I am an abstract expressionist painter which means I express feelings and colors and emotions abstractly, with Acrylic paint. My big series recently has been all about painting music. I listen to different musical artists and show the essence of their music through the paintings.

I’ve allowed myself to paint only music that excites me. I put on my headphones and allow myself to be totally un-interrupted, I put on a blindfold and charcoal my way around the canvas, listening to the music. It’s kind of like a dance. And then about half-way through the song I take off my blindfold and start painting. It is a long afternoon process, I try to get it all at once. If I work a piece on and on I lose it.

What drives you to create?
I cannot stop. Wherever I am if I have down time that’s what I do.

Do you paint people?
I do. I've been taking a figure drawing class off and on for a few years. It’s totally in my heart now, just sneaks in, do a little muscle here, a little leg here a little elbow there.

What is the role of an artist in the world?
To express their own inner-truth. I taught a class of 18 people on Saturday. They were telling their life stories when they were showing their finished piece. It had to do with their soul, every one of them. I didn’t really set it up that way but they felt free to share their deepest stuff with people they had randomly met two hours ago.

What gives you hope?
I guess when people can express themselves in an art class like that, that gives me tremendous hope that there are good people. Most of my students are brand new to Denver. Their hearts are open, they’re in this new place and they have a lot they want to express and so they try to really respect each other’s work and be kind to each other.

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What do you find humbling about art?
Wow. All of it. I mean you’re putting your inner self out there. You’re being authentic, that’s the good part. The other part is there are always more talented people down the corner or around the way. Im glad I'm not an 18 year old trying to start off in this field, it’s a very difficult field to stand out it. When you do it for inner stuff it’s a whole different journey.

As an artist how do you orient yourself in relation to an audience?
My favorite is when I can find somebody that appreciates the music and the art at the same time. When I find that person coming through the gallery we connect in a great way. A lot of the time my frustration with this hip hop series is I have to defend hip hop for a half hour to somebody. I have to say why I even listen to it. And then when they find out what it is it’s still curious that a grandmother, a white grandmother would be painting this.

Does art help you work through the world?
Very very much. To me the radical thing is bringing art to kids in school. They’re cutting back on arts programs. So that has opened up the world to people like me who don’t have the specific art teacher qualifications but I'm okay for an after school program. If they have access to art that feels positive. To me that’s almost social justice.

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What is it about art that’s helpful to a kid?
Expressing and feeling good about it and having someone look at it. Talking about their families in art. They start to understand what some of their cultural ties are.

How do you define success?
To me a successful time painting is when I look at the clock and two hours have gone by and I haven’t even noticed. I like to be in that flow state; that’s when the art is good. You forget to eat you forget to breathe you forget to do anything you just get swept up in it. To me that’s success. The other thing is the light in someone’s eyes when they have created their own art and I've been the teacher. It’s a really cool thing.

Can you speak to the best and the worst things that art has ever done for you?
I just like sitting at first Fridays I usually put out a big piece of foam board with a bunch of markers and invite people to come and make their mark. The reactions are fascinating: Oh no, I have to think about it, I can’t just draw. Whereas a child will come up and say: I need a yellow! So I love to do that I love to have people interact with art.

Is beauty still relevant?
Definitely.
I don’t think I could live without beauty.

What is beauty to you?
It could be anything. You could be in a cement box and I think you would see a flaw, and that flaw in the cement would be what draws all your attention and that would come to be something beautiful. Because it would be a unique part of that cement.

-Linda Hart Frederick