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.