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Linda Taft

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Linda K. Taft
Missoula, MT
(406) 781-5451

Having grown up in a small northern farming community of Dutton Montana, my life was very predictable. I attended school and church; worked on the farm; went swimming in the summer; played with the dog; and later worked at the local cafe.

My passion for art started around the age of seven when I received my first oil “paint by numbers” kit. I loved it, and received several more over the next couple of years. Around age ten, I was inspired to complete my own painting. I taped a lined piece of paper to the back of one of my new “paint by numbers” boards and painted a cliff with some trees. From there I began experimenting with different techniques and mediums, having fun and all the while learning. I still have some of the artwork I created during this time.

In the fall of 1980, I enrolled at the U of M in Missoula, majoring in computer science. While there, I opted to take an art course. This was my first exposure to “life drawing”. Having been raised in a conservative household, it was jaw-dropping to say the least. However, it pushed me to think in three-dimensional form. This was pivotal for my future artwork. It helped me become comfortable in my own skin and more confident in who I was, what I though, and what I wanted my artwork to eventually represent.

I soon realized that computer science was not for me, so I left U of M and moved back to Dutton where I began raising a family. I also began a freelance art career, opening an art studio in Dutton. In addition, I entered local art competitions and taught an adult art education class in the evenings.

In my early 20s, I mainly pursued oil paint as my medium and I received my first juried nomination at the MT State Fair. I spoke with the juror, and he thought that with my loose style and heavy strokes, oils really were not working for me. He suggested that I would have more success with watercolor. The switch was difficult and my first several watercolor attempts were a disaster. Most of my paintings were flat and the washes muddy.

My first real breakthrough came when I was teaching an adult art education class. I was demonstrating a splatter and spray technique which I had developed. One of my students was struggling with her very tight work, and thought that she could not produce the effects that I had because she did not have the same quality of watercolor paper. I took her paper, flipped it over and started splattering paint and using a variety of large watercolor brush strokes. I continued demonstrating, using a very loose technique and began carving out the subject. With ending, I told her I would bring the piece back to our next class after some adjustments. Back at my studio, I began studying my unfinished artwork. I stood back, viewed if from a distance, and contemplated what I wanted the viewer to feel. I wanted them to sense the warmth of the late afternoon sun and its intimate space. Not only was I beginning to better understand the process of carving out three-dimensions in water medium, but I was learning how to create art. The title of the work is A Play of Light, and it was my first award-winning piece, winner of watercolor division at the 1991 MT State Fair. It also received an Honorable Mention at the 2001 Montana Interpretations Show. If you take this painting out of the frame you will see on the back my student’s unfinished work.

In the summer of 2000, I enrolled at the University of Great Falls, and in the spring of 2005 graduate with a bachelor of Art/Fine Arts Concentration degree.

As a person and artist I have grown leaps and bounds since my early days. I am very thankful for all the people who believed in me along the way and would not let me quit. Honestly, I would not be the artist I am today if it were not for their words of encouragement and generous support.

Today I reside in Missoula Montana and work mostly out of my apartment. I devote as much time as possible to my craft. Presently I have over 100 works/ideas jotted down in a notebook to complete, six watercolor sheets drawn out and in progress. I have a body of work started entitled Montana’s Higher Education System which will include 10-12 works, five of which are completed. Since 2011 I have completed over 100 quality works.

My awards have included:

2008 winning painting at The National Arts Program, Nicolysen Museum; 2005 Branson/Stevenson Award at The University of Great Falls; 2001 Honorable Mention at the Montana Interpretations Show at Lost Ghost Gallery; 1991 and 1992 Watercolor Division Winning Painting at Montana State Fair; 1990 Third Place Award at MGGA Wheat/Art.

Juried selections include 1986–2016 Montana State Fair; 2014 Icons of the West Juried Show; 2002-2005 University of Great Falls; 2001 Montana Interpretations; 1986, 1990 Art in the Park; 1991 Montana Watercolor Society and 1990 MGGA Wheat/Art Juried Show.