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Linda F. HarrisAt the age of ten, recognizing my interest my mother began teaching me to draw. I am sure it was an effort on her part to get me out of her art materials---by giving me a few of my own---and teaching me how to use them. By thirteen, still drawing, I was presented with a set of oils and brushes, which I dove into using immediately. My first painting, a horse surrounded by prairie fire, my mother purchased, so I of course realized I could do this for a living!

Through the teenage years I tagged along to art classes, workshops and shows, learning and selling whenever I could. At one point my parents pulled me aside, telling me I could no longer accept freelance artwork; I was taking on so much of it they were afraid it was interfering with homework.

I began college with an art intention, but immediately ran into problems. The college programs emphasized abstract, pop and conceptual art, and I was bent on developing my drawing skills, with an eye towards illustration, science or medical. I left the college art program after taking several courses, and instead majored in Recreation with an Art Administration emphasis, and continued my art education with private instruction by working artists----exactly the type of instruction I give in my own studio today.

Subsequent to graduation with my B.S., I went to work in the publishing industry, beginning at Addison Wesley (schoolbook division) as a technical illustrator and production head. I began my own freelance office part time, on the side, and when I finally felt ready, resigned Addison Wesley and began illustration and production full time from my own office. My assignments included science, medical, and children's texts.

In fine art, I continued my education with several notable artists, studying several years with Bob Gerbracht doing portrait and figure in pastel and oil, as well as Daniel Green, Thomas Leighton, Kitty Wallis, Ramon Kelly, and Albert Handell. With a lot of showing, I earned my signature status for both the Pastel Society of the West Coast and the Society of Western Artists.

Currently painting both on location and in the studio with my husband, Dennis, I also teach studio classes in portrait and figure and still life. Many of my students are college graduates with degrees in art, looking to learn some of the skills omitted by the college curriculum, as I found when I was a student. Some of my students are also people that, after doing their jobs for a living until retirement, are finally taking up the skill of painting as they always intended to do. And still, some are stay-at-home moms, working folks, or young people currently enrolled in college. I have been teaching about 20 years, and truly love to pass along what I have learned and my enthusiasm for seeing.

Portrait, figure and still life pieces are done in the studio, my location (landscape) painting, en plein aire pieces are for the most part done in my favorite spots for painting, Yosemite, Pacific Grove, and Point Lobos.

Notes on How I Work

My personal sense of atheistic leads me to create images that I find easy to look at; for the most part they are compositions that as I put it, “have room to breathe”.  Open, simple, yet presenting a variety of techniques in paint application and color use to keep the viewer’s eye engaged.

I purposefully keep my content to images that are beautiful, inspiring, or humorous.  I think there are plenty of ugly and disturbing things going on in life, and I want something hanging on the wall that has positive energy!
I am a traditionalist in that I always do my drawing from reference, I do not trace nor project images.  After years of illustrating, I have a strong preference to working from life, only on rare occasions do I work from photos, as I find they leave out too much information.  When I work I normally take notes on what I am doing, for my further education as well as a reference for future pieces.

After spending years with wonderful instruction I have spent the past several years doing what I have always done, which is to attend exhibits with my personal favorite painters work so that I may study their techniques and take notes.  I take that information and back to the studio and incorporate it into my own work, and I have learned a tremendous amount in this way.  For me to stand in front of a painting in a museum for an hour or more and study it is common.  My mentors in this process have been the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velazquez, Sargent, Sorolla, Zorn, Degas, Cassatt, Homer, Hill, and Thayer to name only a few.  It is amazing how much I can learn in this way, and when I cannot get to a major exhibit, I open one of the many books I collect for this purpose.  At times I may copy a painting to deepen my study--it's like having a private lesson with one of the greats!


© 2008 Linda F. Harris. All Rights Reserved