Inside the Studio of Director Linda Post

By Mark J. Post

You’ve heard the phrase “by artists, for artists” about Paradise City’s shows. The events have often been described as “designed and curated from an artist’s perspective”. What does all that really mean? One thing it means is a whole lot of work for Founding Director Linda Post, whose show of recent paintings, “The Willing Suspension of Disbelief”, just finished at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA. Watch the video.  

Linda Post | The Willing Suspension of Disbelief |
53 x 72″ | Oils on Canvas

This exhibition of large-scale oil paintings, saturated with dense color, reflects on narratives which delve into memories and dreams. Linda’s work examines the nature of womanhood, the space within relationships, and the conjunction of dreaming and waking states. By exploring imagined land and seascapes, she creates a sense of uncertainty and mystery.

How many pieces are in the show?

There are nine oil paintings in the large upstairs gallery space. The new painting this show is organized around is the only one that is actually a work in progress. Once the show comes down, it will go back to my studio to be completed. Also, from May 8 through the close of the exhibit, the anteroom to that gallery will house “Sirens”. This is a very large work, 84” x 72”. The scale and intense color of this painting (the larger-than-life figures are set against a brilliant cadmium red sky) makes it the perfect piece to welcome viewers to the exhibit. On the right-hand wall is “Birdwatchers of Chappaquiddick”. 31″ tall by 76″ wide, this work has a truly panoramic feel.

Tell us more about the this series.

Most of the works in the exhibit have not been publicly on view in a finished state, and certainly not together. This series of oil paintings began as an exploration of personal autonomy and the transformations of adolescence. My models are usually girls and young women I know, and some of the art tracks them as they go through adolescence and into adulthood. The narratives implicit in the paintings are mysterious, meant to evoke a viewer’s individual dreams and memories.

My paintings take place in imaginary landscapes. With figures, seascapes, architectural elements, water and skies pieced together from different times and places, I create a sense of uncertainty – is it real, or not? The striped, peaked tents in some of the paintings evoke an especially vivid dream, but actually do exist in their original form on Chappaquiddick Island, Martha’s Vineyard. Birds, too, have often appeared in my work, sometimes as companions, other times as avatars of change, growth or escape.

Most recently, the scale of the paintings has become – literally – larger than life. You feel as if you can walk right into the art and be immersed in its surroundings and atmosphere.

The Raven’s Gift Oil on canvas
30″ x 40″
Speaking the Language of Birds Oil on linen 75″ x 48″
Summer Redundant, Blueness Abundant Oil on wood panel 24″ x 36″

Isn’t it unusual to show an unfinished painting in such a public way?

I like painting on a hard surface. For my large-scale work I tack huge pieces of primed linen canvas to my studio wall. When the painting is mostly complete, I decide on its finished dimensions and order a furniture-quality stretcher from a woodworker in California. I roll up the canvas and bring it to Michelson Galleries’ big framing room. Don Robinson, their framer, and I stretch it together. At that point I usually leave it on display in the gallery for a few weeks. It helps me figure out the finishing touches by seeing the work stretched and hung in a space outside my studio.

The final stages of stretching the painting “The Willing Suspension of Disbelief”. Linda Post and Don Robinson in the framing workshop at R. Michelson Galleries. Photographer: Geoffrey Post

For the past few years, I have shared the process and progress of all of my paintings in a running blog on my website. Each painting starts with a collage of unrelated images, using photographs I have taken of people and locations. The photocollage is transferred to a prepared wood panel or canvas by making a full-sized line drawing. As I paint, I often change components; add or delete figures; simplify or intensify backgrounds; build light and shadow to provide a sense of reality.

The close-to-finished painting at the center of the exhibit at R. Michelson Galleries is the subject of six blog posts, which are part of the show. These musings on the progress of “The Willing Suspension of Disbelief” take the viewer from inspiration and initial concept to the nitty-gritty of reaching an (almost) completed work. After this exhibit is dismantled, the painting may go through a few more changes before it is declared finished.

About Linda Post

Linda H. Post’s paintings, pastels and monotypes have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the country and reside in many important public and private collections, including the Mead Museum at Amherst College, the Boston Public Library, Reader’s Digest and Equitable Life Assurance Co. She has had two solo shows at the Mary Ryan Gallery in New York City, eight one-person shows at the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton, MA and solo shows at the University of Massachusetts and Mary Washington College. Her work has been included in numerous invitational shows and juried exhibitions in New England, New York and the Southeast. Post has been featured in extensive photo essays in Poets & Artists, American Art Collector, Preview and American Artist magazines. Her painting “Solstice” was featured on the cover of The Gettysburg Review and received an eight-page color portfolio inside the same issue. Color reproductions of her work have graced the cover of Cornell University’s Epoch literary magazine and were selected for the cover and the content of five Return of the Goddess Engagement Calendars and the hardcover book. Reviews and images of her work have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Artful Mind and other national and regional publications. A 24-page color catalogue was published in conjunction with her solo show, Balancing Acts, at the R. Michelson Gallery. Read more. She is a Founding Director of Paradise City Arts Festivals.

About R. Michelson Galleries

For over 35 years, R. Michelson Galleries has been acknowledged as a leader in discovering and nurturing the careers of many of the country’s best known figurative artists. Art originally exhibited in the galleries now hangs in many of the most prestigious museums in America, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Art Institute of Chicago. They are proud to be the first American art gallery to feature the art of children’s book illustration alongside and on an equal footing with the more traditional fine arts. R. Michelson Galleries is located in Northampton, Massachusetts, the #1 art town in America, in which “the most prominent visual arts space is R. Michelson Galleries.” Gallery Phone: 413.586.3964.

–John Villani, The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America