The Wilno Hills, an hour north of Bancroft in the Madawaska Valley, is known by some to be God’s country. It is here that you will find the artist Linda Sorensen.
Linda was born in London, England. She moved to Canada with her mother and settled in Burlington, Ontario where, as she says, she had the good fortune of Robert Bateman as her high school art teacher. It was the early 70`s and the school was the newly built Lord Elgin High - since renamed after this world renowned Canadian wildlife artist. Under Bateman she studied Pottery and Sculpture, Drawing and Painting and Art History. She also took a course in Textile and Printmaking with Birgit Freybe, now Robert`s wife. She was truly inspired!
Linda moved to the Madawaska Valley and recalls heading out “with a pack on my back and not two pennies in my pocket.” She became part of a back-to-the-land movement and lived off the grid, ``without telephone, running water, hydro and neighbours!” For the next 25 years, she devoted herself to this challenging career as mother, raising a family living a life closer to nature. This lifestyle was not without its demands, and it ignited in her a stubborn strength and proved to be a creative force. And the artist in her waited.
In time, this artist emerged and Linda began painting a body of work she calls Algonquin Wilderness, a series of images devoted to her many camping and canoe trips through the vast of this beautiful park. In 2006, Linda teamed up with Kathy Haycock and Joyce Burkholder and the three began immersing themselves in the backcountry of Algonquin, sharing their connection and love for this area by painting it en plein air (French for ‘in the open air’). Being in nature while painting allows the artist to observe colours, explore light, textures and forms. “These paintings have a more in the moment spontaneous feel to them” says Linda.
The profound connection felt by Linda to Algonquin is certainly reflected in her work. She travels to remote wilderness locations in the park in every season capturing the beauty of the landscape that many people just do not get out to see. Linda takes her sketches and photos home with her and works in studio with water mixable oils transferring her images into large acrylic studio paintings.
Being immersed in nature is a gift and healing on a very basic visceral level. Linda, Kathy and Joyce have compiled a series of paintings, and recently published a book, Wild Women, Painters of the Wilderness. This book celebrates the Canadian wilderness landscape and the hope is “that it will persuade Canadians to spend time in the wild and to place a greater value on nature…” For Linda, this book is about her respect for nature, her devotion to conservation and preservation of our wild places.
Robert Bateman has remarked that Linda’s paintings are “strong and bold.” He continues; “The clear stamp of original character is always a sign of a true artist and Linda Sorensen has it.”
To see more of Linda’s work, you can visit her website at www.lindasorensen.com and explore more about this book at www.wilwomenartists.ca .