Meet Artwork Archive artist Linda Tracey Brandon. Although she drew animated cartoons in her college years, Linda didn't focus seriously on representational painting until around 1996 and hasn't looked back. After close to 20 years of hard work, Linda is now an award-winning artist and has judged for a RayMar Art contest. When she’s not creating painterly, realist artwork out of her Arizona studio, Linda is passing on valuable skills and knowledge to her art classes. Linda shares thoughtful advice for emerging artists and fantastic art contest insight.
Want to See More of Linda’s Work? Visit LindaTraceyBrandon.com.
1. MUCH OF YOUR WORK IS SOFT, ETHEREAL, AND OFTEN TIMES WHIMSICAL WITH CHILDHOOD MOTIFS. WHAT INSPIRED/INSPIRES YOUR STYLE?
I like to think metaphorically and tangentially, in the way that poetry is a metaphor for broader life themes. I’m not sure my paintings are really narrative; I’d describe them as metaphorical. The world is a mysterious place where everything is connected in ways we can’t fully understand. I think this belief guides the way I paint - I look for things like abstract shapes, patterns, atmospheres of connection. Form exists in a context that may not be immediately evident.
2. WHAT COMPELS YOU TO PAINT CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A MODEL?
I love painting people. I find everyone interesting visually for some reason or another, and once you get to know a person, they just get more and more interesting.
3. IS THERE ANYTHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR STUDIO SPACE OR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I have a hyperactive corgi-australian shepherd mixed-breed rescue dog who wanders around my studio while I try to get work done. When I get stuck on a project we go for a walk around the neighborhood. I used to listen to ambient music or audiobooks while I work, but now mostly I just seem to talk to my dog and try not to step on him when I back away from the easel. I try not to have him around when I have a model in the studio, though.
4. IN ADDITION TO FIGURATIVE WORKS, LANDSCAPES AND STILL LIFES, YOU PAINT COMMISSIONED PORTRAITS. IS IT CHALLENGING TO CREATE SUCH A PERSONAL PIECE OF ART FOR A CUSTOMER? TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES.
I can’t remember my first actual portrait commission, but I painted and drew people for free for a long time before I charged money for doing commissions. I’m grateful that so many people have liked my work enough to pay me to paint them. A portrait should concern itself with an individual’s unique qualities, in addition to being a wonderful work of art; a figurative painting usually includes other, more universal or possibly narrative qualities.
5. YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR AN IMPRESSIVE AMOUNT OF JURIED SHOWS AND EXHIBITIONS. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THEM AND WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS?
Winning an art contest or getting into a show is a way to get feedback and a way to draw attention to your work in a crowded field. I think the theory is that it gives your work some validation and gives you more credibility in the eyes of collectors, galleries and the press. If you don’t have a lot of self-confidence about your work and you win a contest, it will change the way you think about yourself and your work. This itself will improve your work. Just knowing that somebody out there thinks you’re terrific will improve your performance; I’ve seen it happen this way time and time again. The most important thing is not to get discouraged by rejection. Every artist gets rejected. What’s important is to persevere.
Contests are especially useful if you have work that is hard to categorize and which may not be particularly commercial. However, it’s definitely not necessary to enter art contests. There are many artists who get noticed for a variety of other reasons. You should never let contests or galleries be the gatekeepers that prevent your work from being seen! Once you feel your work is the best you can make it, start getting it out there.
I set a budget for entering shows and contests and I keep a bulletin board with pushpins that helps me keep track of what I’m doing (in addition to using the Competitions tab on Artwork Archive). I like physically moving pieces of paper around since it supports the illusion that projects are moving in a forward direction. When I get too busy I miss deadlines, but that’s okay. When I get rejected I just try and focus on the next one. I’m probably a little obsessive about time and time management systems.
6. YOU HAVE BEEN A MENTOR THROUGH THE PORTRAIT SOCIETY OF AMERICA - CECILIA BEAUX SOCIETY ARTIST MENTORSHIP PROGRAM AND ARE AN ART TEACHER. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR EMERGING ARTISTS?
I’d urge emerging artists not to let their self-worth be determined by the approval of others. It can take a long time to find “your voice”. You really do need to work on what you love to work on, and see where that leads you. You don’t need to appeal to everyone, or even the “important ones”. Seek technical help (especially how to draw and paint well) and prepare to work on those skills for the rest of your life. It’s also important to have some trusted teachers, or other artists, who can give you valuable feedback on your work.
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