Profile in Passion: Linda Woods. Artist, Rule Breaker & Universal Sister

by Jane Devin on 08/14/2008

Linda spent the first several years of her life being nearly silent–she hardly spoke to anyone. When she entered kindergarten, Linda would not talk, but she would draw and paint . . .and her teachers did not know how to “fix” her vivid, emotional art. Linda has since come out of her shell, all the better prepared for the world by her time spent in it. Whether through silence or through bold colors, Linda’s passion for–and commitment to–self expression defines her. By speaking so loudly, Linda encourages and enables others to see and share their passions. And she’s the best sister ever. – - Karen Dinino, Author, and Sister of Linda Woods

Linda Woods describes herself as the black sheep of the family. The third-born in a family of two boisterous boys and a more outgoing older sister, she was a born artist, who grew up feeling different, not only in looks (she’s petite and darker than her siblings), but in the way she viewed the world around her. Childhood circumstances, such as having to work in the grade school cafeteria in exchange for a reduced lunch price, were acutely felt by the shy, quiet girl who grew to hate everything about school except the art classes. In these, she excelled, and drawing and painting became not only her instinct, but her safe haven.

After a contentious split between her parents when Woods (nee Goldberg) was four, she and her siblings were left with a largely absent father who didn’t pay child support, and a mother who struggled to earn enough to keep four children fed. The struggle wasn’t always successful. There were times when food was short, and times when a parent was needed, and none were around. The siblings – Lee, Karen, Linda, and Tod – turned instead to each other for support and grew amazingly close, not only in caring, but in interests. Lee Goldberg and Tod Goldberg are both respected authors. Karen Dinino is a practicing attorney, but also collaborated with Woods on two books, Visual Chronicles and Journal Revolution.

Woods left high school at 16 to pursue her passion at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she studied visual arts and graphic design. Sharing a one-room apartment with her older sister, Karen, who was attending UCLA, Woods eked out a living working for a print shop and selling hand-painted I AM ART t-shirts and other creations at the local swap meet.

“Our furniture was wooden crates we stole from the back of the grocery store and two beach chairs. We both scheduled our classes for morning, so we could spend the afternoons at the beach. We’d carry our two chairs from our living room to the beach and back, and at night we’d do our home work and I’d paint shirts.” Woods describes those lean years as “the best of times”. Eventually, the two sisters made it to a bigger apartment and better furniture before marrying their respective husbands within months of each other.

The first time I met Linda Woods, I felt like an adoptee meeting her real-life sibling for the first time. Whether it was because the same things annoyed us both – such as humorless people, people who don’t ask questions, and insincere people – or whether it’s because we appreciated the same things – like laughter, loyalty, sarcasm, and great chocolate, is difficult to say. What was easy was the communication and the instant feeling of sisterhood.

I’m not the only one who has felt that bond. Many other women have also claimed Woods for a sister (or seester, as they often say on her blog). Her spontaneous warmth, quirky sense of humor, and love for sharing art in all its various forms is a draw to other artists, whether they are just beginning or looking for new perspectives.

Woods’s career has been soaring since Visual Chronicles hit the bookstores. Her art has been featured on television shows like The View, in magazines such as Somerset and Artist Sketchbook, and in books such as Living the Creative Life.

It was a pleasure to interview Linda Woods, my sister, my friend, and an artist whose passion is not only in paint and ink, but in breaking the rules.

The artist’s temperament. What does that mean to you?

I think that artist temperament is kind of an insult, or else a wall people try to hide behind or throw in front of others, as if it could protect them from having to be good, smart business women.

There are several facets to being an artist. The first, of course, is creation. Then there’s marketing, promotion, and finding an audience for your work. Do you find the bridge between solitude and being “out there” difficult?

I think one difficulty in crossing that bridge between solitary creation and being “out there” is that the the artist’s creation may NOT be what the admirer sees. So when you cross the bridge, you actually aren’t in the same place as the person you came to meet, and that can be awkward.

I create alone, in my own little world with the music blasting, a bag of chocolate chips at my side, and my own thoughts and feelings flowing. I don’t even notice time passing! Even when I am out in the world just living my life, I am observing, listening, SEEING, creating art in my head. I’m paying attention to all the little details and making mental notes, which is very similar to what I do with marketing and PR but with the art, it’s private and much less exhausting. It can be a challenge going between the parts of the day where I am alone working on art and then doing the marketing of the art, dealing with people. It’s like being two different people with two different jobs.

You’ve collaborated with your sister, Karen Dinino, on two books (Visual Chronicles and Journal Revolution). Was that always the plan, or did the idea to collaborate occur spontaneously?

I’ve collaborated with my sister on my entire life so the books seemed like a natural progression! We do everything together. I think it was always the plan once it became the plan but as plans with us go, there is never really a plan. Karen is the only person I ever really want to work with. We never get sick of each other, we always know what the other one thinks, we agree on everything, and she always leaves me the last bite of pie.

You’ve also been featured in several magazines, most recently for your journaling endeavors. How different is it to create art for a singular purpose, like an article or specific audience, rather than as something you create solely for you?

When I create without the intention of selling a piece or a specific market, I do not sensor myself at all. When I am creating art for a specific publication, there are usually guidelines or requests the editor gives. I start by creating one version of a piece the way I would do it if there were no rules then do a second watered down version for the publication. I always create for me first. Sometimes the first version ends up being the one the editor wants but I can offer both. I like to give options. Part of being professional and successful is being able to work with editors and be flexible. Sometimes I do have to rework my art. Sometimes some pieces are not appropriate for some publications in their original form. By creating the version I want first, if it’s not the one that gets published, I have still expressed myself. Part of the job is knowing which battles to choose and knowing when to tailor your art to a specific audience. You won’t connect with people if they don’t connect with your art.

We’ve been talking about the “too much” accusations that are often leveled against passionate artists, particularly women. What “too much” or “not enough” charges have you heard throughout your career, and how have they affected you?

I used to be told often that I was ‘too mad’, and I WAS mad. I was so mad, I could hardly speak. Then I decided to turn that anger into art. Now people think I am so nice, and the funny thing is, I am more expressive with my anger and emotion than when they thought I was mad! The thing people wanted less of is what they ask for more of now.

I recently saw how your lack of rules affected what’s become known as the Scrapbook Mafia. What is with those people?

The gist of it is a bunch of scrapbookers got upset because we teach people that expressing yourself does not require acid-free products or expensive art supplies. They didn’t (and still don’t) understand the difference between self expression (ART!) and preserving memories. We teach people to preserve their sanity, not their memories. We also tell women to journal their own lives, not just their husband’s or children’s. So, they frequently send hate mail and write blogs about how awful we are for suggesting that people express themselves with whatever ART supplies they have handy, whether it’s duct tape or the back of a cardboard box.

You’re fortunate to be a working artist and photographer — it’s your passion and your livelihood. What’s the next step in your evolution?

Forms of expression cannot be predicted–the fun of discovery and invention are part of what impassions me!

Woods’s latest venture is still somewhat of a secret, but I can tell you it will feature women and photography in a totally different, but bonding light. Like the books that preceded it, this one promises to share stories of women and sisterhood through art, humor, and relatable experiences. As for rules, the Mafia can keep them. Woods’s only abiding rule is that there are no rules in art – least of all those that inhibit creativity or expression.

Other Links:

Linda’s Etsy Shop


1 Cara August 15, 2008 at 1:33 am

I am utterly and completely blown away!!
Fabulous questions for a fabulous artist.
Love Linda and Karen’s plans, the scrapbook mafia and everything in between!

2 Tracey August 15, 2008 at 4:35 am

Fab interview – have been reading Linda’s blog for a few years now and it still inspires me, makes me laugh, makes me question things. Perfect. Looking forward to more of this new venture.

3 Amanda August 15, 2008 at 4:47 am

Linda is VERY inspiring!

I love this interview. Great Job!

4 V-Grrrl August 15, 2008 at 8:02 am

When I was living in Belgium, an American engineer living in the UK, someone I had never met but who read my blog, sent me Linda and Karen’s first book.

A professional writer, I had been a suppressed artist for years, and that book gave me the courage to break out and dare to make art, without concern whether I was “good” at it or not. Within days of receiving the book, I’d made my first art journal page and posted it on my blog. I’ve had two pieces published and offers to buy some of my mixed media pages.

I recently began taking painting classes, I have a space dedicated to making art in my home. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Linda’s and Karen’s books changed my life.

And even if you’re not looking for TRANSFORMATION, Visual Chronicles and Journal Revolution are just a blast to read. The writing is fun, snappy, full of humor, and good advice, and yet focused and practical. The books are also a visual feast that I return to time and time again for inspiration of all types.

I’m glad Linda has found her voice and that she’s generous in sharing her anger, humor, and unique take on the world with all of us.

5 Lelainia Lloyd August 15, 2008 at 8:09 am

OH Linda, they forgot to say what a kind and generous spirit you are! (So I’M sayin’ it!)

I think what makes your work so well received is that is so relateable-the honesty and integrity of your soul shines through and that’s what people connect with. Add a dash of humour and well…MAGIC!

Congratulations on such a great interview. Keep living your dreams because by doing so, you are giving others the permission to do so too! Viva la revolution!

6 Sandi August 15, 2008 at 8:23 am

Journal Revolution is one of my favorite books. It sits on the shelf in my studio next to Ali Edwards’ book who I also admire, adore and am uncharacteristically mute in her presence (still kicking myself for that!) Linda gives permission to artists who are recovering “good girls” to do whatever feels expressive. We don’ need no stinkin’ rules!

Another great interview/article. Loving this series.

7 Robbie August 15, 2008 at 8:43 am

I love getting a peek at what makes artists tick. This is a great look at an artist I admire. I love her books for the inspiration and encouragement they offer.

I look forward to reading more of your profiles of passionate women.

8 Terry Uchida August 15, 2008 at 8:52 am

Wow! Beautiful article about a beautiful woman (note the great eyebrows and cool haircut in the sidebar photo). So often, you only hear about an artist’s accomplishments in “dig me” articles; to read something deeper about that artist, to learn things you never would have expected about a her, that makes a story worth reading! Jane, I’m so glad that you wrote about Linda and that she linked you in her blog. I’m looking forward to hours of catching up on what you have to say!

9 Gia August 15, 2008 at 9:02 am

Oh Jane!!! I’m so glad you did a piece on Linda! Linda is one of my favorite people in the world. Linda woke up my creative self, and inspired me to begin writing again!!! Linda is so funny, creative, an inspiration, and of course PASSIONATE!!! I loved reading this piece!!!

Thank you again Jane for doing this series on passionate women! You have no idea what an impact you’re leaving! I remember someone saying before that you should do a piece on yourself….. I would absolutely love that!!!

Okay…going to read it again!!! Can’t wait to see who’s next!!!!

10 Maria August 15, 2008 at 9:18 am

Wow. I am absolutely blown away Jane. This has got to be the best interview I’ve read EVER! I can hardly spell out the words of excitement! Thank you for the most amazing read.

And yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you. For me, too, meeting Linda was like meeting a twin sister with whom I had lost contact at birth! So much soul sisterhood. She is such an amazing artist, friend and seester!

And thanks so much for using one of the pictures from the Buddah Woods series in your article! Such great memories. I feel so honored. Thank you! :D

11 Gia August 15, 2008 at 9:24 am

I was going back and reading about these wonderful women again. I just noticed that you said you were doing…oops, let me rephrase….that you were writing a series on 6 women. Linda’s number 6. Please tell me it’s not over????

12 Jeanne August 15, 2008 at 10:08 am

yah! I haven’t met Linda but want to (another adopted seester!). I always feel like saying “that’s what I thought!” when I read her blog. It annoys me like crazy that lazy people cannot put their shopping carts away — a small thing, I know. I am so glad that I met Dustin and that led me to Linda’s blog. Great writing Jane and I know Linda will keep inspiring people! I don’t have a copy of her book yet but I have taken up journaling again.

13 BellaKarma August 15, 2008 at 10:09 am

This is the kind of writing that makes this one of my all-time favorite blogs.

Now I feel inspired to write on my own blog why I didn’t introduce myself to Karen and Linda at The Art Bar in Santa Ana in ’06 (other than ‘cos I was checking out Traci). I’m sure they won’t blame me, considering I am Sicilian and have had my share of Mafia encounters.

I’ll be sure to let you know when I write the post.

14 Sondra August 15, 2008 at 10:15 am

Great interview, seester! Anytime you get the attention and appreciation that you deserve, even though I’ve never met you in person, I am soooo unspeakably proud! (yes, i am weird)
So three cheers for you, your work, and your angry passion. LOL

15 Sandi August 15, 2008 at 10:16 am

I had to immediately go blog about this article.
There is some circular blogaliciousness going on today!

16 Verna G. August 15, 2008 at 10:27 am

Amazing and well written interview!

After discovering both books and blogs, Linda has been a constant source of inspiration of both life and art!

Looking forward to reading about more women and their passions.

17 Grange Lady Haig Rutan August 15, 2008 at 10:36 am

Voo doo woman, Jane all over the place, in and out, devouring, with your questions and answers, giving us the secrets to masticate, digest and then create havoc of our own with your exquisite results…..after reading your interview with Linda,I feel I was just introduced to a kindred spirit who’s journey was/is mine and I’m old enough to be her great-grandmother. I’m smiling because I too know this joy, this excitement of being alone and losing all sense of time for no rhyme or reason other than that something is cooking in that caulderon called “brain” right or left, can’t tell but the recipe creates itself and all sense of time has evaporated like a jazz solo never recorded into the rare and toxic ether of the day or night. I love this woman and I hear the lyrics of some lilting tune I used to sing when I was young…er…

18 Kate August 15, 2008 at 11:02 am

Thank you–both.
You’re invited to a party in Tucson.
I throw a great party.

19 Pamela August 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

Love this piece Jane! Both you and Linda are my Seesters! Like it or not – you’re stuck with me now. Linda is a gifted artist and a genuine gal who is honest, smart, and funny. This is a combination that is hard to beat.

I’ve been loving this series and though it is an honor to be among these amazing women – I have to say the BEST part of the experience has been reading their stories.

To Linda and Jane: Thanks for the inspiration!

To Karen – Linda’s #1 Seester: I love your intro and I SUPER LOVE that you girls have been taking care of each other for years! You are ALSO inspirational and so funny.

Three cheers to three amazing ladies!

20 jolene marie August 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I stood up at my desk and cheered when I read this! Since I work with an eclectic group of weird people no one questioned my outburst :)

21 Jake August 15, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Cyber-meeting Linda was a pivotal moment in my life.
Having gone to fine arts school, I thought that it was part of my past. I have learned more through Journal Revolution (specifically) and Visual Chronicles than I had in the pretentiousness that was my art school.
Getting the “seesterhood”, the sarcasm, the questioning everything has left me less confounded about everything I resented and loved.
Thanks, in a big part, to Linda.
She IS inspiration.

My favorite quote of Linda’s in this article:
“Part of the job is knowing which battles to choose and knowing when to tailor your art to a specific audience. You won’t connect with people if they don’t connect with your art.”
Yes. Yes-

My days became happier ones when I turned my cyber-friendship with Linda into physical reality (yes! i have met the elusive LW in person!) that includes many trips to malls, eating in malls, and even visiting the exact place that River Phoenix died.
She is game to do it all. She is not afraid. That- to me- is what makes her the great artist that she is.

22 Priya August 15, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Linda’s book ‘Journal Revolutions’ was a revelation for me. I picked up my painting brushes that had been gathering dust for more than 15 years. I learnt that its ok to express oneself. To ‘have no fear’. To emotionalize art. To just go for it. I am so much in awe of Linda that I never left her a comment telling her how much her book has encouraged me. And I thought about it so much before leaving this comment here- What if she reads it? She is my Guru and I bow to her.

23 rachel whetzel August 15, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Well, you don’t fool me, Linda!! I know you are as mean as they come!! lol I love you, lady!! So happy that I have met you, and that I can count you as a friend. Your art has and will continue to inspire me to find my own way and my own art. I’m finally learning to let me art show. I’m finally learning to claim myself AS an artist. A lot of the reason for that is YOU, Linda! The Scrapbook Mafia are just prudes.

24 Jackie August 15, 2008 at 2:05 pm

What a great interview about an amazing woman!
I can so relate! I was a very quiet child. I spent my time reading( I work in a bookstore now) and doing lots of artsy stuff. I only excelled in my art and reading classes.
Art is for everyone and I think Linda inspires people to find that inner artist!
Linda, thanks for sharing for special gift with us all!

25 Elaine August 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Linda’s Kinda hot!

Seriously, anyone who can create, inspire and from what I can tell by the interview and the comments, have bravery and integrity as well – she just deserves a great big “we’re not worthy” bow!”

26 Jane Devin August 15, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Elaine, I agree — Linda is kinda hot! ;-) LOL.

Gia, this is it for the profiles, but I do have a closing post coming next, which coincidentally has to do with recent contest winner Jeanne. Her topic of choice was also about passion, so it’s a perfect fit, and a great way to close out this series.

I loved writing these profiles, and maybe we’ll do it again next year!

27 Susan Gilman August 15, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Oh thank you for a beautiful article on a beautiful artiste! (and whoever took the top photo? KUDOS to you, too! GOR-GEE-OUS!) Great profile – depth, layers, laughter….just like Linda’s art. Add me to the fan list!

28 kris August 15, 2008 at 7:31 pm

awe-mazing…i love linda! and karen! and that kindred scrappy-poor-cafeteria-kid-with-the-crazy-imagination-and-crappy-eye-contact in me is over here screaming YES! to putting the scrapbook mafia in it’s place. f*ckers have no idea how to have fun….

linda i wanna be a sister too!!!

29 Mary August 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

so cool! Art is for everyone – no matter whether you prefer to color inside or outside the lines.
Thanks for these articles. You let the people shine through their own words.

30 Karen Dinino August 15, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Ahhh, Jane, you’ve captured Linda beautifully! And as for you being an “adoptee,” the bond that links our true family is not one of blood, but of joy, respect and PASSION in each other’s lives. Your series of profiles has illuminated many bonds, seester.

31 Bea August 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Love the interview! You get a glimpse of Linda and her artistic self. Well Done!

32 Michelle August 15, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Loved hearing about the Seesters in the 1-room studio apartment ;-)

33 linda woods August 17, 2008 at 11:56 am

Thank you so much for reading this and commenting. I’m printing all your comments and TAPING them in my journal.

*Priya, I AM reading this. Thank YOU!

34 Tammy August 17, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Linda -

I agree, I think we should print all the fantastic comments that everybody here posted in response to our stories by the wonderful and talented Jane.

Your passion for art and truth makes me want to get out of the hospital and revisit my love of art in all it’s forms – including decorating some really fattening cakes!

Thank you ALL for your encouraging words.

35 Mike Barer August 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Thank you so much for a great story about Linda, growing up in Walla Walla, it was always a pleasure when our cousins, The Goldbergs came to visit in the summer. Linda and her family have definitely been an inspiration to me.

36 tod goldberg August 17, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Let me state for the record that every time I see the words “scrapbook” and “mafia” together the letters shift around and reform as “fucktards.”

A lovely interview. My only complaint is that I wish there was slightly more about me in it. I hope when you interview Karen that that particular issue is rectified.

37 Jane Devin August 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Oh, please, let me try again.

“Tod Goldberg, respected author, professor, and prolific outer of fucktards nationwide is, to the chagrin of many, the brother of Linda Woods.”

Thanks to Nick Daws class, I hope to sell a screenplay based on that sentence alone. I believe you will be portrayed by Jack Black in the eventual film. The movie rights should get me enough money to buy off the Mafia with archival quality paper, subscriptions to Parade, and Snapple.

38 KellyG August 17, 2008 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for the feature on Linda…it was as fabulous as she is! And, Linda, thanks for introducig us to Jane. Your six profiles are fantastic.
Looking forward to more inspiring words AND people-

39 arlene August 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm

It’s always so great to read about passionate and inspirational women. Especially when they have HUGE talent AND can make one laugh out loud.
Linda is one fantastic artiste! Great interview.

40 Donna L. Faber August 17, 2008 at 8:33 pm

I think “fucktard” is one of the best words I’ve heard in a very long time … good one!

41 John R August 18, 2008 at 10:50 am

Just had a chance to catch up on these 6 amazing profiles. 7, really, as I feel I am exposed even more to YOUR passion through these interviews, Jane. Nice job! So appropriate that you closed the series with the amazing Linda. Truly inspiring women all around. Really made me think about the Passionate Women in my life. I’ve got some great nominations for your next series!

42 Sandy Mohon August 18, 2008 at 3:41 pm

What a great interview and well written article. Thanks for letting us get to know Linda better. I had to laugh at the Scrapbook Mafia. I never knew there would actually be people who got upset about any form of art. That is just so funny to me.

43 Kim August 19, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Jane – thank you for this PERFECTLY written article/interview about Linda!

I swear…first time I met her, exchanged off color jokes, expletives and high-calorie treats…I have to say, I felt the EXACT same “seester-hood” you so beautifully described.

Linda is the real deal. Like it or not, she is as true and raw and real as they come and damn, she is talented, too! Love that woman and am so proud of her for ALL she does!!!

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