We had the good fortune of connecting with Linda Feltner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Linda, how does your business help the community?
My career has brought art and illustration to a broad audience with an array of exhibits in parks, trails, and visitor centers. Local and international visitors are inspired to consider the complexity of life on earth and awaken curiosity and invite questions.
Art can make connections where text cannot. Combining both strengthens our ability to reach a wider audience. The national parks and monuments have thousands of visitors that may gaze in wonder at scenic grandeur or contemplate a motionless pool, where life teems below the water. Introducing visitors to the unseen, or perhaps a new concept, can open the world. To encourage thought about life dependent on an environment is allowing the visitor to make connections for themselves. Educational interpretation promotes an appreciation for the complexity of nature and can foster a desire to protect it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an artist who specializes in both the aesthetics and science of natural history. My work represents the strict standards of accuracy, and through my Fine Arts background, I combine the creativity of artistic design with the realism of nature into what has become my trademark.
As an artist, educator, and interpretive specialist, my career developed by combining a love of art and nature. I maintain a flourishing freelance business that includes creating art and design for outdoor and visitor center exhibits for national, state, and municipal parks, museums, and conservation organizations. Scientific illustration is art that serves science. It demands accuracy in research and technique. If the goal demonstrates behavior, interaction, or lifestyle within its environment, then traditional elements of fine art are beneficial to develop a captivating scene that holds the viewer’s interest.
Teaching is my way of sharing both the mechanics of drawing and painting as well as my fascination with Nature. Portraying the lives of birds, mammals, or insects challenges artists. My national bird drawing workshops include their habitat, lifestyle, and adaptations for survival. I have been an instructor for the University of Washington Scientific Illustration Certification Program and currently teach with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute. My classes include birds, watercolor, gouache, and composition.
My career path began while very young. The greatest impact was that my parents took me to national parks and wild places. I was allowed to explore and form my very own interests, be it rocks, mammals, or aquatic bugs. I studied to be a high-school art teacher. By bringing together traditional art instruction and drawing animals, my artistic growth changed. My art degrees were supplemented with additional study in biology and ornithology. My interest in birds became serious. I became immersed in making connections to an environment that sustained habitats while guiding birding and nature tours worldwide with my husband’s company. I painted birds for gallery sales intermittently over ten years. I took a job as an illustrator at a major zoo. There I learned graphic design on the job and kept learning and growing while perfecting illustration techniques. We moved and I worked as a graphic designer with an international firm that designed zoos. However, they did not wish to include animal graphics, so I became an independent contractor providing educational graphics. The next exciting leap was teaching Wildlife Drawing at the University of Washington Scientific Illustration Certification Program. My teaching skills came into their own. Through a long career, I have grown with every project. I am proud to have a body of artwork displayed to inspire and educate the public.
My creative career has expanded where I had not anticipated, taking new directions several times. However, it has always revolved around art. My aim is to provide a spark – to awaken curiosity and invite questions, to promote an appreciation for the complexity of nature, and to foster a desire to protect it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Sky Islands of southeastern Arizona are a group of mountains that each rise from the surrounding desert. Altitude and isolation create unique habitats in this area of renowned biodiversity of plants and animals. I would guide my best friend to several of these mountains and through the deserts. Starting with the Huachuca Mountains, where I live at 5000’, we would walk in forested canyons with perennial creeks, then down to the San Pedro River, a critical resource to the desert. Other mountains we visit may be larger and higher with geological features of dramatic landforms, hoodoos, and a change in forests as we climb upward. Some deserts are very famous, such as the Sonoran Desert with impressive iconic Saguaro Cactus. The Chihuahuan Desert is more subtle. Each mountain and desert are home to species that are found only in those areas.
Southeastern Arizona is a magnet for scientists, naturalists, and birders. The variety of nature attracts renowned botanists, entomologists, and herpetologists. The night skies are favorable for astronomy with several observatories. Tombstone and Bisbee are towns filled with the history of the Wild West. Prehistoric mammoth sites are fascinating. To relax after a busy day, we might visit a local winery.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, T. Ben Feltner, an advocate for accuracy and authenticity regarding the natural world has been an inspiration, guide and partner in many adventures.
Photo by Trevor Ben Feltner Jr.,
Photo by Joel Floyd,
Photo by Jo Ann Woodley,
Photo by Patricia Savage