Blue Flower

Linda Killion Smith - Local Artist

For over two decades I’ve worked part-time as a professional artist, painting the life and scenery of Southern Oregon. In early 2003, I felt I’d reached a plateau in my work, and needed a way to get to the next level. My dream was to paint our rivers in a readily recognizable way, and to have the time to study the water movement to bring honesty and drama to the work.

You know that artists often have to “suffer” for their craft, hence the term “starving artist”. Since we still had a daughter in college, starving wasn’t an option. In order to realize my dream of time to study our rivers, I needed a way to replace my previous part-time non-profit jobs with an income source allowing me time to concentrate on the creative process.

During the Renaissance, the great European families became patrons of the arts, financially supporting artists, making the creation of our greatest and most enduring works of art possible. I thought “Wow! Where in Southern Oregon am I going to find a Medici family?”

The answer was, maybe there were several “small Medici’s”; Individuals and businesses that would be willing to support my study, in return for a finished painting. Since Grants Pass had become more and more focused on the River as a centerpiece of our community identity, the time for a project seemed right.

I needed an idea that people would see as a benefit, and a way to promote this idea.
My idea was called the “Patron Participation Project”, and its elements included:

- The Patron could choose a favorite river, location, season, even time of day, and would be invited to view progress at any time. Personalization of their vision would be a key element.

- A community education piece would be included. Maybe that’s what this is.

- A contract was created, offering several payment options.

- The multiple finished pieces would have a community debut in a local gallery show.

- Since artists almost always retain full reproduction rights, I took the unusual step of including these rights to the Patron. To me it was about the process, rather than the finished product. With these rights, the Patron would be free to use it for promotional purposes, or just be assured I would not reproduce it.

I began promoting the project early in the spring of 2003. This consisted of lots of telephone work trying for appointments, arranging appointments, and talking, talking, and more talking.

By early summer, I had enough contracts to make the project a reality, and began the hard work. I did on-site work and studio work throughout the fall and winter of 2003, and the show became a reality in February of 2004.

For 2004 and 2005, I’ve changed some elements of the project. Most notably, the exposure created by the 2003 project has made promotion of the 2004 / 2005 project difficult. This is a good thing, since it means commissions and sales have kept me busy.