Even though Taylor Hayes, a mixed-media artist, didn't Eset out to be an artist, having art in her life has become almost as necessary as eating and sleeping.

"From a very young age, I spent hours doodling at the kitchen table," Hayes says on her website. "Art has always been a part of my life in one way or another. I never decided to be an artist, instead I like to say that art found me."

Hayes, 23, a native of Roanoke, Va., moved to Winston-Salem to pursue a degree at Salem College, where she double-majored in arts management and not-for-profit management, with a minor in studio art. Since graduating in 2013, she has worked at Sawtooth School for Visual Art, where she oversees the school's website and digital marketing and coordinates programming for the digital art lab. She works part time at Artists in Cellophane: Art-o-mat, a local business that repurposes old cigarette machines so they can sell small pieces of art.

"Although there's not excess time for my art, I attribute my wealth of creative energy to the environments that I work in,"

Hayes said in an email. "My career and my art feed off of each other, especially since I work in creative organizations and primarily with other artists."

She said that her art process includes layering multiple mediums on a two-dimensional space, and she works with acrylic, collage, printmaking and other materials.

Her artwork is available in the gift shop at Sawtooth. She sells screen-printed merchandise and "other quirky, handmade items" at Design Archives on Fourth Street.

For more information, go towww.taylorhayesart.com or email taylorhayesart@gmail.com.

Q: Describe your art.

Answer:Art is very process-driven for me — it's not always about the finished product, but more about what happens while I'm creating the work. When ever I am starting a piece, I have a concept in mind, but very little strategy. This is because when I paint or draw onto the surface, I find my self responding to each new mark and making decisions about what's next based on my previous brush strokes. Being loose works for me because I know that at any point if I'm not happy, I can paint right over my mistakes and take a new direction.

Q: What media do you prefer?

Answer:I work in acrylic, watercolor, screen printing, collage, as well as pen/ink, but very rarely will you find me using just one medium at a time. A big part of my process is layering multiple media on a two-dimensional space.

Q: How do you find your subject matter?

Answer:I like to think that my subject matter finds me. I draw from my own life experiences, both new and old. There are weeks when I can't think of anything to paint, then suddenly I'll feel the urge to paint shadows on the wall for no apparent reason. I usually collect ideas, thoughts and doodles in a sketchbook which helps me to see patterns and concepts that I'd like to mold into a piece of art.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer:I am at a point where I feel like my work is developing a style that can be recognized, which is a very exciting place for a young artist to be. My work tends to have a nostalgic tone to it, giving the hint of a story or a connection between me and the viewer. My previous body of work was all about memories and how we keep some close to our hearts while others seem to fade away. My latest series focuses on shadows in nature as a metaphor for the shadows we find within ourselves and our past.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer:Along my path I've met some wonderful people, artists and mentors who all have given me nuggets to hold on to as I continue to create new work. I like to think of myself as a sponge that needs to soak up the wisdom of those around me.

Q: What does your art do for you?

Answer:Art is this process that I can't imagine my life without, probably because it has always been a part of my life in one way or another. It's become almost a basic need just as I need to eat and sleep every day. I need to be creative even in a small way. At the surface, art is just a fun and challenging way to spend my time, but deeper than that I know it is also a therapeutic outlet for my thoughts and stress.

Q: What do you hope your art does for the observer?

Answer:I always try to find this subtle line between making something that looks pretty just for the sake of it, and making something that has meaning and focus. I hope to create art that is aesthetically pleasing but is also a bit of a puzzle for those observers who want to spend more time figuring out the work.

Q: Do you have any advice for other artists?

Answer:Sometimes the most important step in being an artist is learning to publicly admit to yourself and to strangers that you are an artist.

Kathy Norcross Watts writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to winterberrybooks@bellsouth.net.

If you go

What:"Shadow Stories," an exhibition of works by Taylor Hayes and Dennis Millsaps reflecting on the duality of light and shadow.

Where:Artworks Gallery, 564 N. Trade St.

When:Through Aug. 1. Gallery Hop Artist Reception 7-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; 1-4 p.m. Sunday

Cost:Free

Information:(336) 723-5890 or www.artworks-gallery.org.

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