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Linda A. Gill
Visual satisfaction
by Kathy Anderson

ortland's bridges have long been a source of inspiration for Linda Gill. Hanging on the walls of her home are several pieces of her early artwork, done when she was around seven or eight years old. They're mixed media – watercolors and crayons – of the Hawthorne, Broadway and St. Johns bridges. The Portland native plans to do another bridge series to see what style and interpretation differences, from past to present, will surface.

Do the twist
In November 2003, two weeks in London taking pictures of the city and visiting museums left Linda Gill newly inspired to paint – and with the realization of what it is she hopes to accomplish.

"NY Subway," acrylic

"I want to travel, see the world through my camera and let my experiences come through onto my canvas," she said.

"My goal is that you experience colors and images that let your imagination come alive, make you believe in magical moments and help you notice what is. I call it 'visual satisfaction with a twist.'"

Linda rarely sketches out her ideas, preferring to paint from her thoughts and memories. Occasionally, she will set up a still life in her studio or use one of her photographs as a reference.

"I find, however, that my most successful work comes from my freedom of expression, not trying too hard, getting out of my own way and allowing my subconscious artist to come through," she said.

More intensity
In her mixed-media pieces, Linda uses her photographs by creating archival prints that are sometimes altered via her computer. She incorporates textures on the canvas by using clear tar gel and coarse garnet gel, both acrylic-based media to which she can add color.

"I feel the reflections in the textures give the work more depth and enhance the photograph," she said.

"The Arrangement," acrylic

The past couple years Linda has been using palette knives to paint. They allow her to keep the details to a minimum while giving her the flexibility to mix colors directly on the canvas.

"Sometimes I feel like I am sculpting with the paint as I move it around the canvas," she said. "I tend to use a lot of paint the more the better! I rarely mix any thinners in my acrylic paint, because I want to keep the colors as vibrant and intense as possible. Currently, I'm painting more with acrylics, as I can build up the textures easier than with oils and the drying time is relatively short."

Linda usually has both an acrylic and an oil painting in the works at the same time. She uses water-based oils and enjoys the ability to re-do as needed, since the paint remains wet for several weeks.

"However, I was commissioned to do a portrait earlier this year and I always use oils for that type of realistic painting," she said.

By the book
Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Van Eyck, Monet, Warhol, Rothko and Pollock top the list of artists Linda admires.

"I took a lot of art history in college and am fascinated with studying the backgrounds of each artist," she said. "I have many books on my shelves regarding color theory and painting techniques as well as biographies of several artists. I enjoy learning and am always looking for new inspiration."

"Spiral," photograph

This spring Linda's art can be seen at Yvette's A Flower Gallery (Milwaukie, Ore.) and Illumination Tans at Club Sport (Tigard, Ore.).

In May she'll be showing paintings and photographs at Jax Bar & Grill on Southwest Second in Portland.

Linda does commissioned work and allows studio visits by appointment.

She has a complete portfolio and a Web site where most of her art can be seen.

Artistic genetics
Linda's father at best could draw stick figures for Pictionary, but his father was an accomplished oil painter in the 1930s-'70s.

"I remember watching my grandfather up in his attic studio in Southeast Portland when I was little," she said. "I also remember the strong smell of the paints and how he always had a canvas in progress.

"Purple Moon," mixed media

"Every year he would give my mother a painting at Christmas. Our walls were filled with his work and I now have some hanging on my walls."

Though Linda's mother has never been a professional artist, she has painted and brings art and design to all that she does, including helping Linda install her work for shows.

"I defer to her when it comes to arranging the art on the walls," Linda said. "At a recent show at Amore Spa and Salon in the Pearl District, we installed 47 paintings and photographs. Her expertise with interior design and arranging is a gift that I am ever grateful for!"

Linda's maternal grandfather was talented as well a part-time cartoonist who drew political cartoons for several publications, including Portland's News Telegram. When he retired to the Oregon coast at Newport, he created the Zig-Zag-Zoo.

"This was technically his garden, a couple of blocks wide, surrounding his house where he built walkways and a fence from logs, driftwood and rocks he found at the beach," she said. "He painted it and made carvings and signs. Visitors stopped and took pictures."

She got game
Though Linda has enjoyed creating art for as long as she can remember her earliest memories include crayons, finger paints and sidewalk chalk it wasn't until her junior year of high school that photography was added to her list of endeavors.

"Poppies," photograph

"When an illness kept me away from my first love, sports, I decided that if I couldn't play the game, I'd take pictures of it," she said. "So I hooked up with the yearbook staff and started learning how to take photographs."

A few photography classes later and Linda knew she'd found another outlet for her creative energy. She enjoyed working in the darkroom almost as much as taking the pictures themselves. She received her first 35mm camera for high school graduation and has been taking pictures, on and off, since.

That's the ticket
Heading to Oregon State University, Linda declared pre-med as her major and took no art classes the first year. Though she enjoyed chemistry and math, she wasn't convinced that medicine was her calling.

"My second year I took several photojournalism courses, moved more into the art aspect of photography and enrolled in drawing and basic design classes," she said. "I decided I would become a graphic designer and possibly make money doing something I truly enjoyed. Besides, it sounded cool!"

"Tulips," acrylic

Linda graduated in 1984 with a degree in art, with emphasis on graphic design and art history. She then bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles.

"I had some friends living there and thought, why not? A few weeks after I arrived, I got my first real job as a graphic designer/planner at a land planning firm," she said. "I learned much more about cartography, presentation graphics and how businesses work than I ever did in school."

After four years and a couple of earthquakes, Linda moved back to Portland. Not finding many large-scale land planning firms in town, she took a job with a company designing and printing scorecards and other materials for the golf industry.

"Since I grew up in a golfing family, this was a great fit golf and graphics," she said. "I started playing when I was 12 and played on my high school and college teams. Needless to say, I was excited to combine my expertise in both areas and get paid for doing it!"

In 1990, after only a couple years at this job, Linda and several coworkers decided to start their own business called ONE Iron Graphics. She's been president of the company ever since.

Time-lapse photography
Linda painted during most of the 1990s, but her duties at ONE Iron kept her busy. Then, after her camera was stolen, she rarely took photographs for nearly 10 years.

"Garden Walk," mixed media

"I truly missed my photography and had always done some sort of art throughout my life," she said.

"I found that with the coming of the millennium and the passing of my dad that same year, life reflections brought me closer to my art."

Linda bought a Nikon digital camera and began taking photographs again. She created a digital darkroom with her Mac computer and a high-end photo printer.

She was driven to create, became passionate about it and felt compelled to spend more time with her art and photography.

"I've always liked photographing nature, landscapes, cities and bridges the best, so that is still my focus," she said. "I've also incorporated macro-photography into my repertoire. I enjoy giving the viewer a different perspective, one that they might not see at first glance.

"I think nature has many aspects of art within it that we rarely see day to day. But it's something that I look for and examine. It's what I like to do with my photography: examine and extract the essence of beauty in things that don't always appear beautiful."

This magic moment
Linda wants to create art that makes people want to look at and be around. She wants to generate positive feelings.

"In the shadows," photograph

"Life is hard at times," she said. "My message is simple – form and color in the right setting can create an atmosphere where one wants to stay. My goal is to make the world just a little more pleasant to look at and be in. Hopefully I pass the magical moments I experience while painting all the way through to the viewer.

"I always encourage others to paint, draw or do whatever feeds their creative side – an important place for us to all go sometimes."

E-mail Linda at art@lagstudios.com and visit her Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@comcast.net, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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