Six Foot Gallery is delighted to present its annual spring show, Awakenings, featuring twenty-seven artists working in a diverse range of mediums and disciplines including sculpture, soundscapes, textiles, collage, video, woodturning, jewellery, photography, screenprinting, performance, and painting.

Linda Jones is a photographer turned artist living in East Lothian. During lockdown, she rediscovered an interest in drawing and messing about with paint. Linda is fascinated by plants and their structures and likes to explore these using lines. Colour is also a big interest and forms a large part of her experiments. Linda also noticed a bit of a thread of ‘receiving’ that seems to run through her work – objects that have been given to her by another person have an extra value to them that they wouldn’t have if they were bought, especially if those objects are plant-based.

Hi Linda! How did your artistic journey start?
When I was a kid. Isn’t that when everyone starts? I think I’ve always liked making things. I was a studio photographer for a while but it was unfulfilling. During lockdown, I gave up the photography studio and began drawing and painting again. Initially, it was as part of an online pattern design course I was doing but then I realised that I wanted to explore what I wanted to do rather than what a client may like.

How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
It wasn’t a conscious thing. I just became aware of it when thinking about the most recent work I’ve done. Sometimes, before I fall asleep, I lay there thinking about the piece I’m working on. I think about what I’ve done and where I could take it. It may have been during one of these thinking moments that I realised there is a thread of ‘giving and receiving’ running through the last few pieces.  Things I have been given or someone else has been given. Objects that have been given to you by someone else have an extra value to them that isn’t there if you buy the thing. Especially if it’s plant-related, for me anyway. If someone gives you a plant or some flowers, it’s such a valuable gift. Flowers are fleetingly beautiful but a plant can live with you for years and be a constant companion. 

Another theme I’ve noticed in my work is line drawing. I do a lot of it. I use lines to explore shapes and forms of whatever I’m drawing, usually plants. Drawing something helps you get to know it.

Can you walk us through your creative process?
There isn’t really a set process. It’s hard putting things like this into words. Sometimes I’ll see something that looks interesting and I’ll want to draw it. Sometimes I’ll get an idea from a conversation I’ve had. Often when I ring my mum for a chat, I’ll come away with ideas. She is interested in what I’m working on so I’ll talk about it and she’ll help me see it from a slightly different perspective. Then I’ll start drawing. I do lots of different drawing exercises using different tools and mediums. Some of them are quite quick, say three minutes or less, some are more involved and build on top of previous drawings.

What challenges did you experience during the creation of your work and how did you overcome them?
With ‘Yellow is a Big Part of Daffodils’, I drew the flowers on paper many times, doing lots of drawing exercises. I knew I wanted to produce a piece that was all about colour as well as incorporating line drawing. I looked at the daffodils and wanted to transfer their colour onto the board. I mixed a couple of shades of yellow that I saw in the flowers and then pushed the daffodils into the paint and printed them onto the background. I had to do this many times to fill the board and the daffodil in use would become soggy so I’d have to start using another one. Some little bits of petal remain embedded in the final piece. 

With ‘Chitted’, I’d drawn the sprouting potatoes a lot but again wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the final piece. After chatting to my mum, I decided again to use the potatoes themselves to print colour. I mixed a murky green (that I had seen on the top of the potatoes) and a brighter sea green that has been popping up in my work lately so, I decided  to go with it. I cut each potato in half and pushed one half of each potato into the paint before printing onto the board. One of the potatoes was partially rotten when I sliced it. My initial reaction was to throw it in the bin but then I decided to use it and see what happens. I loaded it with paint and pushed it onto the surface, it was juicy and disintegrating, causing drips to trickle down. The drips tell a story about that potato. The remaining potato halves were planted out into grow bags where they continue to grow enthusiastically.

How has your practice changed over time?
During lockdown, I was doing more painting than drawing I think. Now, I do a lot more drawing than painting.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
Often talking to my mum helps. She’ll say things I haven’t thought of and this gets new thought processes going in my head. Sometimes I’ll just stop what I’m working on and go and start something else. I can always come back to it at a later time and hopefully see it with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. 

Can you share a glimpse of your next project?
I’ve been doing a lot of drawing exercises around tomato plants. I’ve grown them from seed and started drawing them when they were quite small but they are getting big now. As before, I want to take this into colour but am not sure how yet.

What advice would you give to artists just starting out?
I don’t know that I’m the best person for giving advice, as I’m still learning but I’d definitely say, just keep going. Keep doing something, anything creative. Each time you do a thing, you learn something. You learn a little bit more about who you are as an artist, what you want (or don’t want) to do. It doesn’t matter if the thing you have produced is crap or not, it still has value. It’s still part of your journey as an artist. And you will produce crap, that’s normal. Don’t be disheartened by it. Just keep going.

You can find out more about Linda Jones and their work on their Instagram @lindagracejonesartist Awakenings runs at Six Foot Gallery until Friday 24th May.

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