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Mind of the Artist, Part XI: Linda Norton

March 22, 2017

Sometimes it takes a little re-prioritizing to return us to our authentic selves–which, so much of the time, has to do with filling up our creative wells and reminding ourselves that we are artists.  Now, not all of us will spend our lives designing, creating, and making, but let Linda’s story be an inspiration that we can always return to what makes us creatively alive.  Her extraordinary story, in her own words:

Much of my life has centered on art in one form or another. My father made a small table and chairs for me so that I could sit in the kitchen while my mom cooked. She would give me used paper bags, construction paper, and office paper and I would tear them up, pasting them together with that white paste to make “collages.” When I could use crayons I went crazy with color. I often attempted to use all of the colors in the large 64 crayon box…the one with the sharpener built right in.

In elementary school the teachers tended to put me in charge of anything vaguely “artistic,” such as seasonal decorations and bulletin boards. Then when I was about eight or nine, the local Richmond television station, WTVR, participated in the launch of a new line of dolls, the Teri Lee dolls. As a part of the publicity they asked their young viewers to design a wardrobe for the dolls. I worked diligently and actually won the contest. The prizes included the dolls with complete wardrobes and an appearance on the television show. It was all very exciting and I still have these dolls, which launched a career in the arts.

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I continued a focus on art in high school, designing the school stationary and yearbook covers. In college I majored in Art (and Secondary Education, just in case the becoming a famous artist didn’t happen right away). I then taught Art at Elementary, Junior High, and High School levels. By then I was married and my husband’s job brought us to Washington. As it was not the right time of year to get a teaching job I went to work for an Interior Designer. I worked my up through the ranks until I started my own design business and enjoyed that profession for over twenty five years.

In 2000 I survived a brain aneurysm and re-ordered my priorities. What with raising two sons and running a business, I had been absent from doing my own artwork for quite a while. That was when I joined Gina Clapp’s drawing class at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. I found that drawing was something that came back easily and improved with practice. I ended up headed back into watercolors and pastels.

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The second year of class we had the luxury of being invited to spend time on the island of Bornholm, Denmark. Most of our class and some spouses went on the trip. After almost two weeks together, we were great friends and we remain so today. The art on the trip centered on keeping a travel sketchbook.

Since that time I always travel with a sketchbook and small supply kit for drawing and watercolor work. These completed books are some of my most treasured possessions.

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I have now published two small volumes: Capitol Hill is Home, celebrating the vibrant community on Capitol Hill, and Hiram Blake Camp: a sketchbook, which honors the 100th year of that family camp on Cape Rosier, Maine.

Learn more and purchase Linda’s beautiful books on her website.  And don’t forget to stop by the CHAL wall in the CHAW gallery to see the latest pieces from this talented group!  Next up is Stu Searles’ show, “In the Square,” opening Saturday, July 16 with a reception at 5pm.

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