By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
BLUFFTON — Lynda Hollingsworth spent her career working in holistic health, as a licensed massage therapist, a certified aromatherapist and a reiki master.
But it wasn’t until after she retired that she picked up a pencil and began to draw.
Now the Bluffton woman spends her days creating art. Sometimes her subjects are flowers and dragonflies. Sometimes they’re fairies. They’re always bright and whimsical.
“Since I’m a very quiet and private person, I always thought I would like to do watercolor botanicals or something beautiful like that,” she said. “But that’s not what comes out. That’s not at all what comes out.”
Instead, the self-taught artist likes patterns and bold colors. She describes her style as pop art.
“I’m not a real cultured artist,” Hollingsworth explained. “Some people can do whatever. I have a particular genre that I’m really good at, so I do focus on that.”
Hollingsworth lived in Bluffton years ago and raised her children here. Life took her different places, but she moved back to the village three years ago. She originally returned to the area when her mother became ill.
“Interestingly enough, about a month after I came back to take care of my mother, I had a major health crisis. And that precipitated a very long recovery time where I had to be quiet,” she said. “I wasn’t very active, and that’s when I started drawing.”
Hollingsworth always liked art.
“My sister always called me the ‘artsy-fartsy’ kind of thing,” she said. “I’ve always kind of liked to do little things. I like to decorate, that kind of thing. But I was never focused on that.”
Instead, Hollingsworth earned a psychology degree.
“But the odd thing is that I can see how so many different things I’ve done have kind of culminated in the art because I do focus on healing in the art. I do focus on color and creating an emotion or creating an atmosphere as well as pattern. So it all has come together, kind of like going around the block to get across the street,” she laughed.
The very first thing she tried recreating was a dragonfly pattern.
“It was very elementary. I thought, ‘oh, that’s kind of cute. I bet I could do that’. So I started to draw that and I ended up drawing this particular pattern with these little tiny dragonflies like 80 times. But what I did was, I did a different color combination every single time,” she said.
She noticed the colors evoked emotions in her. The yellows and orange colors were uplifting, and the blues were calming.
Her medium of choice is colored pencil.
“But I use a technique you’re not supposed to basically use in colored pencil, which is a heavy technique,” she said. “So instead of doing layers, I do blocks of heavy color versus a lot of shading.”
Working on heavy vellum bristol paper, Hollingsworth starts with a sketch. Certain symbols, like sunflowers and dragonflies, can often be found in her art.
“I do it in pencil first, because an eraser is my best friend,” she smiled. “Then the coloring is the fun part.”
Designs are outlined in marker. Hollingsworth often uses dots of gold paint to embellish the art and sometimes adds Swarovski crystals.
By using a good quality colored pencil and sealing the piece, she said the the colors stay vibrant for years.
“I enjoy the color, that bright, bright color,” she said. “I do also really like the earthy things and I do some art with nature, but I think everybody in their home should have one area that is bright and colorful, that has some kind of pop of color in it.”
She works under the name L. Ann Hollingsworth.
In January, an exhibit of her work was displayed at the Bluffton Public Library. The Le Chat Noir show was inspired, she said, by the stray and abandoned black and tuxedo cats that live in Bluffton. According to Hollingsworth, this colony consists of 15 cats and is one of several colonies in the area.
“It just so happens that the cats that I work with are mainly black and tuxedo cats. As a result, those cats have inspired the artwork,” she said.
She tries to capture the essence and unique personality of each feline through a combination of art nouveau and pop styles.
The exhibit was meant to raise awareness and interest in her organization called Feral to Fabulous. It’s not an official rescue group or nonprofit, she said, just a small group of people helping the stray cats near their homes.
Hollingsworth works with other agencies to find the cats and kittens new homes, and to get them spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
“I just see a great need and have compassion and desire to help,” she said. “I never intended to be the crazy cat lady, but there’s so much suffering out here, I could not in good conscience not do something.”
Hollingsworth was also chosen to have nine of her pieces on permanent display at the Dayton Children’s Hospital. The artwork follows the “Things that Fly” theme.
She created three sets of three pieces, each of which depict a dragonfly, a bee and a butterfly. The pieces are embellished with hundreds of crystals.
“When you walk by, it’s just these little fairy types of light,” she said.
Hollingsworth believes her art is just one more way she’s helping others.
“My life has never truly been my own,” she said. “It has always been, how can whatever I’m doing translate into something that benefits other people, either through healing or through upliftment and encouragement. It’s just who I’ve always been.”