Linda Flynn and the art of Urban Sketching

The next time you’re out and about in Wilmington, the next time you’re listening to live music, or attending a craft show, strolling on the Riverwalk or the beach, or eating at your favorite restaurant, look around and see if you can find a gray-haired woman wearing glasses, maybe dressed in a tie-dye shirt, holding a paintbrush or pencil.

I know it sounds like a long shot, but the truth is one day you’re probably going to run into Linda Flynn. She is everywhere around town, and she is always creating.

Linda Flynn

Over the years, the 66-year-old artist has done it all. She has worked with oils, acrylics, alcohol inks  and watercolors. She has created on canvas, on paper, and most recently on stained glass.

One of her big passions is called urban sketching. That’s where she draws pictures of whatever is surrounding her. It could be a tree at a park, a building downtown, the view from a window. And more and more, especially since moving to Wilmington seven years ago, she has been drawing pictures of the folks whose lives have intersected with her own.

Sketching people was intentional. It’s really practice for Linda. You see, even though she’s been creating art as long as she can remember, she’ll tell you honestly that she is not very good at drawing humans. Faces can be very difficult. And so wherever she goes, she practices on unknowing strangers. That includes when she and her husband go out to listen to live music.

“Going to see live music is always something I always love to do, and sketching while I am there just made sense,” Flynn said.

Born to create

“Painting, drawing, creating something in general is just so satisfying. The whole process of doing art pulls on your inner soul. And then at the end, when you see the final result, it’s like ‘Wow, that’s a part of me.’ It came from somewhere inside of me, and now it’s out in the physical world.”

Linda has always been drawing and painting. She can’t remember a time in her life when there wasn’t a brush or a colored pencil somewhere nearby. Her parents recognized her passion and potential at a very young age. After the school year ended, every summer break, they enrolled her in art classes where she could hone her craft. Eventually, those summer programs led to college and an art degree.

In a perfect world, after all the pomp and circumstance, when the college graduation was over, Linda would have hit the road. For the longest time, she thought her destiny was to play the role of the starving artist. In her dream, she’d travel around the country, maybe even the world, painting pictures of the places she explored. She planned on selling her creations – not for much, just enough to get by and maybe fund the next stop along the way. It would have been a wonderful adventure, but something got in the way… it’s called adulthood.

At some point, Linda realized that she didn’t have to starve. She could use her talents and gifts as a graphic artist, and that people would pay her – pay her well – to take a vision out of their head and help them make it tangible for the rest of the world to enjoy. By the time she graduated college, she already had job offers lined up and a career waiting for her.

Even with a creative career, she was always painting on the side. For the last 10 years or so, she’s been doing something called sublimation printing. That’s where she takes a number of her favorite images she’s created over the years and puts them on functional, usable objects like tiles, cloth, coin bags, handbags – usable art.

“Paintings are hard to sell. I’d go to these art festivals and I would hear ‘I have no more wall space. I like your paintings, but I have no place to put it.’ So, we decided to invest in the whole printing setup. We have a home studio now where my husband does all the printing.”

The studio and all the equipment moved down with Linda when she and her husband retired from their jobs in Syracuse, New York. They wanted to find an artistic community, a town with a lot of galleries, a functioning artist association, and if possible one with a thriving performing arts community and tons of live music.

Wilmington was the perfect place!

The couple now has one of the shops inside Blue Moon Gift Shops located on Racine Drive in Wilmington. You can see and buy many of her creations there. One of her most popular items is a painting Linda created of Wilmington’s downtown Riverwalk. Her husband printed the image on a number of different items; you can see it here on the canvas bag, but the big seller is when the same creation was put on porcelain ornaments- she sells hundreds of those every year.

The Gift

“If I don’t give it to them it’s just going to stay in my sketch book…and I can’t tell you how many sketch books I have on my shelves. It is not really doing me any good.”

When the music is over, when the band is packing up its gear, Linda typically gets up from her table and says hello . After the musicians have shared their talents with the room, Linda pulls out her sketch book and shows off what she has quietly been working on. Some like what she’s created so much they insist on buying it off of her, forcing her to take a $20 bill. Others may offer to trade their own merchandise, like a copy of their latest CD. One group, Joel Lamb and The Brown Dirt Cowboys, fell so much in love with Linda’s drawing that they used it for the cover of an album they released a few years ago and have now commissioned her to create the cover for a second album that will be due out later this year.

Each music drawing, each one of these urban sketches, regardless of who they portray or the genre of the music, somehow depicts more than just people standing on stage. They really capture the mood and emotion that the performers brought to life…and somehow by putting it all on paper, she has made their talents more real and tangible. She has taken a moment and made it last forever. And from an artist, to another artist, there is no greater gift.

“When I am there, listening to live music, and I am sketching these musicians, I really do feel a connection to them. All artists put themselves out there. And I can relate to that,  but a musician it’s even more so. They are standing in front of all these people, putting themselves on a platter for people to either like or dislike. It is a big change, a huge risk that they are taking and I get to capture that for them.”

A Gallery of Linda’s Work

Scroll to Top