Search This Blog

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Linda Baker Interview

Last month I met this incredible artist in Shenzhen Biennial. Linda Baker, AWS, NWS as a professional watercolor artist, is intrigued by the gentle translucence of nature. She considers her work to be a contemporary approach to traditional subject matter. Striving to simplify the complicated while seeing the unique in the ordinary, she captures the essence of gentle scenes with harmonious strokes.

Linda Baker. Laundry.

What is your background as an artist? How did you come to watercolor?
As an art major in college, I studied art but as is typical for a woman, I married and my life took twists and turns. My family was very involved with racing engines and technology so my art took a back seat. In 1989, I made a decision to leave the family business and pursue my art full time and I have never looked back. I started exhibiting and competing which moved into teaching. I have since had my work published and have two instructional DVD’s through Creative Catalyst Productions.

Linda Baker. Pins and String. 85x65 cm

Your painting gives me an impression of linocut by its discipline, accuracy and analyticity. Do you have an attempt to take a full control over the medium when you paint?
In college, I was very influenced with the process of printmaking and enjoyed the inking and mystery of what would be the outcome. I have carried this process over to my watercolor paintings. My paintings are alternating layers of resist and watercolor which create a build-up of patina and history in the work that satisfies my need for process.

Linda Baker. Escape Route. 76x56 cm

What in your opinion features watercolor from other mediums?
Watercolor has a luminosity and a transparency not seen in other medias. I love the build-up of glazes with all of the previous layers glowing through from the background. I think there is a depth of character in watercolor not accomplished with other materials. Your works have a very thought-out, considered composition.

How do you work on your painting?
I am a huge believer of the planning process in a painting. I love the process of drawing, arranging, and composing my subjects. I tend to select very mundane everyday subjects and add some magic through composition. It is my practice to plan carefully with thought and then paint with pure abandon where the paint is flying in every direction. The combination of the planned and chaotic is a certain spontaneity of color combinations and a rich textural surface.

Linda Baker. Shadow Dance. 75x56 cm

You chose quite saturated colors. Does the subject appeal to you that way or it is a special artist`s method?
Actually, what I choose are many layers of transparent color that build up to a richness that appears saturated. Upon careful observation of my surface, you will see many soft colors mingling and shining through what a glance appears saturated. This buildup of luminosity is a bit of a trademark for my work.

Linda Baker. What Goes Around.

I have noticed that one of the strongest artist`s means you take is rhythm and tonal contrast. Do you try to find a certain system when you paint your subjects?
It is interesting that you ask this particular question as it resonates with my work and my style. As a frequent juror, I am drawn first to the contrast in a painting. It is a belief of mine that if you have a strong composition and good contrast, you really cannot paint a bad painting. Contrast is one of the easiest ways to strengthen an image. Now rhythm is a separate issue. I love using repetition with variation to paint multiples of a simple subject such as bicycles. I love the feel of movement holding a painting together. Rhythm gives a painting a sense of cadence and entertainment. It offers movement for our eye and heart throughout a piece of artwork.

Linda Baker. Life Cyicles. 56x76 cm

I love how you are using white highlights. It brings sun into your painting. Can you tell more about this method of yours?
All painting is about light. Sometimes the light source is the entire meaning and in other works, the absence of light is significant. I am drawn to a strong light source where the light is dancing across the subject in an abstract form that actually creates a separate under or overpainting. Beams of sunlight, shadows dancing, and reflective light playing off the surfaces is what most of my work is all about.

Linda Baker. Quiet Sophistication. 76x56 cm

How do you find subjects that inspire you?
It is my belief, that my subjects find me. I can go out with my sketch pad and a camera all day and not find anything inspiring and then round a corner and have the most humble, everyday scene stop me in my tracks. I am not much of a tourist as I most often find myself down the alleys and in the middle of everyday culture and loving it!

How long does it take to finish a painting?
I generally work on a number of paintings at once. Being a process painter and loving the layering of my work, I rarely paint from beginning to end. Having said this, I generally spend a solid week, sometimes two on a work of art.

Linda Baker. Show Me The Money. 76x56 cm

Do you always work on one painting at a time?
I don’t remember a time when I did not have several paintings in the works at the same time. I love the sponteneity of switching gears and not getting too consumed by any image. By bouncing around, I feel that I keep the work fresh.

What is the most comfortable size to work on?
I like all sizes of paintings are drift around accordingly. I love a double elephant which is 30” x 42” but am just as comfortable with a small 12” x 12” square!! I try to let the image regulate what size it wants to be.

Do you paint on a spot?
Yes, I used to do quite a bit of plein air work but when I got so involved with the layering, I transitioned to more of a studio artist. I still love to go out and paint among nature and see what shows up on my paper!

Linda Baker. Stoned In Shadow.

Do you consider yourself a studio artist?
Because of the layering process and the drying required between layers, I have become more of a studio artist all the time. I can be the most productive with my techniques at my finger tips.

Your paper choice? Paints? Brushes?
My main paper choice was traditionally 300# cold-press Arches but lately I find that more of my work is on a smoother surface. I have been using Kilaminjaro 300# by Cheap Joe’s along with his brushes. I like many brands of paint for different reasons. Cheap Joe’s American Journey is great for pouring while M. Graham has a nice intensity for finishing strokes.

Do you use any additional medium besides transparent watercolor paints? Masking? Opaque paint?
I basically use only pure transparent watercolor pigment and always have. I am not a fan of opaque colors and certainly not stainers. With the layering in my work, the more transparent the better.

Linda Baker. Classic Elegance. 76x56 cm

Is it important for an artist to belong to official art organizations?
I think the art organizations offer a comraderie to a very solitary profession. Most artists work alone as it is the only way to find their own voice and the organizations help us to connect and stay on top of new techniques. I also enjoy giving back to an art world that has given so much to me.

Do you follow the news about art life of the artist fellows?
Yes, whenever possible, I get the magazines and art books so I can be aware of who is making a difference in the current art world. I always see work that inspires me or challenges me, and mostly makes me think. Can your art impressions influence your painting style? Without a doubt my art impressions influence my painting style. I was recently in Shenzhen for the Shenzhen Biennial and seeing work from all over the world impacted me more than I can say. It is fascinating what other cultures are doing the same and what they are doing differently and it is always interesting to see how this will impact my brush on paper.

Linda Baker. Anticipation V. 76x56 cm

Your advice to young watercolor artists?
My advice to young artists is to paint, paint, paint! No matter the knowledge you acquire, or the vastness of your art knowledge, it still comes down to the artist and the paper. The more we paint, the more we realize how much we have to say as an artist.

Some artist`s statement:

My subjects often choose me in that I see something and respond deeply to a scene that everyone else would have walked by. For example, my clothes pin series. I was doing laundry and dropped my clothes pins on the floor. They were just grey and weathered and yet the way the sun streamed across them intrigued me. The adding of color was so I could distinguish one pin from the other and so the series came to life. The clothes pins, it turns out are an International icon and recognized in every language. They also turned out to have a significant message between woman's work and men's careers and speak to our differences.

Linda Baker. Woven Patterns.

'His Keys' is a tribute to my late husband. In our chaotic life of racing, my husband built racing engines for every kind of high performance and each item had a key. With his business interests, he had buildings, tool boxes, storage units, and vehicles of all kinds each having a key. So, after my husband passed from an unexpected accident, instead of keeping his things which were too large and expensive, I kept his keys. I felt this was more intimate as each key in my collection he had touched on a daily basis. So, the painting…..a lifetime of memories.

Linda Baker. His Keys.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing technique! I'm very fond of the strong colours in Escape Route in particular!