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How They See - Issue #13: Linda Syvertsen about fascination with portraits and painting difficult emotions

Linda Syvertsen is an artist based in Norway. She paints expressive portraits on canvas and acrylic p

How They See

September 26 · Issue #13 · View online
How They See will help you to meet artists from all over the globe and understand their perception of art. Published weekly on Saturday.

Linda Syvertsen is an artist based in Norway. She paints expressive portraits on canvas and acrylic paper with various tools and techniques. She combines acrylic paint with charcoal, brush strokes with knife work or gestures made with her hands. Her process is very intuitive, it lacks perfection and sometimes what Linda is looking for is basically a failure. Finished works are very personal and are carrying a large load of emotions, especially those that we are not comfortable with. Linda is saying that they are reflecting her feelings towards life and relationships, both now and then.
Apart from painting, Linda recently started to make masks and 4 of them have already new owners within music and photography. She has also made album covers for bands from Norway and abroad.
Linda is invited to a group exhibition at Kihle Gallery in her hometown, Horten. It is a recognized and prestigious local gallery owned and run by Horten Art Association. The exhibition is scheduled for November, if you are nearby it is a great opportunity to see her works.
You can find more about Linda Syvertsen on Instagram.

I have found the information, that you have started to paint as a hobby, you have attended the art classes and it began the passion of your life. I had a feeling that more or less I am reading about myself.
I started to paint as a hobby after heart failure and some damages on my memory, concentration and kidneys due to high blood pressure. This incident made me unable to work anymore. 
What is so interesting in portraits? You are mainly painting them.
I’m not sure what it is so fascinating about faces, but I think the reason is that I’m able to paint emotions that I and the viewer can recognize within. It’s a way for me to express emotions and that has become an urge as I used to have anxiety and still I am a sensitive person. It feels like freedom to have this opportunity to express on canvas and “talk” with the character when it’s finished. I do a lot of reflection when portrait is finished.
Linda Syvertsen and her works, photo by j_fjo (
Linda Syvertsen and her works, photo by j_fjo (
People on your portraits are usually in a mediative, thoughtful mood. Sometimes startled or, especially on more liquid paintings, sad. 
Yes, I have noticed myself so to speak. I guess I am a thoughtful person and like to reflect on my life the past and now. Also, I had that near-death experience that had a huge impact on me and a person close to me died a couple of years later. I like being alone in my studio listen to music and paint my grief. I know it sounds sad, but for me, it feels soothing and like a relief. I also like painting those emotions that we’re not always comfortable with, like loneliness, the feeling of rejection and sadness. I welcome all my feelings when I paint. 
Some people are kind of mysterious to me, I like painting when there’s something I don’t understand or when there’s something that bothers me. The finished painting might give me some answers. 
One other thing is that I like experimenting with techniques. I’m always trying out some new techniques that might fascinate me.
I have read in your bio that in your painting process you keep exploring different tools. How did you start such experiments? 
I started out exploring different techniques when making abstract paintings and then took the experiences with me into the faces.
You live in Norway. For me, northern Europe is a synonym of being close to nature. I have been twice in Sweden, in Stockholm, and got immediately captivated by life in the city and outside of it. I guess it could look similar in Norway. How much this influence your art?
I haven’t thought much about that, but sometimes I think I’m painting the fairy tales of my childhood, you know trolls and the mysterious forests. It might have influenced me unconsciously in my paintings.
What is your source of inspiration?
My source of inspiration is my mind, my past, my daily life, mostly my emotions now and then.
To this day, what was the biggest challenge in your journey as a self-taught artist?
The biggest challenge, hm there hasn’t been any big challenges I feel. If I have to pick out something it has to be my first solo exhibition that took place three years ago at Artilleriverkstedet where I have my studio. I have had my studio for a few months and arranged it myself with help from friends and people working there too. I didn’t know anything about it, but kind of jumped excited into something totally new for me.
Did you have any doubts regarding your artistic path? How did you overcome them?
No, there was never any questions. I had found my passion and felt an urge to paint every day.
Linda Syvertsen and her works, photo by j_fjo (
Linda Syvertsen and her works, photo by j_fjo (
Up to this day, what do you consider as your most important artistic achievement?
That I became a member of NFUK a Norwegian union for independent artists and the invite to be represented by the Gallery Athene. I also had a huge solo exhibition there in March.
Can you give some advice to any self-taught artist?
The advice I can give is to work hard and with passion. If you have a goal, also try having fun at the same time.
What is your favourite colour?
My favourite colour is red and all red shades. I also like earthy colours a lot.

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