PROGRESS 2020: Veteran artist part of thriving art scene in Northeast Michigan
MIKADO — Linda Drean has been painting for 45 years, and she doesn’t plan to stop.
The award-winning artist focuses on portraits of people and animals, as well as nature scenes. She works primarily in oil painting, but dabbles in drawing with graphite and pencil, too. Thirty-nine of her pieces were on display at Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan in a solo exhibit this fall, which she earned by winning the 2019 Juried Art Exhibition at the museum. At the same time this fall, she was the featured artist at Dragonfly Art Gallery in Harrisville.
“I started out taking tole painting classes,” said Drean, 67.
Tole painting is the folk art of decorative painting on metal and wooden utensils, objects, household items, and furniture, such as tables and chairs.
“But then my husband (Joseph) got sick with (multiple sclerosis), so I stopped to take care of him,” she explained. “And he passed away six years ago, so that’s when I started painting with oils and got more into doing portraits.”
Since then, she has painted an estimated “couple hundred” pieces, she said, including “Horse and Dog,” which won her first place in the 2019 Besser Museum Juried Art Exhibition.
“I like that, because it’s the easiest painting I’ve ever done, and I love the way it came out,” Drean said.
The Mikado resident is a member of both the Northeast Michigan Artists Guild and the East Shore Art Guild out of Harrisville.
She loves the camaraderie of being in the company of other artists.
Drean said a portrait takes her about a week to complete, working up to eight hours a day. Some other paintings she can complete in just a day.
“Usually, I get up in the morning and start painting,” she noted.
“A lot of times, I don’t even get dressed,” she added with a laugh. “That makes it easier.”
Painting in your pajamas is a nice perk of working from home, she said.
She typically starts with a sketch on canvas, but “a lot of times, I just know what I want to paint and I start painting,” Drean said. “There is no sketch or anything.”
She finds painting relaxing and rewarding.
“I’m kind of amazed at myself, what I can do,” she said. “I never thought that I would be as good as I am. Not that I don’t still have a lot to learn. I don’t know. It’s just fun.”
Drean feels like she is transported into a different world when she paints — a world where the clocks stop and the paint just flows onto the canvas.
“I love doing it,” she said. “I feel like I have to paint. It just draws me in. When I finish a painting … when you sign it and you feel like you’re done, it’s an exuberant feeling.”
She encourages others to give painting a try if they’ve been considering it.
“Anybody can paint,” she said. “Some like it, others don’t, but definitely try it.”
Darby Hinkley is Lifestyles editor. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.