In the late 1990s, Linda Tillman lived in Los Angeles, freelancing as a textile designer for several companies. She began collecting Mid-Century Modern Furniture, the types of chairs, sofas, and tables that once were seen on popular 1950s sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver. Back then, Linda was able to snap up such pieces for next to nothing at flea markets, not possible these days with prices for these collectibles skyrocketing. Linda, who now lives in North Carolina, has found a way to tap into the nostalgia for the 50s and 60s, with her colorful paintings that she sells on eBay and Etsy.
Linda’s paintings evoke a time and place that people, possibly many Baby Boomers, seem to find irresistible. In the postwar period, the economy was strong, and the dream of owning a home, a car, and a dog, was within reach of many Americans. Mid-Century architecture was ubiquitous in California, particularly in Palm Springs and San Francisco, as well as in many areas on the East Coast. The structures Linda features in her paintings have clean geometric lines, enhancing their simple, classic appeal.
Each home is transformed into a scenic paradise with the addition of a swimming pool, palm trees, patio furniture, and the occasional flamingo. There are no people in these paintings, just the perfect environment awaiting the arrival of the occupants. Several of Linda’s paintings include another mid-century phenomenon, the Airstream trailer, a convenient mode for travel and camping. She presents these mobile homes in vacation settings with mountains and lakes visible in the background.
What would 1950s nostalgia be without automobiles? Elvis would have been comfortable in the beauties she paints, boasting fins, chrome, and vivid paint jobs.
A dog owner herself, Linda manages to include man’s (and woman’s) best friend in most of her paintings. The breeds range from shepherds to Boston terriers and everything in between. Indoor scenes, with a TV set tuned to a favorite 50s show like The Twilight Zone, may find a cat or two curled up on a rug. Several of her paintings reflect the holiday season, with the addition of a wreath or Christmas tree.
Before she begins a painting, Linda does research, looking at actual homes which, she says, are still popular, particularly in California. Working in her home studio, Linda uses gouache paint on canvas to produce works that are, in inches, either 11 by 14, 12 by 12, or 8 by 10. She also photographs each painting to produce prints that she also sells.
While she doesn’t produce custom orders, she will take suggestions to include a specific breed of dog in one of her paintings. She now produces around 250 paintings a year, each taking her about a day to complete.
To see what Linda Tillman is releasing each week, check her Facebook page.