Linda Harbert, The School and It’s Environment, oil on canvas, 35.5″ x 47.25″
The journey an artist takes in creating their work has always interested me. From their first decision to create art to the point where they discover their work is uniquely theirs can take a long time. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, theorized it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any one particular activity. This includes painting, and therefore an artist’s journey will naturally meander through many phases. This is what intrigued me most during a recent conversation I had with Mexico artist Linda Harbert.
I first saw Harbert’s painting The School and It’s Environment in the online exhibition produced and curated by Renee Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International. I visit this site often, as it is chock full of super helpful artist’s information, much of it free to the public. The show, entitled HerStory, was on view from June 20 – August 20, 2018. By the way, there is a video on view now, with some of the show’s work, along with the top 8 award-winners’ images and statements at https://manhattanarts.com/
Renee gave me the honor of selecting a Special Awards winner for this show. My criteria was to find a compelling image, one that invites me to enter another world, and be visually surprised by what I find there. The show was of very high quality and therefore gave me many choices. I ended up selecting Harbert’s entry because of its immediate visual appeal. The image feels engaging and original and drew me right into an unexpected space with a sweeping and compelling eye choreography.
Harbert started her journey painting outdoors (in plein air). Madroño 5 is an example of her early work outdoors, where Harbert was interpreting directly from nature.
Madroño 5, oil on canvas 5” x 4”
Once she was able to procure a studio her work shifted to more abstract, but still contained recognizable elements of landscape and nature .
Red Leaves, oil on canvas, 35.5” x 23.5”
Gradually over time Harbert grew more interested in abstraction. She enjoys starting a painting with no preconceived idea but instead allows herself to move freely along with the process. Harbert says abstraction comes more from the gut and from feeling, as compared to her process with the outdoor landscapes. And she thinks it’s way more fun!
Untitled, oil on canvas, 48” x 33.5”
In her statement on her website, Harbert writes “My paintings have developed through time, still surreal in many cases but I am headed more and more to the abstract. I’ve become enchanted with the scraping and rubbing off of paint, the layers and the textures. I love making scratches and marks, wild and free. I’m delighted by any accidents that happen. I start with nothing in mind, just some wild strokes on the canvas. As I continue it grows into a feeling or a story. The painting tells me what to do and gives me the direction I should take. This is a more abstract, unconscious way of painting that I have come to love. It is challenging, exciting and best of all fun.”
Art has been a part of Linda Harbert’s life since she was a child. After graduating with a BFA in Graphic Design, she worked in graphics, display design and then to her own business in commercial sculpting. She made a two year trip to Ouito, Ecuador in her 20’s where she first painted watercolor landscapes and had two shows. Her love for Latin America was established. In 1997 she moved to Oaxaca, Mexico. It is here in the mountains of Oaxaca where she has taken up oil painting and has made it her new professional career.
You can find out more about Linda on her webpage here: https://lindaharbert.artspan.com/