Artist Spotlight: Linda Alexander

/ Royal Institute of Oil Painters

Alexander-Linda-Copper Pot and Greengages.jpg
Alexander-Linda-Copper Pot and Greengages.jpg

This year’s Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition is now available to view online, and opens in the gallery Thursday 24 November and is on until Saturday 10 December.

The exhibition showcases the work of many of the UK’s established oil painters, alongside new and emerging talent, showcasing oil painting as a fundamental medium within the broader art world. 

We spoke to Linda Alexander, an established member of the ROI, about her paintings, processes and love of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition. We hope you enjoy learning more about her work and are able to visit us at the gallery to appreciate her impressive talent in person.

Q&A with Linda:

  • Your paintings capture a sense of stillness and serenity within our busy lives, allowing viewers to slow down and take in the beauty of the natural world - are you able to comment on this further and describe why you are drawn to still life painting and botanicals?

I think you describe it perfectly. My paintings reflect my personality. I have always been a daydreamer, distracted by the beauty in small things, the curves on a silver jug, textures, flowers, reflections, shadows etc. I can get lost in the contemplation of them. Painting these subjects is irresistible to me. I want the viewer to see what I have noticed and enjoy them too. As you say, in our busy world it is so easy to miss the beauty in small things.

As for botanicals, in my early career I painted large flower compositions, attracted to the way that sunlight illuminated their fascinating structures. It was probably this interest in light and natural structures that initially led me to becoming an architect. But as my work has developed I started to enjoy the quieter, smaller still life compositions but still with the same eye for light and shape.

Yellow Rose, Linda Alexander ROI, 27 x 27 cm (42 x 42 cm framed), £1,795.
  • What are your favourite materials to work with and who are your biggest artistic inspirations?

I only work in oil paint, using the best quality paints that I can afford. I love their slow drying qualities which allow me to manipulate the paint for the whole day. It also dries to nearly the same colour and tone as when wet which is essential for my delicate work.

I paint on very fine primed Italian linen which I stretch myself. I have tried to paint on numerous surfaces over the years but this is perfect for me, it is soft with some ‘give’ which is lovely to work on. I use refined poppyseed oil and Da Vinci black sable flat brushes.

I am hugely inspired by the impressionists especially Sorolla. Also Vermeer and more recently Barbara Richardson, and contemporary artists such as Gianluca Corona, Dana Zaltzman and Julian Merrow Smith.

  • Sunlight is a vital element within your work but can be incredibly unpredictable and constantly moving so how do you go about capturing this? Do you always work from life and do you have ways to artificially recreate sunlight?

This has always been a tricky one for me. Whilst I absolutely love painting from life, I can only do this when I decide that the light will be from an even flat north light. But I rarely do this. Sunlight gives a beautiful radiance and joyful energy to a painting and as I said before, it fascinates me. Natural sunlight on a cloudless day is extraordinary! The shadows produced pull in colour and light from everything around them, the colours sing and beautiful areas of reflected light appear in unexpected places.

These moments are so fleeting and so I capture them by camera with no choice but to work from reference photos as I have tried reproducing sunlight artificially with no success.

Copper Pot and Greengages, Linda Alexander ROI, 25 x 33 cm (40 x 48 cm framed) £1,950.
  • What is your artistic process when you create a painting and how do you manage to capture colours, textures and shapes so accurately?

 I spend quite a long time drawing the subject out onto the white ground. Then using slightly thinned oil paints, I paint everything - highlights, darks and mid tones, all in one layer. I will then paint subsequent layers, usually two to four, balancing and adjusting the various tonal elements against one another. It’s not a traditional way of oil painting but it works for me!

As for capturing colours, textures and shapes accurately, there is no secret to it, it just takes very careful observation and skills in colour mixing and application developed over many years.

  • Are there any stories behind any of the ceramics, jugs or bowls that feature in the paintings you will be displaying within the ROI exhibition?

I am forever foraging in bric a brac markets and antique shops when I go away. I have a very patient husband! I bought each item in the four paintings I'm showcasing in this year's exhibition this way. The blue/green ceramic bowl (pictured below) was an expensive purchase from an antique shop in South Africa. I had to have it because of the gorgeous deep and complex glaze. The other items have qualities I always search for as I often seek a reflective copper, silver or brass surface. Ceramic glazes work well too. It is such a joy to paint the reflections of the rest of the still life and shadows in these surfaces. Sometimes the reflections are so subtle that I wonder if people notice them. There’s a lovely one of the pear in the ceramic bowl.

The objects may be transparent, like the faceted glass vase with the yellow rose, creating wonderful distortions (pictured above). Or they can have a lovely surface texture like the little pot with the pear which has a rough stoneware surface below and a shiny glaze above. The fruits I choose often have great surface textures too, like the little greengages and pears.

The relationship between the still life subjects is also important to me. The colours and shapes have to be harmonious. Often in my paintings the curves of a jug and handle are reflected in the curves of the fruit and the negative spaces between. I spend a lot of time considering these relationships.

Pear and Ceramic Bowl, Linda Alexander ROI, 24 x 29 cm (39 x 44 cm framed), £1,950.
  • What is your favourite thing about the ROI annual exhibition and is there anyone’s work in particular that you are looking forward to seeing within this years’ exhibition?

This is by far my favourite time of the year as I love everything about the exhibition! The ROI is made up of the friendliest group of artists you could ever hope to meet and there is wonderful camaraderie. From the huge honour of being on the selection panel and seeing the amazing artistic talent, to the hanging of the show, it’s hard work but the build up is exciting and enormous fun! But my favourite part has to be the Private View when I can stand back and look with pride at the show I’ve helped put together. Here I also get to meet the non-members who have successfully had their work hung. They are often, understandably, really excited and keen to talk about their work. I love those conversations.

I am particularly looking forward this year to seeing the work of other still life artists like Lucy McKie, Sarah Spackman, Lotta Teale and Tim Gustard.


We hope this was an exciting insight into Linda’s creative processes and inspirations. Make sure you take a look at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition online now!

View the ROI 2022 Online

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