Congratulations to our February Artist of the Month, Linda Besse! Linda was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her painting In the Pink is below. Read more about what sparked her artistic interest and how one interaction with a child instilled a sense of self-appreciation in her.
Meade, WA ~ besseart.com
My leap into the art world started when I saw a plein aire artist in Hawaii and thought it would be fun to paint. The foray into my local art supply store would make for a great comedy. When I announced to the sales clerk I’d like to paint, she asked, “What medium?” I didn’t know so she said “How about oil.” Adding that I needed one of the things you paint on, the thing where you mix the paints, and that, you know, thing you lean the work against, she supplied me with canvas, palette and easel. My Master of Science degree in Geology had not shed light on fine art creation.
I became a full-time artist in 1999. Working exclusively in oil, most of my paintings are wildlife. However, I do like to dabble in western, seascapes and even European street and museum settings to “stretch my brushes.”
While at Lake Nakuru in Kenya, I was taking some reference shots of the thousands of flamingos and soon realized I was surrounded by them on three sides. What a thrill! My wildlife paintings come from my reference material including photographs and drawings. But I find it’s when I put down the camera and drawing paper and really see my surroundings that I am best able to capture the essence of the scene. Most of my pieces have the colors of the natural world; browns, greens, blues and yellows. It was particularly fun to deviate and use some pinks and peaches for In the Pink, which is why I wanted to paint it. I paint on untempered hardboard which I gesso. On this particular piece I used Daniel Smith’s venetian red gesso which unfortunately is no longer available. My last few gallons are very precious to me.
It’s almost impossible to say how long I spend on a painting. Do I count the time to see animals in Africa or the five to six years the idea for the piece was germinating in my head? The actual time painting is small compared to gathering my ideas and figuring out the composition.
With most of my paintings depicting wildlife, it’s the animal that inspires me. Whether I am canoeing above the Arctic Circle to see musk ox in the wild, or crossing the Drake Passage in 48-foot seas en route to Antarctica to see penguins, or paddling the Zambezi River in Africa to see elephants, I’m constantly moved by the wildlife I encounter.
I once had a young girl of about ten-years-old come to a show in which I’d participated. She looked around at my work, gave an approving nod, came up to me and told me how beautiful it was, then added that if she can’t be what she really wants to be when she grows up, she is going to be an artist. When I asked what she really wanted to be, she said, “Dentist.” I don’t know what she is doing now, but do know I’m really glad I am an artist.