Artist of the month conveys sense of whimsy and love with bursts of birds and colorApr 05, 2021 11:30AM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris
In “Bring Forth Fruits,” which will be displayed at City Hall in April, a pregnant woman sits reading a book. Birds perched on the subject’s book and to her right seem to be heralding the new arrival. (Photo courtesy of David Hawkinson/Hawkinson Photography)
By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]
Bursts of birds and color adorn Linda Etherington’s art. It’s a feast of fun and profundity a little difficult to articulate. One could say that her still life isn’t very still. Her fruits laid out with Cézanne-like precision play with colorful pitchers, vases and birds.
“If you go outside and see a robin in your tree, or a blue jay, or whatever, they’re constantly moving. They’re there, and then they’re gone…because they stop just half a breath long enough to be captured,” the recently named artist of the month said. “I feel like birds are that symbol—these little, tiny snitches when we see God’s hand or magical moments.”
Etherington also uses birds in her figures, another favorite subject of hers.
“I do figures because they are really big gifts. Relationships are probably the most important thing we do,” she said.
In “Bring Forth Fruits,” which will be displayed at Holladay City Hall in April, a pregnant woman sits reading a book. The beauty of nature’s bounty is in the forefront with berries, a pear and other fruit. Birds perched on the woman’s book and to her right seem to be heralding the new arrival.
Madonna and child paintings as well as paintings of “ordinary” women with children are also a recurring theme. Her subjects are often surrounded by flowers or have floral designs on their clothing. “That a healthy mother/child relationship is divine, beautiful, blooming, flowering—that it’s growing—that it’s alive. So that’s kind of where that’s coming from,” Etherington said.
It is not just spiritual themes that permeate her paintings.
For instance, in one of Etherington’s paintings, a bird sits on a subject’s head. Or, in “Their Eyes Were Opened,” a bird, standing on one foot, gazes at Eve when she has “discovered” she is naked.
“A lot of times when I’m painting, I start laughing because I’m not that serious of a person,” she said. “I have serious feelings and silly feelings. As a mom of seven, there’s a lot of silly things that have happened.”
Etherington grew up on a farm in Washington where she tended chickens, baled alfalfa hay, fed the sheep, changed water lines, and milked the cow.
“My dad was an engineer by day and farmer in the evenings and on the weekends,” she said. “It was not really a sustaining farm.” The purpose of the farm was to teach the children hard work.
In addition to the beauty of the farm, Etherington’s mother was a primary influence in her development as an artist. An art scholarship recipient from Utah State, Etherington’s mother encouraged her daughter by buying her art supplies and providing her consistent encouragement to create.
Etherington’s work appears in the Springville Museum of Art Permanent Collection; Church Museum of History and Art Permanent Collection; Stanford Hospital: Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Permanent Collection (Stanford, California); State Art Collection, State Building, Utah; BYU Permanent Collection; BYU Special Collections and others.
She is happy to be the Holladay Artist of the Month and regularly visits the exhibits at City Hall.
“I feel they get such a diverse set of artists. I feel they’re very open to different kinds of art and professional levels,” Etherington said.
If you would like to nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the Month, please visit: www.holladayarts.org/suggest-an-artist
If you would like to know more about Linda Etherington and her art, visit: www.lindaetherington.com