As soon as I finished Bird of Humanity, I was in love with it. I had the perfect spot in my art studio for her to hang, right above the sliding glass doors to my back deck and an incredible view. Around this time, I was also hosting my very first Open Studios (which is a pretty big deal here in Santa Cruz, over 300 artists participate). I decided that everything would be available for sale except this piece.
At least this is what I thought. Enter Linda into the picture!
I had recently met Linda, and her goddaughter Erin at a book-signing event in Carmel, CA. I went with my sister Susannah, and we just happened to sit across from them at a table before the event began (don’t you just love the way the universe works!) The four of us got along so well we became fast friends, lots of storytelling and laughter that night! At the end of the evening, I asked Linda and Erin to come to my Open Studios in Santa Cruz later in the month.
They drove up later that month for the last weekend of my Open Studios, (Erin – always the most generous showed up with my favorite Gayles baked treats!). I was so happy to see them.
The thing about Linda is that she even though is a paraplegic, she also is one of those people who come into a room with a bright, shiny light all around her. In an instant, she can dazzle you with her smile (I am SO inspired when I meet anyone who is disabled, but also positive and full of joy as I know they have must have a lot of pain and suffering to endure).
So, when she scooted around my studio in her fancy wheelchair and pointed up to the Bird of Humanity and said, “Is that for sale?” my heart skipped a bit, and I said, “actually, that’s not for sale”. Mark, my husband chimed in and said “ha! everything’s for sale!”. Then I remembered the first painting I ever sold and the impact that had on me and my business, and I said “yes! Linda, yes – this painting is meant for you!”. Of course, it was made for her. As a professional artist, there is nothing sweeter than someone loving your art as much as you do.
Linda was an active painter before she had a stroke a few years ago. Even though she stopped painting her passion for art that was bright and beautiful was just as potent as it always was. Her house was full of color with all kinds of paintings and sculptures – you couldn’t help but smile, and the outside is adorable!
I decided that I would drive Bird of Humanity down to Linda's home and hang it for her. It looked perfect with all her colors and beautiful light shining through her living room.
On one of my visits to see Linda and Erin we had a little painting session that brought me so much joy to see Linda playing with paint, brushes, and paper. Erin loved it too!
Sadly Linda has passed away recently but is finally in heaven with her beloved husband where she wanted to be.
Erin, my sweet friend, has inherited the Bird of Humanity, which makes me so happy to know that this painting that meant so much to me is continuing to spread her love to someone else. After Linda passed away, Erin and I took a beautiful walk in Elkhorn Slough, and we were thinking about what Linda’s spirit animal would be. All of a sudden, a butterfly flew right by us, and we knew Linda was right there.
Rest in peace beautiful Linda, and thank you for the lessons.