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"In the Studio"
An Interview with Artist Lynda Thompson

(This interview is continued from the December 12 2009 Artellagram...)

Artella: What was happening in your life at the point where you were able to say "I am an artist"?

Lynda: I said I was an artist when I was a child. In more recent years, I went through having health problems to the extent that I had to stop working completely - I am disabled. Having to stop working was not something I had planned on doing at all, and I couldn't deal with not working. The physical problems were difficult enough without having the emotional upheaval from it all, I felt like a failure at the time. I was seeing a counselor who asked me a lot of questions and when I told her of the art background, she emphasized that and had me do various art things to bring in to her. At that point, the art bug got me again and I was able to start telling people I was an artist.

Artella: Most 'non-famous' artists sell their work at very low rates, and the public has come to expect to get art at bargain-basement prices. Any suggestions for over-coming this?

Lynda: I try to educate people about the products that are for sale in mass-market stores at such a low price. I tell them the products are probably made by people in China and other countries where there is slave labor and laborers who work under adverse conditions. I also tell them to try washing the product to see if it will fall apart, shrink or discolor. I emphasize the fabrics in a lot of the store quilts people see are of an inferior quality than what you purchase in a quilt shop. I do explain why my prices are higher than those of a mass marketer and that I choose to use the best resources and that I cannot count the value of my time invested in each piece because no one could afford it.

In addition, the work most artists sell are unique and one of a kind pieces. If the person purchases from one of these artists, they likely have something no one else has.

As for each individual artist, an artist has to learn to stand up to pressures from other people. It is amazing that sometimes if you value a piece higher it will sell faster because of a perceived value. Friends and family will often want a discount, etc. and often you have to stand your ground.

Artella: What advice can you give to people who feel like they have "too many ideas"?

Lynda: I definitely have this problem. Ideas are never a problem for me, it is the execution and finishing process that holds me up. One thing I do with my work is allow it to take its course. Sometimes I am searching for just the right embellishment, just the right fabric that will make the piece have full appeal. It can take me a couple of years to find the right thing to complete a piece. This is the year that I am working to complete all my uncompleted projects. On the other hand, I do have a couple of things I use to help me.

I recently purchased Julie Morgenstern's spiral stepped project notebook available from Franklin Covey. I assign one project to each stepped page. I place the name of the project at the top and then the steps below that I need to do for each project. I then check them off as I complete them. If you don't have a running list of what you do and the stage you are in, you will forget about projects or get confused about what you need to do.

The other thing is keep notebooks and files of your designs, scribbles and notes. Keep them together. You can write on that restaurant napkin, but file it so you can find it. You may want to get a scrapbook notebook and place it in there. You need to be able to review your designs and drawings. It is a great history too. Oh, and remember to date them.

Artella: What is your favorite piece of art you've ever created, and why?

Lynda: I created a Medina Autumn landscape art quilt. I started it in a class, completely my original design. I took the drawing of what I was going to do to the class. The sketch was of a scene in Medina County, Texas. No one in the class got their pieces done, so I planned on completing it. I worked on it for quite a while before I got it to where I wanted. So many people who saw the piece and who have seen the photos can't believe it is a fiber art work. I donated it to a charity in Medina County for them to auction off and raise funds.

Artella: When did you start working with fiber art? How did this inspiration begin?

Lynda: I really started making fiber art in 2002, though I had a bit of experience with it when I was in the 3rd grade. I helped my mom make some artwork pieces that had cut up fabric designs on them. In 2002, I was exposed to Quilting Arts Magazine. It opened my eyes up to what was possible for a person who sewed and quilted, and was also an artist. I found my niche.

Artella: Do you plan ahead when you're creating, or does your art unfold more spontaneously?

Lynda: I usually have some sketches and plans for what I want to make. Once I begin, I call it intuitive. The artwork takes off and I am usually following it instead of me leading. Pieces have turned out to be completely different than what I envisioned.

Artella: What do you find most rewarding in your life as an artist? What is most challenging?

Lynda: The most rewarding times have been when a child finds me working on my art on location, or I am doing something simple and they see it. They usually respond with, "You're an artist!(?)." The look in their eyes is magical.

The most challenging times are when I am not accepted for who I am, what I do, and the choices I make. I am a non-traditional quilter and artist, so it makes it difficult for most people to understand why I do what I do, or even to like the type of work I do.

Artella: How do you find your "voice" in your own art journey?

Lynda: I looked at what I was making over and over. I wasn't trying to make anything in series, but I looked to observe what was common in my work. What I found to be common in most of my works is a type of historical preservation, in landscapes and in portraits of individuals. The type of art I make and the way I execute those designs is my personal voice.

See Lynda's wonderful products in The Shoppes of Artella, here.

Want more artist interviews from Artella? Take a look at our eBooks Artist Profiles Assembled and Artist Profiles Assembled, Vol 2, and look at the "Ask the Artist" column every single day in The Artella Daily Muse, our daily online creativity newspaper.

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