Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Spiars.
Linda, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I grew up in an Appalachian family. My father was a West Virginia coal miner. We had a tiny two bedroom house with a family of 10. My art supplies were a cigar box of broken crayons and paper plates, newspaper or anything I could find to draw on. We were poor, and things like travel or vacation just didn’t exist. I was a kid who craved travel and wanted to see the world. I read, and I drew. It allowed me to go places long before my feet left home and it allowed me to express myself when my voice was just one of many.
I grew up and stayed creative. I made creative things that I sold. I made unique displays at church. I painted, but I was frustrated. I knew inside that I could do better. I had so much more on my heart that I could get onto the paper or canvas. I just did not know how to get there. In 2012 I found myself an empty nester. I had time and energy and thought “what now.” I googled “art class” and “photo club” and started looking up possibilities. I started classes at Phoenix Center for the Arts and joined a photo club. I was terrified and thought it was one of the bravest things I ever did. I was a nervous wreck and remembered being exhausted after that first class. Still, I loved it. I was finding what I had always craved – the skills to express myself.
I started putting some art in shows but was not thrilled by themes. I don’t mind spending alot of time on a painting, but want it to be something that feeds my soul. I met two other women who felt the same and started an art ministry named “Call to Art” at Desert Springs Community Church. It’s a place where artists can come for support and express themselves spiritually.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I love to paint with acrylic and oil paint. Sometimes I will do mixed media and add elements like collage and fused glass.
My daughter said something painful to me years ago. She said “Mom you are a better artist than I am. You just don’t have anything to say.” It hurt because it was true. It changed how I approached my art.
For me, art is my way to spiritually express myself and what God is saying to me. I spend a long time praying and meditating on an idea before I ever pick up my brush. There are times I meditate, and an idea pops into my head in one complete flash of an image. Other times it comes in stages over months and years. I don’t mind the time it takes and don’t feel the need to rush this process. I enjoy it. The painting I am working on now I have talked about for at least three years.
The goal of my art is to communicate where God is in my life. Sometimes it can be a fish with its mouth at the surface of the water. I had painted one and was struggling one day. I told God I felt like that fish – buried with problems and barely coming up for air. I think 15 minutes later I got a call telling me my brother died. I looked at the fish and thought “now I’m so deep I need a straw for air.” I remembered that God’s mercy is new every morning and how much I needed it. I put that fish painting in the next show and handed out straws to people who felt like they were there – struggling for the next breath and offered encouragement.
Another favorite is one where I express gratitude to God for every little thing in life – even something as simple as a child doing the “itsy bitsy spider.” The child, in this case, is my own grandson who has special challenges, and the hand he holds up is paralyzed. I remember the day I sang the song to him and my son said: “Mom, he can’t’ do that.” I told him “Baby, he’ll find his way.” The next day I sang the song and made the motions. A.J. picked up his hand and awkwardly poked a finger into his closed fist making the motions his way. The painting is A.J. and my son doing the motions together. It’s something so ordinary but worth celebrating.
God is with me in what seems like an ordinary day, on a very difficult day, and on a beautiful day – I just need to recognize it. I hope to instill how I walk that out in my own life and share it in my work.
Once a year I participate in a collaborative project with the Call to the Art community. The projects are often my favorite part of the year – a time where we come together to work on a collaboration with a unified message.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
Being an artist has never been easy, and I don’t see it getting any easier. We have a community where over 40 creatives come together for a beautiful celebration of creativity. We have the show on Friday night from 6:30 to 9:00. Our work is up for just 2 and a half hours.
The artists have done incredible collaborative projects that deserve to be seen. One of them has over 1,000 hours of work. For both the work in the show and the collaborative project it would be great to have more places to share the work being done.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work is displayed in the annual shows with Call to Art at Desert Springs Community Church, 14440 West Indian School Road, Goodyear, AZ 85395. The next show “Bridging the Gap” is on May the 10th at Desert Springs Community Church, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Two of my portraits will be a part of the collaborative project “Bridged” For this project over 5o people met with somebody with at least a 25 year age difference. They interviewed each other, and the artist then did a portrait of the other person. This collaboration will be a part of the show “Bridging the Gap.”
There is also a “gallery hallway” with artwork from myself and other artists. Often the collaborative projects and work from workshops are hung there.
Artists from the Call to Art community have work hanging in Ribbons Tea Shop in Litchfield Park.
- Address: Desert Springs Community Church
14440 W. Indian School Road
Goodyear, AZ 85395
- Website: calltoart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/hear it see it paint it
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/calltoart
- Other: www.instagram.com/azcalltoart