When Art Found Me: Linda Stec

I always drew pictures as far back as I can remember. Relatives would give me coloring books and I would find the pages with the least amount of pre-made art and draw in the empty spaces or alter the pre-made pictures into fantastical aberrations. School didn’t help. We did ‘art’ twice a year when the district Art Supervisor visited (Catholic School, no PE either). 

I discovered a store that sold small (2×3”) pads of thin white paper for cheap—my first sketchbooks. My aunt saw these and started taking me to museums. We even saw the Mona Lisa on opening day at the Met—I remember it being 100 degrees (at least) below zero while we waited in line (see photo above). She also gave me art “lessons” at a local museum but these were a bust—adults would not let us eat wild strawberries found on field trips (“You should only eat what you get in a store, Linda.” Wrong!) AND we had to draw what we were told to (“That doesn’t look like that rock, Linda!”). So I kept it all private for years.

Then on to Catholic high school, no art there either, just my mini-sketchbooks. At the end of my first year of college I decided to change my major to art—a brave and naïve decision. The dean said it wasn’t possible, I would need a portfolio and I had never taken an art class. So I said “Wait” and drew a quick portrait of him in a recently returned blue exam book and showed him my mini-sketchbook from my pocket (still used them). He asked to keep the portrait, said “You are in”. And that’s when I felt found, even though I had never really been lost. 

I still use a regular cache of mini-sketchbooks.

Linda Stec has been teaching clay at Waterfall Arts for over a decade. Along with clay, Linda has been a performing puppeteer for 18 years and practices calligraphy, cartooning, and weaving. She is a master gardener and the Director of the Starrett Childrens’ Center (the building just behind our parking lot!)

“When Art Found Me” is a series of human interest pieces from Waterfall Arts in an effort to focus on the people in our circle so that you may get to know us a little bit better. Starting with our staff and expanding the circle outward, we asked folks to respond to the prompt: Tell us a story of when art found you.