If you ask contemporary artist Linda Ann Weber about the inspiration for her mixed media work, “Remembering Lake Winnebago” the answer will surprise you. “Ah!” she smiles, “The title came after the work was finished. Looking at it, I was reminded of the way it felt to be at my grandparents’ cottage on Lake Winnebago. The feeling of swimming in the lake, the feeling of happiness and freedom and summer as a child. But the inspiration for the painting itself? There wasn’t one—other than what I was feeling and seeing in the moment working with these beautiful blues and aquas and greens. None of my paintings are meant to look like a specific landscape, but sometimes, they do.”
For Weber, color and pattern have always just flowed. As a little girl, sitting down with pile of markers or crayons, she would take a blank sheet of paper and start making patterns until the whole space was filled.
“The colors and shapes just came. Nothing was planned, it was just intuitive,” she says.
Growing up in Evanston, just blocks from the lake, Weber was encouraged in artistic expression by her mom who painted and drew, and by a sister who also painted. Weber’s natural knack led her into a career in graphic arts. She spent a few years in packaging design before moving to publication design, shaping magazines and books, and leading teams as a creative director for Morton Grove-based Publications International. Then a stint living in North Carolina led her to explore freer forms of artistic expression. In Charlotte, Weber met the owner of a gallery called the Blue Pony that also had a press and specialized in exhibiting monotypes, etchings, woodcuts, and other art made with printmaking techniques.
“I was really drawn to printmaking and started taking classes there, making monotypes and monoprints where I would put a piece through the press several times, adding different layers of drawing, collage, and ink. But I wanted to explore other forms of art and so, I started painting.”
By 2013, Weber was painting full-time creating multiple series of smaller abstract work and larger individual works. Initially, Weber says segueing from graphic design to facing a blank canvas was challenging. “Since the paintings come from within, it can make you feel vulnerable, like you are baring your soul. Also, when I was working as a designer, there was always somebody standing over your shoulder saying, ‘Make this red’ or ‘Use this font.’ Now all of a sudden, it was total freedom which at first felt terrifying but then became very empowering.”
Like her childhood drawings, Weber’s work today is still abstract and intuitive. Working with acrylic paint, pencil, crayon, paper collage and glazing mediums, she builds each composition in layers. Until recently most pieces ranged in size from about 30 x 30 inches to 30 x 40. But the addition of a new, larger studio space at her home in Winnetka means she’ll be adding larger- sized compositions to her body of work.
Some of her most recent works are part of series she calls “Graffiti,” mixed-media pieces that bring bits of type and photographs as collage into the composition—a fun connection to her work in publishing and printmaking. Weber says the work grew out of an artist workshop she attended, where the group did an exercise setting a bunch of tools out, making a quick mark, and then grabbing a different tool and keeping it going. “It was very physical and quick,” recalls Weber, “and I really liked the results, so I modified the exercise and used it myself, just for fun. Initially, I just intended this as a warm-up to other things, and would just throw the results away. But then I started to lay them out and realized, wow, this would work together very well as a body of work.”
The pieces she is working on now will take the “Graffiti” theme into larger works of art, and explore new symbolic references.
Weber has work in three galleries: Artspace 8 in Chicago, Sheldon Fine Art in Naples, Florida, and Gallery 52 in Rye, New York. View more of Weber’s work at her website and on Instagram—lindaannweber.com and for Instagram: laweberartist.