While trying to find some winter landscapes for my holiday theme, I Googled a favorite artist whose work can be found on greeting cards and calendars at this time of year...
Linda Nelson Stocks
Linda Nelson Stocks is internationally known to lovers of Americana art. Inspired by Grandma Moses, Linda has always painted what she knows and loves. Her art is a window to a childhood spent growing up on an Illinois farm. Her own Grandma Belle was a source of endless inspiration with tales of "the good old days" of petticoats, buggy ridges and family gatherings which encouraged a world of imagination which Linda has captured in her uniquely warm and colorful art. Linda Nelson Stocks art is available on a multitude of products which include wall calendars, cards, journals, needlecraft, ceramics, limited edition prints and an array of other fine products.
I first came upon Ms. Stocks' work when I was shopping for holiday greeting cards in the late 80s. At the time I was eager to limit my cards to themes that would be neutral for my friends and acquaintances to enjoy, as I knew that not everyone observed Christmas as a holiday. I always got winter landscape themes and a benign "Happy Holidays" greeting within. There was one time when I was into Southwest American art, having traveled to New Mexico and Arizona, and my cards reflected themes of red pepper wreaths, cactus plants, Native Americans and adobe villages covered with snow. My friends always appreciated my cards and I took pride in choosing those I felt represented me, my tastes and interests. I still do to this day.
I was at Carson Pirie Scott and I saw a box of cards with a beautiful winter scene at night. People skated on a frozen pond under a full moon. A church was holding midnight services. Homes were decorated with greenery, ribbons and Christmas trees. And the centerpiece of the scene was a beautiful tall Christmas tree decked out with ornaments galore and candles in place of lights. It was the most beautiful card I had seen and, reading the information on the box, I found that the artist and the company were local. I was hooked and, though the cards were a bit pricey and went against my politically correct standards of the time, I bought them. They were a success and I bought more cards because I wanted to save these for the people closest to me. I also wanted them to last a long time. Small companies were rarely seen in large department stores, swallowed by the American Greetings and the Hallmarks, and I didn't know if I would see the cards or the artist again.
But the company, Lang Graphics of Wisconsin, and the artist, Linda Nelson Stocks were on their way; I need not have worried about seeing more of them. I also found that Ms. Stocks was very local indeed - I had a friend who was related to her. I found that out when I gave him and his girlfriend one of the cards the following Christmas and he told me, in a pleased way, that he always got a calendar from her every year.
Apparently she lived in Wisconsin for many years. Then the year following my friend's revelation, he told me that when he got her calendar he got the news that she was moving to Massachusetts to paint New England scenes. I was a bit sad - I would not have minded meeting her at a future time - but how much Americana could you get? New England is the ancestral home of American folk art, after all.
Linda Nelson Stocks also paints year-round scenes, including oceanside scenes given her new home. But I have always felt her winter scenes were the best. The autumn and Halloween scenes were a close second.
And so last night as I thought of winter scenes, I thought of her. I had been to the mall the day before and found the calendar kiosks. And, of course, prominently displayed, was the art of Linda Nelson Stocks. Though I couldn't find any more biographical info about her, not even a Wikipedia link from Google, I'm assuming she's still alive, well and painting. I say bless you lady.
That first card, though, will forever remain in my heart. It represents peace, joy and innocence - what the holidays should be about. :)