I chatted with Edmonton-based artist Linda McBain Cuyler recently. It took a little bit to get going due to some audio issues, but after her tech support (aka her daughter) sorted it out, we were off to the races.
Linda is a super-creative artist who actually went to the University of Manitoba, graduating with an Interior Design focus. So, it should come as no surprise that she has incorporated a lot of fiber and fabrics into her art through the years.
Read through today’s chat, and I would encourage you to check out Linda’s art at some of the provided links. Each piece brings something unique.
[Featured Artwork by Linda McBain Cuyler]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
Scissors. I even wore scissor earrings today. I didn’t do that on purpose though.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. I really like science fiction books and science fiction things. Someday I’d like to write a science fiction book. I started one but I only finished 25 pages. Art takes too much time.
B. I was born in Montreal but then got whisked away from Montreal and grew up in California. That’s why my husband says I have this California drawl. Then, I moved to Edmonton when I was about seven.
C. We went for one winter without a roof on our house. We had a big, giant tarp on the roof in a huge, upside down V-shape, supported by two large ladders, to make sure the snow fell off. (Editor’s note: They were adding a second floor to their bungalow.)
03. Where did your passion for art start?
I feel like it was something I was always interested in. I liked art when I was young and always wanted to be better at art. I don’t know why. Maybe just the way my brain is wired. I never thought of art as being a career.
My family was big on university so I went into Interior Design. There are a lot of fabric and drapes and things so maybe that influenced (why I ended up in textile art). There was also a lot of perspective drawing and sketching of buildings and interiors.
04. Is art your career or a hobby? Or something else?
That’s an easy question. It’s my career. It’s what I do full time for money. We’ve been pretty well supporting the family on it for quite awhile. We’re not rich though.
05. The art is one thing, but have you cracked the business side of art? Promoting your work, generating client interest?
I think I have to some extent. I’m fairly busy. I try to see what other people are doing and emulate the people that seem to be more successful. I don’t think I’m as good at promoting myself as some people. It seems to me the artists who are good at telling their story and are extroverted are better at selling their art, but I feel I’m more of a quiet person. I try to be more of a bombastic person to promote my art.
I started out doing mostly wholesaling. So, instead of going out to retail shows and craft shows and art walks, I started by selling my work to shops. And, when my kids got older, that’s when I started doing shows. I kind of did it backwards.
06. What is your favorite drink?
I drink a lot of tea, but it has to be black tea. I also drink Chai, the spicy Chai, but I don’t like any kind of herbal teas.
07. What is the main medium you use in your art?
I work with acrylic. I use it in a watercolor technique on fabric and then add machine-stitched thread. It’s called free-motion machine embroidery. People also call it thread painting.
08. It’s probably unfair for me to ask this of an artist, but what is your favorite color?
I don’t have a favorite color. I have favorite color combinations. I can’t forsake one color and say to another, “You’re my favorite color.” I like yellow and blue, and red and purple. I wear a lot of blue colors, so maybe that’s my clothing favorite.
09. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
I would say I’m more of a morning person, but my husband is a night person; so we sometimes stay up too late. I usually try to be as productive as I can during the day. I feel more productive during the day.
10. What household chore do you actually enjoy?
That’s a hard question. *laughs* Do I like any of them? That’s probably why I’m not a good housekeeper. I don’t think I like anything.
I like things that when you’re finished you can see some difference. So I guess I like cleaning around the bathroom sink when it’s all splashy and has soap scum splashed around or washing the windows after it rains.
11. What is your go-to band or artist?
I don’t have any particular really big favorites. What I like is dance music. So, any kind of music you can dance to. My niece asked me this question a few years ago. She was listening to something and I couldn’t stand it — I think it was Neil Young or something — and she asked what I like. I didn’t give her a good answer back then but it made me think about it. Apologies to people who love Neil Young but he doesn’t inspire dancing.
12. What song or artist do you like but rarely admit to liking?
I would admit to anything that I like. I think that I’m fairly shameless in admitting that I like stuff, even if it wouldn’t be cool to like. Something like “Barbie Girl.”
My son likes this weird song by gamers called “Banana Shoes” that is around online and I like it (YouTube link).
13. What inspires your art?
I’m not always good at talking about what inspires my art because I sometimes think I’m just making pictures. I like making art where people connect with the landscape, farm fields where farmers are working the land or gardens where people are gardening.
What’s inside of me when I do my art is about connecting with the beauty of nature and how people connect to the land we live on and nature itself. We’re connected to the land and the environment, and the environment is all connected so if someone is doing something 100 miles away the wind will blow it over to us.
14. What app do you use most often?
Instagram. I like Instagram.
15. What fad do you hope comes back?
I always feel like I’m more of a go-forward person, but I used to like some of the fashions in the 80s where there was lots of fabric. I’m thinking of this one artist who designed all these folded pieces of fabric on the clothing — Issey Miyake — using natural linen fabrics, cottony fabrics; not the more synthetic fabrics of today.
16. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
Just one? *laughs*
I think that the main misconception is that artists are just having lots of fun all the time. They have a lot of things to do that are not a lot of fun, that are not the art part. There’s a lot of stuff that takes up a big percentage of time that are the business parts you have to do.
17. What are you hilariously bad at?
I’m very bad at keeping everything organized. I’m good at taking things out. I’m very bad at putting them away. Everything is a schmozzle. Partly because I don’t have a studio so things get moved out of the way and moved back.
18. What do you hope people get out of your art?
I think that goes back to what’s inspiring my art, where I want to reinforce that connection with nature. I want people to think that nature is beautiful and we have to take care of the world around us. I also want them to have something beautiful that makes them happy and decorates their house. That must be my interior design side.