He changed majors, but held onto his passion for art, which might only be trumped by his passion for professional baseball.
“Baseball is what I idolized growing up,” says Kyle, who runs a box truck repair shop by day. “I was always looking at baseball cards and fascinated by the artwork. I thought about how they pick the perfect image that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye. As I got older, I thought, ‘What a great way to connect those worlds for me by doing artwork of professional baseball players.’ ”
Kyle started doing pencil drawings of players in the evening and posting them on social media in 2018. His drawings elicited a phone call that opened the locker room door at Busch Stadium. A family member of pitcher Michael Wacha reached out and asked Kyle if he’d be interested in doing a painting of the now-former Cardinal. He’d never created a painting of a player before, but couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
He carefully started the 3-by-4-foot acrylic painting of the Cardinal right-hander. “I was hesitant at first because it cost a little more, but I thought if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right,” he says. “It was nerve-racking. He’s a player in the public limelight, so I better get it right or the comments are going to be brutal.”
Kyle finished the painting and headed north on Interstate 55 to the 2019 Cardinals Winter Warm-Up. The pitcher knew something was up, but didn’t know exactly what Kyle had created. Michael reached out and asked Kyle to bring the painting up to his hotel room.
“He had no idea how big the painting was going to be of him,” Kyle says. “He was blown away and was so appreciative and amicable, just a super nice guy to be around.”
Michael asked Kyle if he would do a painting of teammate Jack Flaherty. Kyle happily obliged and through a combination of word-of-mouth exchanges in the clubhouse and social media postings, his workload became constant.
Kyle says people began to view him less as a fanboy trying to be around players, but as an artist. “That’s when I first started to get taken more seriously,” he says. “That’s when I started building more credibility.”
As his following has grown, Kyle has painted for some of baseball’s biggest stars including Jazz Chisholm, Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna and Madison Bumgarner. He teamed up with 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Champion Ryan O’Reilly for a painting that was auctioned off for the Blues’ charity.
Kyle’s artistic process begins by getting a visual of the room the painting will be hung in. From there, he searches for the perfect image to use as inspiration. “At that point, I take the image and break it down by shadows and highlights,” he says. “Then I start the process with acrylic ink. I’ve tried oil, but I didn’t like the look of it. In my head I model it after a stained-glass window in a church. I marvel at how the artists would take a 3D person and turn them into 2D glass that looks so beautiful.”
In between his day job and home life with his wife and children, Kyle is generally able to finish a painting in two or three weeks.
Kyle says athletes have become more image conscious, including having an interest in art. Being in the middle of the marriage of art and sports is something Kyle doesn’t take for granted.
“Anytime somebody finds out I’m going up to Busch Stadium this weekend to deliver a painting, it’s always something like, ‘Man, I can’t believe that’s what you get to do,’ ” he says. “I’m extremely lucky. I’m very, very blessed that I even have this opportunity. It’s not something I’ll forget.”
For more information on Kyle Taylor’s portraits, check out his Instagram page @kyletaylorportraits.