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Portrait of an Artist

With the holiday season signaling the beginning of the annual quest for the perfect gift, art connoisseurs may want to consider asking local artist, Linda Anderson, to paint a portrait for their loved ones. Anderson’s serious interest in art began in 1980 when she began ten years of private studies under such distinguished artists as classical painter D. Jeffrey Mims of Southern Pines, contemporary colorist and portraitist Tom Moore of Fayetteville, and classical realist Margo Torgerson Dodge of Huntsville, Alabama. Anderson also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1990, she began her career as a full-time, professional portrait artist. She enjoys artwork by the old masters such as Rembrandt and Rubens as well as more contemporary artists like Adolphe William Bouguereau, John Singer Sargent, and Paul Cezanne.

Anderson gets inspiration for each of her portraits by spending time getting to know her subjects, which she says helps her to convey different aspects of their personalities. While becoming acquainted with a subject, the artist shoots several photographs of the subject engaged in characteristic activities and behaviors. According to Anderson, “Some people aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, so the biggest challenge is often getting people to act naturally.” The artist prefers to photograph her subjects in natural settings because the lighting outside is superior to that indoors. If she can’t personally interact with a subject, Anderson likes to interview friends and family to try and get a sense of her subject’s personality. The artist particularly enjoyed interviewing those acquainted with Florence Rogers, whose portrait now hangs in the Highsmith-Rainey Memorial Hospital.

Anderson bases her portraits from her photographs, but she says she may sometimes “pop in to have another look at the eyes since the eye sockets tend to create shadows in the photograph.” The eyes are often the most challenging feature, according to the artist, “because if the highlights are off a thirty-seventh of an inch, it can make the whole face look distorted.” Anderson prides herself on the precision of her portraits, and for this reason, her preferred medium is oils, although she sometimes uses pastels as well. A large majority of her clients employ Anderson to paint their children and grandchildren. “When I’m working for the grandparents,” she says, “I’m often using pastels because that was what was popular during their time; women and children were done in pastels then. But when I’m working for the parents, I’m using oils.” Anderson is one of only a few portrait artists to be accepted into The Pastel Society of America; she is also a member of the American Society of Portrait Artists and the Society of Classical Realism.

Due to Anderson’s careful attention to detail, portraits generally take around two months to complete. During her training, Anderson learned a process by which “you pick a mid-way point between your canvas and your subject. You stand in that spot, look at your subject, move toward the canvas, and make your first mark. Then you move back to your spot, and that’s the way you work — one mark at a time.” Anderson pays close attention to every detail of her work from the subject’s face to his or her hands and feet, which she says are also “very much a part of the character.” In fact, the artist says she sometimes recognizes grown adults solely from having painted their childhood portraits. “You spend that much time looking at someone,” she says, “and you can recognize them years later. The bone structure doesn’t change.” The portraits’ backgrounds, which are typically full-color and thoroughly detailed, also reflect the artist’s affinity for meticulous detail. Anderson also sometimes paints color interpretations of black and white photographs. “You always take your cue from something,” she says. “You might start with a brick wall because you know the color of the brick and then go from there.”

Clients have a variety of options when choosing the sizes and formats for their portraits; the price range reflects the level of detail of the pose, which may be head and shoulders, three-quarters, or full body.

Learn more about Linda Anderson’s portraiture at www.portraiteasel.com. To schedule an appointment, call her at 484-1308.