In the Studio with…

Our newest Pen Woman feature, In the Studio with… highlights an artist member and her process. We hope it inspires and informs other artists in their own work. Submissions are welcome from members — please send the article, along with high-resolution JPG images (showing the artist at work, progression of a piece focused on process, and finished work) to Art Editor Darlene Yeager-Torre at arteditor@nlapw.org.


 

In the studio with Linda Mitchell, Atlanta Branch

Narrative Paintings on Fabric
By Jamie Tate, Art Editor

 

Me with dog

A couple of years ago, Linda Mitchell of the Atlanta Branch stepped out of the box of familiarity into the unknown zone of experimentation. It was a serendipitous moment.

Wanting to start a new and large painting, she realized she did not have canvas to put on the stretcher bars. She did, however, have plenty of beautiful fabrics on hand that she regularly used for soft-sculpture figures and installations.

Magic Carpet by Linda Mitchell

The determination to paint, combined with her artist’s natural curiosity and openness to the creative process, led Mitchell to try a completely new thing. She pieced together some fabric and stretched that on the stretchers. She then used her iPad to sketch ideas over a photo of the quilted fabric panel, because, as she states, “Once you put paint on fabric, there’s no going back.”

 

Developing a rough concept of the image on the iPad allowed for even more experimentation with various ideas and interpretations before actually painting onto the fabric panel. In fact, Mitchell says it took quite a while to work up the nerve to actually put paint on it, but once it happened, she was very pleased with the outcome. She has been working in this process ever since, with an amazing body of work to show for her efforts. The results are beautiful, sensitive, narrative paintings that have voice and presence.

Linda Mitchell hung many of these in an exhibition titled “Seamless Stories” at Thomas Deans Fine Arts in Atlanta during November and December 2016.

Artist’s Statement: “Seamless Stories”

Quilts tell stories through pattern and color. I was inspired by the craft of piecing together of fabric remnants to make a cohesive whole. I’m also fascinated with the process of patching and repairing sails in the traditional utilitarian fashion, which ultimately results in an aesthetic fabric and thread composition. The impetus from these sources resulted in these painted quilts that originate from the fabric remnants of my life and those around me. The history inherent in scraps of fabric speaks of memory, experience and personal expression.  Pattern, with its infinite references in nature and human creation creates a base of lively visual conversation on which I layer the strong linear narratives. The embellished fabric reference lends itself to the wall-hanging tapestry presentation with its traditional history of storytelling.

 

“Come Home”

These pieces delve into images and phrases that were embedded in my head during childhood. My mother’s admonition to “Hold Your Horses” always seemed like an attempt to curb my enthusiasm and energy, and I had to later learn how to let my “horses” run wild.  “Come home” interprets the constant pull from a little house-person with legs that seems to be chasing the cow in order to bring it safely home. Childhood runs deep and never really leaves us. These pieces speak to the child within, allowing the small inner spirit to emerge, heal, and hopefully enrich the adult.