31 Linda Adair
"Creating a quiet narrative with a little mystery is something I am always trying to achieve. My hope is to create works that communicate emotions that are universal, from experiences and shared histories."
Linda Adair is a contemporary realist painter from Germany. Starting to exhibit in 2011, she has exhibited throughout the US and Europe, through the Art Renewal Center, the Society of Illustrators, The Salmagundi Club, MEAM in Barcelona, and many other galleries and organizations. In 2015 she was a finalist for a Chelsea Award, and in 2016 she won grand prize at the Infected by Art 4 show.
'Doorway to Adventure'
Linda was born in Canada, and spent much of her life traveling, as she explains in this interview with Miu Vermillion (Beautiful Bizzare, 2017):
"I am Canadian by birth and Australian by marriage. I’m also half French, so a bit of a mix. Having lived in five continents: 14 years in North America, 2 years in South America. 7 years in Asia, 6 years in Europe and finally 7 years in Australia. I’ve had the opportunity to see and experience life through many cultures and see many sides to the human experience."
Linda tells about one of her biggest formative experiences (Vermillion, 2017):
". . . when I was 16. I was terribly asthmatic and had forgotten to bring my inhaler with me on what was supposed to be a quick trip to visit some relatives. We ended up being snowed in for 3 days with avalanches closing the trans-Canada highway and roads being impassable. After a prolonged asthma attack, I finally stopped breathing altogether and had an out-of-body experience that changed me. After that, I didn’t fear death which gave me the courage to live. One thing I’ve reflected on is what carries on after we’re gone. The things we build as monuments are rather empty, yet we live on in the memories, the consciousness of others."
'Tree of Splintered Dreams'
As a young woman, Linda chose a life of adventure, not unlike the stories she depicts in her work (Vermillion, 2017):
"I discovered my love of art at 13 when I saw an ad in the newspaper for an upcoming Mucha exhibition. I was so drawn to the image that I drew it and studied it and wanted more than anything to create something so beautiful. I started teaching myself and when I was 15 started doing portraits as a part-time job. By the time I was 16 I felt I had saved up enough so I left home, which at the time was Canada. I went first to Russia, traveling from Moscow down as far south as Astrakhan and then up to Ufa in the Ural Mountains. I traveled cheaply, my only source of income was my ability to draw and this was my freedom.
Linda specifies some details in this interview with Laura Gomez (Klassik Magazine, 2020). So, she met her Australian husband in Mexico. They married in California. And, she currently has three children.
'Queen of the North'
Linda talks about her artistic goals (Gomez, 2020):
"I take an experience, and then try to abstract it or distill it down to the emotion, the feeling and from there I can re-imagine it. I create pictures so I don’t have to explain or talk about the experiences. Others may not have gone through what I have, but, they’ve gone through other things and it’s the emotion, at it’s foundation, that feeling that people can relate to. . ."
"You don’t need to specifically tell your story, but boil down those feelings you’ve experienced and you’ll find others can relate. Feelings of being an outsider, anxiety, imposter syndrome, heartbreak, the emptiness of loss/death, hopelessness, being invisible in a crowd, feeling lost, being different and not understood, feeling trapped … whatever it is, someone else is experiencing it too. Perhaps from a different angle, or circumstance, but the feeling, the essence of it is the same.
"I can re-imagine that essential feeling or emotion and create a completely different perhaps more palatable scenario. If you can translate that, and communicate it, you’ve succeeded. I’ve personally experienced many things, from trauma, abuse and danger to exhilaration and real joy. I am not ignorant enough to believe I am unique in this. That is why I know I can communicate some of these experiences in their most basic form and I will find resonance in others. I know this, because I’ve found it to be true."
'She Came Looking For Me'
In 2017 Linda had a exhibit at Distinction Gallery in San Diego. The title of the show was 'Echoes' and Linda describes it (Vermillion, 2017):
"Echoes is set in an empty world where we are gone and all that is left are echoes of humanity. Children forever waiting to go home, medieval legends forever on their quests, gods and mythical creatures from our stories and beliefs endlessly wandering our world. Our collective consciousnesses may be silent, but the echoes remain.
"There is an additional topic I have woven in to a couple of the pieces, like a smaller story arc. They are the ones featuring the young Satyr. Over the previous year, my daughter who is in high school has been friends with an adolescent whom she described as “gender fluid”. This child had been bullied and my daughter was one of his only friends. She would ask to take her older brothers’ old school uniform to give him as he wasn’t allowed to wear a boys uniform, etc. Right before I worked on these pieces, it had come to a head. The school called to let me know that this child was officially transitioning gender, and that my daughter had volunteered to be his buddy. He wouldn’t be allowed to use either the male or female restrooms and had to only use the disabled at the front office so would need to be accompanied by another student there and back, and my daughter had volunteered.
Linda talks about her artistic process (Vermillion, 2017):
"My work-week has changed quite a bit since moving my studio this year. In general, I work Monday to Friday from 8am until 5pm, unless under a deadline. If we’re home on the weekend, I can usually squeeze a few hours of painting then too. I’ve found keeping regular work hours when possible helps with my work/life balance.
Linda talks about her biggest artistic influences (Vermillion, 2017):
"I don’t know about who is the greatest of all time, but I do know who have had the greatest influence on me and who are my personal inspirations. I love the classical works of J.W. Waterhouse, and Jean-Léon Gérôme. The more narrative work of Howard Pyle, Frank Brangwyn, Dean Cornwell, Mead Schaeffer and N.C. Wyeth. The gorgeous design of Alphonse Mucha, and the beautiful paint handling of John Singer Sargent and Richard Schmid. There are so many more that I love and admire, these are only a few examples."
'The Flying Dutchman'
In this interview with Chris Alvarez (Illuxcon, 2017), Linda talks about pop culture influences and inspiration:
"It's a complicated question because so many different pieces are inspired by different things. A lot of my work is inspired by literature and reading. Some of them, though, I was in a spot, like this particular one, I was in a physically spot that was just so compelling that I had to paint it. But, there's other ones, like 'Longing' here, where I created it more for an emotion, and she's always on the outside looking in, never part of either world. And, I had fun doing it. I was inspired to do it, and then I saw the place the place where I wanted to do it. And then, for example, this one, 'The Tree of Splintered Dreams', I sketched out an idea and then I was like, 'I have to paint this.' So it wasn't inspired by seeing something. It was more like, I was just imagining this tree that lived off of the unrealized hopes and dreams of children. You know when you're a kid you're like, 'I wanna be a firefighter or pilot, or something,' And then, you don't always do that when you grow up, and where do those things go, those aspirations and those dreams and those hopes? And I was imagining this landscape where this living entity would live off of those energies. And so... some of them are just bizarre."
"I remember watching The Fifth Element for the first time and going, 'Oh my God, that's just so awesome.' I love that, flying cars, just the whole setting and everything in it. But, since then, I mean obviously Star Wars. And all of it, I love watching it and reading it. Everything from super heroes, cartoons, all the way to full-on movies. I love it, it's a good world to be in. I don't actually paint a lot of it, but it's very inspiring and exciting. More recently, obviously, it's not that long ago, but Harry Potter and all the magical elements. That appealed to me in a huge way. And I've always loved... it's escapism, you just love thinking, 'Oh that could've been me, I could've had that little trip to Hogwarts.' This one is actually called 'Practicing Without a License' She's practicing her magic, and not every spell goes well, there's a learning curve. And, I was imagining one of the students out of school, just kinda trying it out and having to live with it."
Linda's favorite writers include (Gomez, 2020):
"HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, Matt Ruff, Patrick Rothfuss, Matt Suddain, and plenty more."
When asked about her favorite piece, Linda responds (Gomez, 2020):
"That’s like asking which is your favorite child. Some of my paintings are milestones for me and they will always have a special place, others are special for the subject matter or emotion I was conveying. In general, I would say my favorite is the next one. I am excited about the possibilities that the next piece might bring."
'The Constant Man - 1920'
'The Constant Man - 1940'