Alasdair Taylor was born in Ross-shire and trained as an artist at the Glasgow School of Art, subsequently living in Denmark and Glasgow. In 1967 he moved to Portencross, Ayrshire, where he lived reclusively with his wife Annelise and their daughters Anna and Jean. In March 2005 he suffered a stroke and had to leave his home. He died in 2007.
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In most of his oil paintings before the mid-1960s, the paint is thickly applied. After this time, he used oil more thinly. There are extremes of colour from bright to sombre.
His nude drawings and paintings of nudes are mostly of his wife. His collages used photographs and newspaper cuttings combined with brush strokes, influenced by Dadaism and early Cubism. He made abstract oil paintings with brush, palette knife, spray can and other techniques: some of these are intended to be hung in groups and named after the seasons.
He filled notebooks with ideas mingled with sketches in pen or watercolour and did ink drawings on the blank pages of art books he had been given.
The Scottish Arts Council has given a grant to Street Level Photoworks to catalogue and digitise Taylor's work.
Alasdair Gray and James Kelman
Taylor also featured in Portrait of a painter, "the story of an artist ... who persists in his painting though he remains unrecognized and unrewarded", in Gray's 1985 short story anthology Lean Tales, co-written with James Kelman and Agnes Owens.
He was also among those whose profile as visual artists Gray attempted to raise in his collaborative 5 Scottish Artists exhibition in 1986.
The Two Alasdairs was an exhibition which ran at the Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh Gallery from 22 November 2008 to 10 January 2009. It celebrated the art of Alasdair Gray and Alasdair Taylor, and their long friendship. The exhibition included a television interview with Taylor by BBC Scotland's W. Gordon Smith (in the arts TV series "Scope" in 1974).
- 5 Scottish Artists' Retrospective Show - McLellan Art Galleries, Glasgow, and Talbot Rice Art Centre, Edinburgh, 1986
- Alasdair Taylor, a Retrospective - Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, 2007
- The Two Alasdairs: Alasdair Gray & Alasdair Taylor - Mackintosh Gallery, Glasgow School of Art, November 2008 to January 2009
- The Loop, North Ayrshire's Cultural Magazine, #19, Summer 2007
- Artist suffers stroke, Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, February 23, 2006
- Alasdair Taylor, Painter: Travelling Exhibition 2007-2009, Alasdair Gray, weblog, July 6, 2006
- World Authors 1980-1985, Vineta Colby, H. W. Wilson, 1991, ISBN 0-8242-0797-1 Google Books
- The Arts of Alasdair Gray, Robert Crawford, Thom Nairn, Edinburgh University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-7486-0294-1 Questia
- Alasdair Gray's blog
- Review of The Two Alasdairs by Barry Didcock in the Sunday Herald, 30 Nov 2008
- Review of The Two Alasdairs by Duncan Macmillan in The Scotsman, 19 Dec 2008