In this debut inspirational art book, a painter combines thought-provoking quotes with opulent depictions of the beauty of plants and animals.
Although Linden describes herself in a preface as “a painter, not a writer,” she introduces this work with a series of mini-essays that are engagingly personal as they reveal her process. In “On early inspiration,” she recalls a summer camp experience in which counselors “would line all us little folk up in a row, on top of a small hill overlooking the lake” to recite the Sufi poem “Look to This Day.” The inspiration she gained from intoning the “ancient exhortation” exerted a lifelong influence on her art, she says. “My studio” and “Painting process” describe the artist’s work space (“Canvasses…piled high, some on walls, some littering the floor…a profusion of color, enough to brighten the dullest day”) and how she approaches her art, which she defines as a holistic, healing practice through which “Painting becomes meditation.” In other sections, Linden examines the roles of flowers in lore, medicine, and cuisine. It’s a welcome introduction that makes this collection of carefully chosen quotes and meticulous artwork feel vivid and warm. Linden’s paintings depict oversized flowers and some animals, expressively drawn and vibrantly colored. Some owe a debt to Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, which Linden indirectly acknowledges by including an O’Keefe quote about her own artistic philosophy. The author’s work does not, however, seem derivative. From the achingly sensuous “Cattleya Orchids” to the stylized angularity of “Garden of Earthly Delights,” she approaches her floral subjects with keen observation and affection, and the results bear repeated examination. The quotes interspersed among the pictures, at irregular intervals, come from widely varied sources, including Pablo Picasso, Lewis Carroll, and the Bible, and generally promote optimism and courage. All in all, Linden’s so-called “little book” is an affirming and satisfying meditation.
A bright, graceful, close-up view of nature.