We had the good fortune of connecting with Linda King and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Linda, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking is an extremely important component of my art making process. In the 1980’s I was a figurative artist working in Chicago, exhibiting and selling with regularity. My figurative paintings reflected emotions and thoughts about relationship, choice, isolation, humanity, the unknown and unforeseen. Layers and layers of painterly brushstrokes and color were built up to create form and mood. I made numerous fairly large scale (5’x7’) paintings and sold most of them. Then there came a point when those ideas and portraying the figure didn’t work for me anymore. I had nothing else to say. For two years I tried to find my way, to find meaning in the process of art making and in the art object. I came very close to not making paintings or any art. And then I took a leap of faith and just started to draw, then paint trees in a very painterly, expressionistic and abstract style. I no longer felt confined by the figure or specific ideas. This let me just explore paint, color, space, time, and perception. I left my gallery, I left my teaching job at the University of Illinois, Chicago and I moved to Los Angeles. Since that difficult two-year period, my work process has developed into one of discovery and taking risks. I tend to work in series and explore different painting approaches and variations of concepts. I have found that if I haven’t learned something new then I am unfulfilled by the work and the work is discarded. I use chance and the painting process to create problems and then I try to work myself out of the problem and into a visual/conceptual resolution. My paintings are visually abstract but reference nature, contemporary culture and a sense of time and memory. The paintings are created with layers of poured paint, that are then edited down to an essential form or specific interaction. I combine very fluid movements of paint with hard-edged shapes and flat intense backgrounds, constantly shifting the viewer’s eye until shape becomes negative and space becomes shape. My interests lie with the juxtaposition of boundaries that subvert perception. The pours are multiple colors and different viscosities. The colors are derived from personal experience, what I see, what I react to. Sometimes they reference nature’s colors; algae and moss, a storm coming in, burnt ground, the leaves changing. Other times, the colors are chosen as a visual response to the urban environment, contemporary fashion, billboards and advertisements. Color is a very strong focus of my work. I try to approach color as a means of discovery. This means that sometimes the colors picked are subtle and quiet, and other times very bold and assertive. The pours are one component of creating the painting. The other major aspect is the editing of the pour. When the pour is finished, taken as far as it can go, when it feels complete, I then look to see what is essential for creating a specific mood or visual response. I use vintage ceramic and metal platters as stencils to edit the background and create different shapes. I place the platters down on the areas that I want to save, trace around them and then paint out everything else. The platters relate to plants, nature, and biomorphic forms. Recently, I have also included construction materials, every day household objects and the flow of the paint and drips to dictate the separation of forms and background. There seems to be an ebb and flow in my ideas. Starting in 1990 my work became completely abstract, using nature, art history and symbols as reference points. I was interested in juxtaposing the “idea” of romantic landscape with a more contemporary setting, exploring concepts of beauty, perception and cultural relationships. The more recent paintings are developed in the same way but seem to be about transition, transformation and a micro/macro cosmic world. I think that by taking the risk of leaving Chicago, moving to Los Angeles and changing my approach to painting has greatly enhanced and enriched my life. It has been sometimes difficult and sometimes very rewarding to start my career over with new work and new career opportunities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My MA and MFA are in Printmaking but my heart was set on Painting. My Illinois teaching positions were primarily in Printmaking and when I left Chicago, Long Beach City College gave me the freedom to teach Painting. Leaving Chicago and developing an art community and new career contacts was difficult. I received a great deal of support and introductions to artists, galleries, museum directors from my colleagues. The lessons I have learned is to just make art and be true to my heart. Everything else falls into place. I am in my studio 6 to 7 days a week. I have several different bodies of work going at one time. They are usually quite different from each other but tend to inform the other. For example, my main body of work are large scale paintings. While they are drying or I am thinking/looking at them I am also making small art books. I am continually searching and exploring. This is what keeps me evolving and interested in making art.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a big fan of the outdoors, so I would suggest the hiking trails of the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains. The Huntington Gardens, Descanso Gardens and the Arboretum are favorite places to visit any time of the year. Whale watching or sailing can be a very nice way to spend the day. I of course would suggest the many galleries and art museums, among them, LACMA, Craft Contemporary, MOCA, Broad, Norton Simon. A visit to Santee Alley, Grand Central, Bradbury Building and the DTLA Art Deco Tours are a must. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank all of the artists that I know that continue to make strong and challenging work regardless of the support or lack of from the art community. They are a great inspiration to me. I would also give a shout out to my Art teaching colleagues from the University of Illinois, Chicago and Long Beach City College who have continually supported and challenged me.
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