Oregon artist Linda Bray isn't letting anything slow her down. We "met" through twitter, and when she emailed about participating in the Sunday Salon, she said, "I am currently 70 years and counting." A professional artist for more than ten years, Linda works in both watercolor and acrylic.
"I have started a whole new adventure with my art. This is the most exciting work I've done so far and it truly has a mind of it's own. I cannot wait to start painting each day," Linda says on the homepage of Linda Bray Fine Art, where you will see her painting, titled Second Banana, a Finalist Winner in Fine Art Studio Online's BoldBrush Painting Competition for September 2010.
Her journey is inspiring. I hope you enjoy what she has to say.
"Banana Dance" shown left, copyright Linda Bray, used with permission.
What did you do before starting to work as an artist?
Hmm, I think I've always thought of myself as an artist, but I finally got on the ball and started to actually "work" at it in 1992. Before that I was busy raising a family and pretending to be something else. I tried my hand at clothing design, jewelry making, and photography. Maybe I was afraid to commit myself totally to art, for fear I might find out I didn't have what it takes. Art was always in the deepest place in me. It was the secret longing, if you know what I mean.
Who or what has encouraged you or helped you the most?
I've been lucky to have tremendous encouragement from my whole family. Even when I first started to get back into painting, my family cheered me on. I can look at some of my very first efforts and as lame as they were, my family loved them all and they still hang on some of their walls. Humility is a big part of being an artist.
How do you define your work?
Art is the only true way for me to open my heart. Before I start any painting, I have to "fall in love" with the subject. This is something I learned while working as a photographer. When I would have a model sit for me, I would keep looking through the lens at different angles and lighting until I had that moment when I just caught my breath. Then I knew I had found the absolute core of the beauty of that person. It's the same with any subject. I don't paint it until I fall in love.
Are you involved in any projects or creative ideas you would like to talk about?
Right now I am painting a series on Banana plants. I first fell in love with a photo of a Banana plant I found on a Google image search. I seldom fall in love with someone else's photo, but this one was so perfect. I wrote the photographer and asked for permission to use it as a reference for a painting. She wrote back and seemed thrilled to comply. When I finished it, I entered it in an on line competition and it won an award. I sent Jill the news that our little Banana plant had gained some notoriety and we both celebrated. I mention her contribution on my web site. I have since learned that Banana plants are being threatened by some kind of mold which could eventually wipe them out completely. (I hope not) So, suddenly, as I am painting them, I have this feeling that they are having their last celebration of life and that I am to show their spirit of joy in the work I'm doing. (Who knew Bananas have thoughts?)
I have been trying to locate some Banana plants where I live, (Eugene, Oregon) and finally had some luck last week. Two glorious gardens only minutes away and the owners so willing to let me wander about taking tons of photos. I only paint from photos for two very good reasons.......no, make that three. One, the weather here mostly sucks. Two, I need to be at home to take care of my husband. He had a stroke last November. And three, I just like to paint from photos. Life's too hard as it is, and painting is one of the hardest things of all, so I try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible. I like Helen Van Wyk's quote, "Nobody cares how much you suffer." (She meant as an artist.) So, I ignore those who say we must stand out in the rain in order to capture the truth of the moment. Besides, nobody cares how I painted it. They either like it or they don't.
Linda's story - as well as all the stories shared in these Sunday Salons - affirm that it is possible to live an artistic life on our own terms. I hope that you will share your story in a future Sunday Salon. You will be inspiring countless people who are starting on their own unique path.