Linda Hudgins prepares to open her studio for Art Trek Tryon

Published 3:00 am Friday, July 10, 2009

I had a chance recently to preview the studio space of Linda Hudgins who will be participating in the first open studio tour of the area sponsored by the Upstairs Artspace. The upcoming Art Trek Tryon will give art lovers a sneak peek into the work habits of some of the talented local artists. How did you find this studio space? I actually had been looking for a studio space for a couple of years and one rainy day I had a meeting cancelled. We were supposed to do dying for felting over at Cindy Walker&squo;s and we couldn&squo;t do it because it was raining. I drove back by here, saw a &dquo;For Sale&dquo; sign, said &dquo;Oh, I&squo;ll check it out,&dquo; and came by. I saw it had a basement like a house I had before where I worked in the basement. I called the real estate agent and she said, &dquo;I can show it to you now.&dquo; I came to see it and walked into this space here and just loved it. I got somebody to come and look at it for me to make sure because I don&squo;t know anything about houses. They said, &dquo;It&squo;s a good house, go for it.&dquo; I made an offer and the woman took it. In two days I had signed the papers. Wow, that&squo;s fast! I&squo;ve been here three years I realized. It&squo;s just been a really good space for me. You use the downstairs space for work, and upstairs you have art that is displayed and it&squo;s also a guest house for relatives. As a matter of fact, I&squo;ve had an artist who was doing installation for the Upstairs. She was looking for a place to stay because she needed to be here to work on that. I said, &dquo;I have a place!&dquo; It worked out wonderfully. How did you get into this first Art Trek in Tryon? Tone Poem in Praise of Yellow acrylic on canvas by Linda Hudgins I&squo;m an artist here in Tryon who has a studio first of all. Secondly, I&squo;ve shown at the Upstairs so we&squo;re not unfamiliar with each other. They came and looked at my studio and asked me to do it and I said yes. What do you hope it will be like? I had hoped they would do it for a long time and it just seems so right because there are so many artists around. Greenville has a really big one and other people do it. I&squo;m really glad they&squo;re doing it and I think it will be popular. I think people will come here because it&squo;s a good place to visit. There will be the excitement of going to see where these artists live and work. Do you feel a pressure to have your studio look a certain way? Not too much, but I do notice the bugs more. Seeing it through their eyes I&squo;m going to try to get the bugs cleaned out. I actually think my workspace should look like my space. It&squo;s not too bad. My workspace doesn&squo;t look this neat. I&squo;ll try to make room to walk through and get rid of those cords on the floor where I have lighting. I&squo;ll have to pick up and put away a few things. But for the most part it will be as it is when you&squo;re working here. Right. You mentioned working with acrylics, and oils in the summer because of the ventilation. Part of Scroll by Linda Hudgins I&squo;m going to tell you what&squo;s going on here. I&squo;ll leave it unrolled partially. You can see it online. I had a show in January at the Spartanburg Art Museum and after that show I wanted to get away from thinking about how people were responding to my work. That&squo;s another step in between me and the work and I wanted to get rid of that. I decided that if I just painted on something that wasn&squo;t already stretched. I had no idea what was going to happen to it. It was just paint, paint, paint. Then I could do that. Well it worked. I started this and put it on a piece of wood. I had a whole long length of canvas. I just gesso as far down as it would go and I started painting. I would paint about this much. About a foot or two. Then I would roll it up and gesso the bottom and paint again. It was very freeing in that I didn&squo;t have to worry about what was on the other side. I didn&squo;t have to worry about anything except what I was doing right at that moment. Then I told a friend what I was doing. I used to live in China and she said, &dquo;They paint scrolls in China, don&squo;t they?&dquo; I was doing a scroll. Luckily I had not thought about it. I was really very free before&ellip; Before you thought about it? Right. What&squo;s happened since then is I have a friend who has called and said, &dquo;Linda I&squo;ve shown your art to so and so here in Zhongshan.&dquo; It&squo;s the city that China has named after Sun Yat-sen in Guangdong province. She said, &dquo;He&squo;s seen your work and he would like you to bring some work and show in Zhongshan.&dquo; I said, &dquo;Well, guess what? I have some things I can roll to bring.&dquo; If it works out, it seems like such a nice coincidence. You just do what seems right and see what happens. I also had all these other things that I had already started just taping to the wall. I like this idea of it not being something I was thinking about presenting. It was just things I&squo;m playing around with and learning from. I&squo;m learning every time I paint. This scroll is not the same material as that. Good, you&squo;re right. It&squo;s thin and see-through. The paint goes through a little bit. I&squo;m actually going to buy some silk organza and paint on that as well. I just happened to find this in Spartanburg at a good price. A muslin or cotton? It&squo;s either batiste or thin muslin. It is cotton. There&squo;s an art group, a few of us who meet together and somebody said they had windows they&squo;d taken out of their house. Maybe we could do a project with those windows. I was painting on that and thought, &dquo;Windows? Maybe this could go through the window.&dquo; Then I thought that&squo;s too stiff, what if I had something that was see-through and light and could just float through that window. It would be like ideas just running in and out of space. I&squo;m enjoying it so far. How long have you been painting? All my life. Even as a child that was my thing to do. I was a child before parents knew how to direct their children towards what they loved. They did buy me finger paints. I loved those. They did buy me paint by numbers and I did one and I said, &dquo;I know how that was done and I don&squo;t want to do another one.&dquo; I didn&squo;t do another one, but I had paints. Did you go to school for art then?

Yeah, I went to Converse and majored in art. You grew up in this area? Yeah, I grew up south of Spartanburg and I got a scholarship to Converse. I&squo;m glad I did because Professor Cook had gone to the Pennsylvania Academy. He was a good student at Pennsylvania Academy. He taught us all that good academic stuff about color, form, and all that. You can see this is not academic like that, but still it has a lot of knowledge about color. It&squo;s underneath. Even if it&squo;s not there I have the confidence of knowing that I know that stuff. They are inviting paintings. There&squo;s an order to the chaos. The rest of the schooling is that I have a Masters from the Rhode Island School of Design which was another kind of schooling. I went because I taught at the Day School and they sent me there for my Masters degree. That was good. I asked them and they did. It was a good experience. What are your goals with your artwork at this point? June end oil by Linda Hudgins Just to continue to find out what there is in me and out there to come together over that. I&squo;m picking up something from where ever I am. I lived in China for three years. I came home and just started painting things unlike what I had done before. After about three or four years I took a group of friends back to China and it was like everywhere I looked, &dquo;That&squo;s my painting.&dquo; It wasn&squo;t like images it was like this little bit of something. It was a combination of my love of color and despite parts of China being very gray, overall China is very colorful. I was seeing that I had taken some of China in and put it on that canvas not knowing that&squo;s what I was doing. I have some paintings I did in Africa and with my brush strokes they looked African. You know how African art has these broad angular strokes? Well I have some landscapes I did in Africa and they look like that. It&squo;s interesting to find out how these things get filtered through me somehow. These trips to Africa and China, are they something that&squo;s grown out of your work? No. I used to travel with friends. I&squo;ve been in lots of European countries. We used to go with paintings on our backs to paint and spend a month travelling around painting. My husband died in 1986 and I was still at the Day School. I stayed there a few years and I decided this was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life just living here, going to school and coming home. I took a year off and decided that I would apply to the Peace Corps because I wanted to do that when I was young. They sent me to Botswana to teach art. The Peace Corps is normally two years, but I extended for a third year. When I came home I knew I wasn&squo;t ready to come home. I started looking at the information Peace Corps sent me about other opportunities. There was an advertisement about teaching in China. I sent off my application and they called me. It was a position teaching English and they wanted me to teach art. I said, &dquo;Yes.&dquo; I taught art to children who were equivalent to our 4-6th grade. I was speaking English, they were speaking English and we could understand each other. I spent three years in China. How long have you been back in Tryon? I came home in 1999 and I lived in Spartanburg for a little while and knew I didn&squo;t want to settle in Spartanburg. I started looking around and found a little house at Lake Lanier that was similar to this but a lot bigger. I bought that house and lived there for three or four years. I met a man and we decided to buy a house together and it had a room in the basement that was unfinished. It didn&squo;t take me long to outgrown that for a studio. Then I started looking and found this place. I&squo;ve been here three years. I was sort of without a good studio for two years doing smaller things. Are these smaller pieces on the wall from the smaller studio? This is just so much fun. It&squo;s just an acrylic sketch book. I&squo;m a little bit frugal and when I&squo;m working on a painting and I&squo;ve finished with a color I will come and put it on a piece of paper. Then when I&squo;m finished painting in the afternoon I will take my palette knife and come and scrape it on the paper and I&squo;m just watching what happens and building up compositions. This is what I&squo;m calling my sketchbook. I love doing it. It&squo;s beautiful! I&squo;m thinking this is also something I can take to China. When do you go? The time is October. I&squo;m hoping it all works out. Is there anything else on your schedule? I&squo;m glad you asked. I sent four pastel drawings that I did studying this work and they&squo;re going to be at Meredith College in September at the Women&squo;s Caucus for Art. The show is called Echos. It&squo;s supposed to be work in a series. In Search of Intersecting Parallel Lines acrylic on canvas by Linda Hudgins&bsp; For the Art Trek will there be tour guides or maps? Everybody gets a map and they&squo;re on their own to go where they want to, when they want to in that certain period of time. If somebody wants to contact you before or after the show what&squo;s the best way to reach you? By email I guess or by phone 828-894-8394. I have a website and my contact information is also there. People generally don&squo;t come except by appointment here. Those two days you&squo;ll be able to drop by as a special exception. Art Trek Tryon takes place July 25-26, 2009 and features an open studio tour of 40 artists in Polk County and Landrum. A preview party exhibiting works from participating artists will be held at the Upstairs Artspace Friday July 24 from 5-8 p.m.

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