Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Feature: Linda Fisler

Hi Everyone,
"Ira's Boats" by Linda Fisler
  It's Friday!!!  I have a fabulous Friday Feature today.  I met Linda via Facebook and find her amazing.  She paints, writes, hosts art chats, works with Kevin Macpherson and has a television series in called Color Your World in Ohio, which can be viewed via the internet. I'm sure I've missed a few other of her many talents.  I find her to be an inspiration and am thrilled to feature her today.

To see more of her work visit her website, Facebook page and blog

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

This is an interesting question. My earliest memories is that I was a pretty imaginative child, very creative, but not necessary in the painting or drawing department.  I remember writing stories, telling stories to my friends and writing scripts.  I’ve done that all my life really and still doing it today.  When I was 18, just graduated from high school, my parents asked what I wanted to be, what college I wanted to attend and what major.  I said USC (anybody who knows me knows I am a big USC Trojan fan) and I wanted to be a film director or writer.  My parents laughed and said they were not going to send me to California for that.  In hindsight, they didn’t have the money for that.  Being the stubborn young lady I was, I decided that if I couldn’t go to USC for film, then I wouldn’t go to college.  I ended putting everything creative on hold except my writing when I got a job at Procter and Gamble.  Life was such drudgery.  I was like a robot!  The only time cherished was when I could write on my novel—escape by telling a story to no one but myself.   I had a number of miscarriages during late 20’s into 30’s and then the news that I couldn’t have children.  Recovering from a surgery, while lying on the couch, I told my husband there has to be more to life than just this robotic 9-5 job, that while it paid very well, provided nothing to my spiritual life/soul.   I told him then that I wanted to see if I had any talent like my cousins, who I remember watching draw and paint when I was a child.  I signed up to take painting lessons at the Middletown Arts Center under a very well known and loved instructor by the name of Larry Doud.   He turned the light on for me and I fell in love with oil painting.   That was back in 1995/96.  I lived for every Thursday night!  After another surgery for my herniated disc in my back, Procter and Gamble made it very easy for me to leave the company.  I had been promoted to management three years prior to leaving (they usually don’t promote people without a college degree so this was quite a feat!) and achieved the goals I had wanted after 26 years.  After a discussion with my husband, we agreed that I would resign from P&G in six months.  In May of 2006, I walked out the door to pursue a life of painting and writing. I am mentored by Kevin Macpherson, Joe Anna Arnett and George Gallo.  I do both (writing and painting) and I also producer/host an art chat show (Art Chat with Linda Fisler presented by Artist Network, previously known as AMO Art Chat). I just negotiated a deal with F+W Media to produce the show.  I also host a local TV show call “Color Your World”.   That TV show’s object is to foster art appreciation.  It has been a wonderful journey, all about learning through experience really.  P&G gave me fantastic business skills to enhance the creative skills. My mentors have taught me so much about art and living.  There have been valuable lessons learned throughout the years.  
"15 Standing Guard" by Linda Fisler

Where were you born?
I was born in a small suburban town outside Cincinnati, Ohio.  Reading (pronounced Redding) was a typical mid-western town.  I was a small town girl with big town dreams.  I moved to Middletown Ohio when my Tom and I married.  He worked in Dayton and I worked in Cincinnati.  It’s called Middletown for a reason.  This area is growing together with the two cities, much like Los Angeles and San Deigo are, for example.   

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Wow—so much of the world I haven’t seen, so this is hard to answer.  Right now I would say that I’d live here in Middletown for spring, summer and early fall.  We have lots of wonderful friends here and the cost of living is perfect for our lifestyle.  In the winter, if I had the money, I would travel and live in Queenstown, New Zealand.  I’d leave early enough to catch their giant azaleas in bloom in the sprint and their summer.  Return early enough here to catch the lilacs in bloom.  
"El Capitan" by Linda Fisler
What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
Here’s lies the problem—I’m not sure I found that yet!  I know part of a consistent body of work is that I choose a theme, but I’m really focusing on finding my own voice and style.   If you press me hard enough, I would have to say that I really enjoy painting my cats and I enjoy painting landscapes (mountains especially) and seascape/water/boats.   That is why I fell in love with Queenstown.  It has all of that in one place!   I have worked on a New Zealand series based on a trip I took to Queenstown (plein air painting trip with Kevin Macpherson) and have recently been painting Yosemite National Park.  Every day or at least every time the sun has been out, there has been wonderful light and shadow on my little kitties that I just sit and sketch or admire-which then has me wanting to pick up my knives and paint that.  Did I skirt that question well enough?  ;-)

Could you talk about your painting techniques?  
Yes!  I started out like everyone else, with brushes.  The whole time under Kevin’s and Joe Anna’s tutelage, I painted plein air and with brushes.  I personally think that I should not have started right away in Plein Air.  This is not meant to say that Kevin and Joe Anna were wrong—they were wonderfully supportive, encouraging and still are.  All three of my mentors are plein air painters and they have provided wonderful support and learning about studying nature to find the answers. It is just that plein air painting is hard enough without adding into it all the technical things you need to understand to create a really gorgeous plein air painting.  Like everyone else I struggled with that and still do to this day.   I made a conscious decision in my journey to step back from plein air painting and just practice and learn.  I wanted to slow everything down and study, learn the technique and ask myself how I wanted to paint.  That is what I have been doing over the last few years.  I found that, in a rather strange way, I have a block with my brushes.  I was really struggling with them to create what I wanted.  One day I picked up my set of odd shaped palette knives that I had bought five years earlier and never took out of the box. Doing this removed all the pressure and opened a new path of learning.  When I was done with that painting, I examined it and decided it was too hard edged everywhere and kind of gloppy.  You know, the kind of gloppy that hurts your eyes because the edges just make your eyes stop and start constantly from all the hard edges?  I started thinking about what makes a painting great and decided that the viewer doesn’t care how I create a painting, they only care about the response emotionally they have with the painting.  In other words, I don’t want the viewer to know that I used palette knives.  I don’t want them thinking how did they create that.  I know other artists will do that and that is fine.  So, my goal with the palette knives is not to have it look like I created it with palette knives.  There are calm passages in the painting that are done with knives.  The only time I use a brush is at the very beginning to lay down the shapes and create my value plan.  Then I go to my palette knives.  I have 9 or 10 different shapes and sizes.  There are times that I feel I’m sculpting (especially when I use Michael Harding’s Stack Lead White) versus painting.  The best validation that I’m accomplishing my goal was just recently.  I was asked to display my artwork in an exhibit.  At the opening reception, people were coming up to me and saying, “I love your brushwork.”   I swear I did the “Snoopy happy feet dance” all the way home.  They would follow their compliment with, “I love the texture! How did you accomplish that?”  Then I would tell them it was all palette knives and they wouldn’t believe me.  So I have to really go into how I manipulate the knives and paints.   This has really been a wonderful experience and journey.  I am constantly trying to find a way to make really soft edges with the knife and also controlling your values is really important.  
"Lady of the Lake" by Linda Fisler

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
My painting palette is the primaries with white.   Just recently (last few years) with my association with Michael Harding Handmade Oil Colours, I have been trying a number of different palettes, but it is always a version of blue, red, yellow and white.  So, if it is a really warm painting, I might use Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red and CadmiumYellow with Titanium White.  Or I may decide the red in the scene is a cool red and add Alizarin Crimson to my palette.  My standard go to palette is French Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Titanium White number 2 from Michael Harding.  

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Whoever of the past Master’s work I am standing in front of is my favorite at the time!  Seriously, whenever I discover a new past masters’ work, they become my favorite for a time.  The ones I tend to return to is naturally Monet, Sorolla, Fechin, Cassatt, Sargent.  Today’s artist-my mentors naturally—Kevin, Joe Anna and George Gallo always inspire me and I enjoy their work.  Right now I am enjoying George’s color expressions and any time I talk with him he inspires me and makes me want to drop what I’m doing and go paint.   Joe Anna is always an inspiration as well—keeping drawing in the forefront for me.  I love looking at Quang Ho’s work and love talking with him about the ethereal side of art.   While I don’t have a desire to paint in the classical realism form, Michael Pearce is a good friend and provides wonderful food for thought as well.  The art chat shows have really provided lots of exposure to all the art genres that provides inspiration for wonderful growth I think. 
"A Road in the Shire" by Linda Fisler
What have been some of your crowning achievements?
Wow—this is a hard one for me because I don’t think in these terms.  I really don’t.  I don’t compete per se.  I’ve really stopped entering competitions because I’ve really been focusing on finding that voice and style.   I’ve been concentrating on capturing the viewer through emotion that the painting can draw out from people and I don’t think I’m there yet.   

So, if I think in these terms, I would say that my crowning achievements—the things that I’m most proud of to date are the teaching opportunities I’ve been given through course at Artist Network, AMO Art Chat/Art Chat with Linda Fisler (presented by the Artist Network)/Color Your World and teaching at the Middletown Arts Center.  I am most proud of my most recent palette knife work and very proud of the successful art event we had here in Middletown where we exhibited Kevin Macpherson’s Reflection On a Pond.  We had a 3 day event and raise over $20,000 for the Middletown Arts Center.  That was about 5 years ago, but it was a great success. 

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
Five?  I’m really going to have to think here for five!
 That I finish my novel and that it is a best seller.  That it becomes a movie.
That I work on a movie with George Gallo and his wife Julie. 
That I paint a painting that grabs the viewer emotionally and that will hang in the Lourve next to the Mona Lisa and people wait in line to see both (but prefer mine---haha!—you said dream big!)
That the second novel I am working on, I can include some of my paintings done specifically for the book and is the next “Lord of the Rings” like trilogy.  That I can create a whole culture with this second novel much like JRR Tolkien did with his Rings writings. 
That I live long enough to accomplish the 4 above and they don’t kill me!   

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Take the time to really learn the techniques, drawing, and ask yourself  how can you be different from everyone else.  As I told all my mentors—I don’t want to paint like you.  I want to understand how you accomplish what you accomplish in your paintings, so don’t tell me what you did, but how you did it.  How did you create the effect?  What is that missing piece of information that you tucked away that is vitally important for me to understand how that effect was created?  Anyone can mix blue and yellow and create a green.  The really hard part is to understand what is it about that green that you can create that connects with the viewer that says “I’m standing in the place the artist was at and it looks so real.  It transcends me to the same place”? Continue to dig deeper.  Find the beauty that you are seeking and don’t stop until you do.   And even then, I bet you won’t stop there.   

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Literally—“Quit putting certain artists on pedestals. Follow your own dream.” which in turn leads to this advice I give to you now. All things come and are given when the time is right.  Quit trying to hurry through it to get to the next milestone.  Art and life are journeys so follow your heart and create what is calling you.   If you like competing then by all means be competitive.  If you like creating to just capture the beauty to share, than capture the beauty and continue to learn.  To me, there are no rules about how an artist should live or what an artist needs to do to be successful.   Success is what you want it to be.  For me, success is a very nicely painted painting or a wonderfully written story that made someone experience something, to feel something.  Be true to what it is you want and go for it. 
"Sprock and Tigger" by Linda Fisler

Chocolate or vanilla?   Chocolate—always!

Your dream vacation spot?  Where I’m going in May—France!  The French Countryside!

Book or movie?    Has to be a movie!

Favorite author?  JRR Tolkien

Favorite movie?   Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid---really I could probably name movies I hated easier than my favorite.  

Romance or comedy? Comedy

Favorite dessert?  Mousse au Chocolat

Night owl or morning person?  Night owl

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous artist interview, Carrie. Linda sounds like she shares my enthusiasm for experiencing all that life has to offer.