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Ingredients for Success


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Laurene Powell Jobs wrote, “Persistence, creativity, and extraordinary discipline are the ingredients of a successful life journey.” Local artist Colleen Taylor has taken these and added a heaping helping of flexibility to her personal “food for life.” Colleen grew up in Southern California. Her artistic path began with dancing at the age of 2, an interest she still enjoys, followed by establishing a life-long love of cooking, with her grandmother, at the age of 7; this formed the foundation for a later career in catering. Colleen then went on to enter the world of writing before arriving in Carefree, Arizona. She and husband Tom established their working art studio/gallery, on their home property, with plenty of space for her painting and husband Tom’s photography.

Colleen and Tom’s first move to the Scottsdale area was actually in 1992 with his job. Establishing a career for Colleen would prove to be difficult with the amount of moving they needed to do with Tom’s occupation. So, true to her positive nature and persistence, Colleen “re-imaged” herself each step of the way, using the foundation of her childhood experiences to create each new endeavor. While living in Los Angeles, Colleen opened Crossland Catering and was fortunate to be the exclusive caterer for many of the women’s clubs and churches in the area. Her ability to visualize guided her into designing and catering weddings, birthdays, business meetings, and grand openings. Several subsequent moves forward, Colleen became the owner and operator of a clothing design shop where, yet again, her creative talents took hold in a very three-dimensional way in the world of fashion.

Colleen and Tom thought they had made their final move back to Arizona in 2009. They settled in Carefree, where she met her next creative challenge. At the time, Colleen became her mother’s caregiver and picked up painting in the process. She soon discovered the peace derived from the process of painting. It wasn’t long before it became much more than just another creative outlet. This new expression provided Colleen a unique and special balance in her life, as well as introducing a new joy to her mother and her many friends, as her works came to life. Colleen sought out instructional help from area artists in an effort to expand her techniques, as well as knowledge of subject matter. She was on the move once again, but this time, through oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and pen and ink. The images appearing on her canvases were a variety of floral, wildlife, abstracts, whimsical subjects, and landscapes. 

Colleen has been referred to as a “colorist.” She loves to mix bright, vibrant colors that jump off the surface to hold you in a giant embrace.  In 2012, the “embrace” of her watercolor and oils grabbed the attention of the Arizona Art Alliance and the Sonoran Arts League. She received jury status from both organizations. As Colleen will share with you, “I never know where my muse will take me from day to day. That’s the excitement that fuels my passion in the creations yet to be.”

Colleen has exhibited her works at Taste of Cave Creek, Arizona Art Alliance, the Desert Foothills Library, and the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour & Sales in 2013 and 2014. Shortly after that last tour, and in her mother’s memory, she and Tom relocated to San Diego, where the three of them had spent 10 fun filled years in the ‘80s. Colleen and Tom founded the Alpine Art League, which boasts 30+ members. During that time, Colleen continued to show and sell her artwork at the Alpine Library, the Borrego Art Institute, the Alpine Community Center and the gallery/studio she shared with her husband. Alas, the Sonoran Desert was calling once again. As a result, earlier this year Colleen and Tom returned to their home in Carefree (their 13th and final move). They are opening their studio once again for the 21st Annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour, the last two weekends of November 2017. Colleen invites you to discover what she has been up to with her new medium explorations.

Meanwhile, Colleen will be showing her work – Vibrant Feathered Gathering, a pen and ink drawing – at the Herberger Museum’s Exhibit entitled, “Nature Nurtures Us” from now through Nov. 9. To see more of Colleen Taylor’s work, visit her website at, e-mail her at or contact her by phone at 480-912-3366.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at