and in my art.

I know there are many new ways of looking at things to gather from such explorations, and in time they will make themselves known just as the patterns made themselves known. Some examples of my new way of looking at the world are now up in an online gallery at Fine Art America. You can view it here.

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Growing Up In Vegas

I am constantly surprised by how many acquaintances, and even some friends, don’t know I grew up in Las Vegas. I spent twenty years of my life there, a very significant number of years during one of the formative periods of my life. I arrived there when I was eight and left when I was twenty-eight. And yet, I’ve been gone for so many years, it’s understandable many don’t know that part of my past.

I learned things in Las Vegas that you can only learn by living there for an extended period of time, things that never made the tourist ads. For example, it was a very godly town. There’s several religions that exerted their influence on local school boards, political decisions, and inflicted their version of morality on everyone else. I doubt that’s changed. Extremism doesn’t give up fucking people for money, it just finds a new bed partner.

Religion in Las Vegas taught me what hypocrisy looked and smelled like. It looked a whole lot like a preacher who bellowed from the pulpit about sin and the evils of drink, whoring, and gambling. But if you looked closely you saw the outrage ended at the church doors. Those same preachers flung open the welcome sign when there was money involved.

And there was no difference in Las Vegas between preachers and politicians, because it wasn’t the unsavory sinners who funded them or the casinos. It was those fine upstanding moral citizens and their banks who invested in the debauchery because it honored the only god they truly worshipped: the holy dollar.

And there was no one holier than the pulpit pounder who availed himself of an escort “service” on Saturday night and then stood in line to be forgiven on Sunday morning. And chances were excellent at least a couple of those escort earnings graced the collection plate when it was passed around.

The other thing I learned growing up in Vegas is that sex was a commodity like anything else. It’s a state of legal brothels. Like many who live or have lived there, I grew up with women who were sex workers. It was not a glamorous job. But neither was working at Wally’s world for shit wages and exploitative conditions. Or in any of the casinos if you served drinks, danced, entertained or anything that required you to wear skimpy pieces of fabric in your “job.” It was shitty work like any other shitty work. Just because it was sex didn’t make it better or worse than gutting chickens or shoving packages along an assembly line. It was a job. No more no less. And the moralists were usually the ones profiting from it. You can bet on it.

The other lesson I learned growing up in Las Vegas was personal. Gambling is a serious addiction. My father gambled. He sucked at it. That guaranteed we were often evicted, lived in cheap motels, in the car, or on our way somewhere the debt collectors wouldn’t find us.

We were often without enough to eat, or on the rare occasions we had a roof over our heads, we would come home from school to find everything gone, down to the pots and pans because they were sold to get gambling money. I learned the lessons of non-attachment early in life.

But the benefit to growing up in Las Vegas was there were then and probably still are a lot of under the table jobs, non-union, no taxes paid or declared, no age requirement. During the worst of my father’s gambling sprees, I was always able to find some kind of job in some crappy way off the strip restaurant by lying about my age. Tips brought immediate food. I was 14 when I went to work at the first one. The first lesson I learned was to unbutton the top buttons on my uniform so I’d get better tips. I didn’t care. The money went to that week’s crappy motel.

But the best thing about growing up in Las Vegas were the entertainers. There were lots of professional dancers, musicians, writers, and all kinds of artists. Like anywhere else, the bigotry and intolerance was nearly non-existent in such communities, and I got an early idea of what the world could be.

And while there will always be racist assholes in the woodwork, there was more diversity per block in Las Vegas than in most places. People came from all over to visit, to work, to perform, to teach. No matter where you worked, you worked with a diversity of people from other cultures.

It was just part of Vegas. I grew to expect it and that was the hardest part of not living there anymore. Everywhere I went seemed so bland and overly white. I was and I still am homesick for that diversity all these years later. It brought a life to the place that I miss. I don’t miss anything else about it. Like most of my friends then, we realized we belonged elsewhere and we went there.

The thing I missed least of all about Vegas was the religion. There was only one god, one religion, and that was the worship of the almighty dollar. You grew up seeing that everything and everyone was for sale. You could buy loyalty cheaper than you could earn it. If you threw a few dollars around, everyone wanted to be your friend.

It’s one of the reasons I am the way I am. I live minimally. I don’t give a crap how much money you have or don’t have. It just doesn’t impress me or buy me or whatever works for other people. I grew up watching the game and have no interest in being part of it. I think that was a good thing I brought with me when I left.

My new novel When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Stretching Boundaries

I read once that productivity for creatives increases in their 60’s and 70’s. Of course it does. You always get that extra energetic push when the clock is running out. But that’s only a small part of the story. By the time you reach that age you’ve built up a lot of material, and not only that, but a healthy dose of perspective that allows you to move from one project to the next without getting stuck in any. It’s a lot like being a toddler let loose in a room full of toys and no adult supervision, but with the added bonus of a whole lot more information.

But the most important thing creatives have is the ability to adapt. Most painters I know also draw, work with clay, stone, wood. Some write poetry. Others make music. It’s the same with many musicians. They can move from instrument to instrument, not necessarily with perfection, but that’s not the point. What most creatives excel at is the ability to adapt. Run out of one thing? Something else will work. Tired of working on this. There’s always that.

The mistake a lot of social engineers make is perpetuating the myth that only the strong survive. It’s those who are able to adapt who will survive. It’s those who can entertain more than one idea at a time. It’s those who look at a blank canvas, sheet of paper, computer screen and they see something that wasn’t put in their head by someone else.

I’ve spent most of my life around creatives, and in spite of the despair, the depression, the poverty and constant threat of rejection that causes many to turn to drugs and alcohol, they still remain, for the most part remarkably resilient. I am convinced it’s all that creative energy sparking everything to keep firing. Yes, the abuse will eventually take its toll, but it seems to take its time if there’s a multitude of projects to complete and the ability to adapt to the pull of each one.

Those of us who survived did so because we learned to adapt. It’s always been that way, hasn’t it? Those who adapt are the ones who survive.” from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

The Demons Will Have Their Say

Today as I plotted out a design, I found myself thinking about my fellow creatives. It often happens when I’m intently focused on something. There’s a gate that opens and in walk the demons to have their say. It’s not anything like letting my guard down. It’s more like leaving the door ajar knowing they’re out there.

Today the demons told me those I allowed to get the closest to me, those who managed the difficult, mined trek to my heart all shared one thing with me and with each other. We have more than a passing acquaintance with demons. It’s a more artistic way of saying we’re more than a little bit crazy.

But as one of my more possessed fellow creatives told me, we’re friends because our demons play well together. At first I thought he meant us, the me and him, together, outside himself. But then I understood he meant our individual demons, the ones inside us. We come with our own population.

We can’t tame them, he told me, because then we couldn’t create. The demons also must remain semi-feral or they become a detriment instead of a benefit. He was absolutely right. The moments when you’re deep into your art is very much a fugue state. It’s just you and the demons having their say.

There were times in my life when I was so focused on writing or drawing that I didn’t hear anything around me. People, music, phones, the everyday activity of life. None of it was there anymore. But what was inside me wanting to come out was startling and demanding in its clarity. It shouted above everything else. It took over.

I suspect such states are why creatives are often labeled bipolar, schizophrenic, or any other convenient excuses to explain why society forces creative people to split in two in order to live and to create.

I’m not saying these labels were inaccurate for some. I knew at least two, maybe three creatives whose need to create was driven by really dark forces inside themselves. It was either let them out on the canvas or get devoured by them a piece at a time until there was nothing left to sustain that resembled a whole person.

The thing about art is that it’s about as close to truth you can get. What you see on that canvas, on that wall, in that music, in those words, that’s a truth most people never experience. They don’t know what it’s like to come out of that fugue state and see yourself nakedly exposed. It’s bound to make anyone a little bit crazy.

"The demons backed down at the honesty that came from him, because it meant they could no longer torment him with the truth." from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor's Books and Art Ursine Logic

The Healing Power of Music and Love

Aquia was the character that fit my personal archetypes the most. He was the dedicated professional musician I’ve been around most of my life. I grew up with the endless practice, the constant rehearsals, the recitals, the performances. My adult friends followed the same path through music and the arts. They prepared, they practiced, they created, they performed, and then they started all over again.

It was often a lonely existence, and I used Aquia to show the diverse sides of that kind of solitude. Like all professional musicians, Aquia needed time alone to create, to practice, to perfect his craft. He only emerged from this solitary state to play with others who experienced the same solitude in the same way. When all the different instruments played together, it was the music that spoke a language they all understood. It connected them to each other as powerfully as the most passionate of lovers. But to get there, to arrive at that moment required many hours of loneliness, with little time left over for relationships with anyone else.

Our isolation doesn’t appeal to those who seek a more diverse settlement than one of mostly musicians. We often seem deliberately cloistered to others, but we need to be in order to perfect our craft. Not many understand it takes hours of practice a day, continual practice. We are not the best of companions.

from When The Last River Dies

As a special protege of the Mystics, Aquia was often separated from the other children. He was also set apart from the others by his intelligence and his ability to speak about ideas beyond the understanding of his classmates. The only place Aquia experienced a sense of community was with the other RiverHome musicians. He was most at home among them. He felt they understood him. They were his family and he was theirs. But unlike many of his fellow musicians, something else drove Aquia.

Aquia wanted to understand the inner world of himself. His training with the Mystics, and the hours he spent alone showed him pieces like separate parts of a composition, that he wanted to bring together. Music taught him to see the patterns, and he approached his desire to learn the truth of his parentage the same way. But his path was shaped by his heart; it defined his place in the pattern.

Aquia believed love was the solution to all the world’s ills. It resonated because it fit into the pattern shaped the same way a piece of music resonated with his senses. Music was not an intellectual process for him. It was an emotional one that developed his ability to give and receive unconditional love. This ability was as much a part of him as his musical talent.

Reynard struggled to describe the strange hope he felt in Aquia’s presence. The perfect world he described were the ramblings of a madman. Love was not a legitimate basis for laws. It was an emotional pit that chewed up humanity and then dared it to come back for more. It was the weak point, the threadbare piece of fabric civilization clung to in desperation, knowing it would eventually tear itself to shreds. And yet, Aquia gave it all such a patina of truth, that Reynard felt wrong for doubting him.”

from When The Last River Dies

Aquia’s friendship with Yewen helped him give shape to his sense of connection to a larger whole when he played music, because Yewen understood how everything was connected to itself. The notes that echoed through the canyon were carried on the breath of those who came before. The more Aquia understood his connection to everything in nature, the clearer his own path became.

Aquia smiled softly. “Perhaps you are right. But it is more than what I see. For me, music is also physical. I not only hear it, I also feel it. When I play, I feel the vibration against my skin, inside my veins, and in the rhythm of my heart. There is no inner or outer world in such moments. It is one feeling, one emotion, one continual sound that uses me to vibrate with the universe.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies


Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Companion Visions

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with readers were about the Spinywort. I often get asked if I was describing Peyote. It’s a difficult question because the visions it created in the characters and its effects were drawn from many sources, some experiential, others from descriptions both personal and academic. I would say I described the effects of a multilayered wort that drew from the door blown open by Peyote, the skies opened up through LSD, and the spirit healed with Psilocybin.

I grew up in the desert. I came of age during the Carlos Castaneda and the Peyote Cult years. It was also the time of Alan Watts and Timothy Leary. One of the convenient categories to compartmentalize the emerging interest in knowing thyself was the Human Potential Movement. I drew heavily from that time.

Another influence I used to build my characters and describe their visions came from Carl Jung, especially his book Psychology and Alchemy. I drew on his perceptions of spirituality, the human psyche and religion, but especially mysticism. I wanted to include many versions of the same truths.

They believe their purpose is to pry open the cracks of awareness. They don’t proselytize or seek to convert. They merely offer access to the SpinyWort flower and provide help through the process of ingesting it. But they believe you own your vision, and so they resist any explanation or reading of symbols. They feed you, shelter you, and send you home when it’s time.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Another influence that led to the writing of this book came from a fascinating conversation I had with probably one of the purest scientists I’ve ever met. He always claimed, in spite of his scientific purity, that he was a spiritual person. When I asked him how he reconciled those two sides he responded there was nothing to reconcile because it was all memory. Spirituality was knowledge that lived inside him and all he needed to do was to go within when needed.

Their ancestors, the ancient Magusans, saw visions that convinced them a vast inner world existed inside us, and we carried around many lifetimes of knowledge we didn’t know we possessed. They suspected, based on their studies, that the secret of human consciousness lies buried somewhere in all that knowledge.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

In the end it doesn’t matter how you get there; hallucinogenic drugs, plants, mushrooms, meditation, chocolate, what matters is that before you can love another, before you can love the planet and its people, you must first learn to love yourself. That means you have to do what has been said many ways over the centuries, you must learn to Know Thyself.

There are two sides to the upright beast. One walks with his skin inside. The other walks with his skin outside. But the flower of truth marks the path, and the flower of the SpinyWort shapes the truth.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Books and Art by Kate Taylor Ursine Logic

The River Daughter

For many years those who saw Arman Peace’s dramatic depictions of nature as a sensuous woman, wondered about the model in his paintings. When Aquia came through the tunnels, they learned she was his aunt, Coventina, the spiritual leader of Anahita, and the lover of Arman Peace.

The villages of River Valley are ruled by rotating volunteer councils, but Anahita is the only one headed by a spiritual leader. Her name is Coventina. She is descended from the first River Daughter, and she is revered for her wisdom. Few remember a time without her, but she has only ruled since the death of her husband several decades ago.” A soft smile touched Aquia’s lips, as though a secret hid behind them in wait. “The whispers say her touch can heal the most wounded soul. And they also say that same touch can burn through the skin and destroy the unwary fool.

from When The Last River Dies

Coventina visits one of Arman Peace’s paintings of her. It was painted to commemorate the day they conceived Dante. But she continues to seed the trail of half-truths about her love for Arman Peace, one which is the yearly festival devoted to the celebration of love. The residents of River Valley believe it kept alive the memory of the man she loved with all the passion and heartbreak of good myth. Coventina has her reasons for allowing them to continue to do so.

As you get older, my young novice, you will understand how little separation exists between those you loved and the time that passed. It becomes all one thread that weaves our hearts to one another. You can cut it. You can burn it. You can bury it. But there is no way to destroy every single thread, and all it takes is one to hold the memory inside you forever. Just one solitary thread.”

from When The Last River Dies

In the third and final book Coventina, during her final days, reveals her reasons for keeping the truth hidden. She hands the secret to her grandchild, Calistina, the new River Daughter, to hold as she held it for all those years.

Coventina’s gaze drifted to the tall peaks visible through the small window cut into the stone wall of her cottage. “Human follies are perpetual. Societies grow and fall, and then they grow again only to fall again. Right now, we are climbing back up, digging our knuckles into the dirt. This is the time to decide the future, to make the decisions necessary to move forward.” She turned her focus back to Calistina. “Your generation will make those decisions, not mine. And you will have to continually defeat those who resist change, those who won’t cede power until the fires consume them. You will have to lead from strength and inspire from hope.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Arts Ursine Logic

The Philosopher Artist

The character of Arman Peace never appeared in any of the three novels, but he was a presence in all of them. Everything we know about him came from other people’s memories. That’s how we learned he was the one who shaped Yewen and Lilyani. That’s how we learned he was the one who changed the life of Anahita’s spiritual leader, and whose blood will run through its veins forever.

Arman Peace’s dramatic and tragic works of art that depicted nature’s destruction at the hands of humanity won him fame, but it was his philosophy that drew students to his classroom. They valued his classes not only for the art training, but for the life changing insights they gained from listening to him speak. He taught them to understand they were not separate from nature, that everything was connected to itself.

He told me healing only came after we learned to make what we remembered and how we remembered inseparable. Only then would our memories remain pure and untouched by forces outside ourselves.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies

But unlike the other students, Yewen did not choose Arman Peace as a teacher. He was not an artist, nor did he have much interest in art. Arman Peace sought him out as his student, not to learn about art, but to learn about the inner world of the artist, to understand how creativity grew in some but not in others. He wanted him to understand the artist was inseparable from the art.

Arman Peace knew this was a way in to the understanding already rooted inside Yewen. He saw in Yewen a pure connection to nature, a depth of understanding that he was connected to every other living thing.

Part of it came from his training as a monk from the Monastery of the Trees where he learned without the forests, the planet could not survive. But Arman Peace believed Yewen was destined for more than an objective receptacle of facts about the need for forests. He saw him as the powerful protector the forests needed to preserve them for the future. Arman Peace knew from their first meeting that was Yewen’s true path, because an understanding of the connection was already in place.

If the forest burned that was fine because we lived in the city. If there were no more fish in the lake, that was fine because we preferred meat. We became insular and insulated, immovable forces caught in the amber of our own ignorance.

from When The Last Ocean Dies

As Yewen began his search for Arman Peace, the man, he started to understand how clearly his path was seeded by the mystical artist. Arman Peace knew he couldn’t teach him how to speak to his inner world enough to create art that came from inside him. That was a path Yewen needed to walk on his own to gain the insight needed to bring forth what lived inside him.

But what Arman Peace taught him and the other students was the important lesson they came to learn. The ills of the world were caused when humanity split itself off from nature, when humanity began to treat nature as a separate part of themselves, as a commodity, as a force determined to wage war against them. He made them understand only when they reclaimed that connection would the planet finally begin to heal. He knew in Yewen they finally found their needed voice.

Maybe future generations will look at the paintings and demand a world where the air is clean enough to bring back the birds, the butterflies, the flowers, and even the stars. They existed once, and somewhere they still exist. It is up to humanity to find the crack in the worlds so memory and the present can occupy the same place once more.”

from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Art and Books Ursine Logic