The “junk” you and I might place in recycling, or toss after cleaning out the garage, is a gold mine for Morrison mixed-medium artist Linda Dollahan. One glance at her artwork and it is easy to assume she has been creating her entire life, when the truth is, she is a self-taught artist whose creativity was ignited after an awful skiing accident in 2018.
Born in Texas, yet raised around the country due to her father’s work, Linda was always involved in athletics. She played tennis, softball and basketball during her school years, and remained an active individual into adulthood playing tennis and pickleball. So, it was especially devastating when she blasted her knee in that fateful ski accident, pausing all her activity as she recovered.
Having recently retired, and a “doer” by nature, Linda sought to find an outlet to fill her soul while physically healing. Never having picked up a paint brush before, she began with watercolors. An eager learner, she watched videos, scoured Pinterest, bought books, and soon began dabbling in acrylics. She loved how the medium allowed her to experiment with different textures and applications, leading her to explore vintage metals and beyond. “Things began to evolve into metals, papers, things in junk drawers. Sometimes I’ll go on eBay and buy a ‘lot’ of junk drawer stuff and the inspiration comes later after I get the items,” she explains. Who knew junk drawer items were a wanted commodity?
Inspiration comes from all things nature as particularly evidenced by the wall-sized aspen grove that adorns Linda’s living room wall. Alive with dimension, texture and color, the aspen leaves dance above their notched and scarred pale gray trunks. In this piece, Linda mixed patina (a metal weathering technique) with fabric and acrylics. Her home studio displays various eclectic pieces from roadrunners to snow covered skiers and ornately decorated birdhouses; each a delicious feast for the eyes that leaves you smiling, accomplishing Linda’s creative goal “to bring joy and happiness” to anyone who views her vibrant work.
Since her artistic awakening, Linda views the world through a different lens. She sees beauty where others see detritus. She animatedly told the story behind finding the materials for a favorite rustic bear piece: “I was hiking in Arizona and ran across this old dump site with a ton of rusty cans. I thought, ‘This is going to make a great grizzly bear.’ The color was perfect! So I loaded my backpack and jacket and hiked out. I actually wound up going back because I didn’t think I gathered enough!”
Now that her world revolves around recycled art, family and friends are regularly gifting the most random items: license plates, old cans or pottery, watch parts, rusty screws/bolts, tin cans. Linda also finds treasures at flea markets, thrift stores, etc. The toughest part of her job is enduring the regular cuts, dings and slivers that come along with manipulating metal. She is vigilant about keeping her tetanus shot current, and laughs, “I definitely put my blood, sweat and tears into my work.”
Most of Linda’s work starts on a wooden board which she jigsaws to get the desired shape. Materials are selected, cut, then laid out. Last, she secures it all using special glue and nails. At first glance, Linda’s Grizzly Bear piece is texturally cohesive, inviting, almost playful. Upon closer inspection, the burnt brown “fuzziness” of the magnificent beast is actually hundreds of rusted cans jaggedly snipped to perfection. It really does make you smile.
Sometimes, the most difficult moments in life can enlighten if you choose to see. Linda Dollahan saw opportunity in her challenge as she dove into her artistic journey. To pay it forward and add more smiles to the world, all of the proceeds from her work go to charities such as 4 Paws 4 Life, World Vision, and Charity Water.
To view more of Linda’s work or have a piece commissioned, visit her website: lindadollahanart.com