Abstract painter Linda Celestian, of Arden, will connect with the force of nature in real-time as she demonstrates her unique pouring technique in the three-day “Art in the Open Philadelphia” exhibition at the Schuylkill Banks in Philly this weekend.


Abstract painter Linda Celestian, of Arden, will connect with the force of nature in real-time as she demonstrates her unique pouring technique in the three-day “Art in the Open Philadelphia” exhibition at the Schuylkill Banks in Philly this weekend.

Maintaining the tradition of “en plein air,” painting in the open, Art in the Open is a juried exhibition that celebrates artists, their inspirations for creating art and their relationships with the urban environment.

Celestian is being supported by an opportunity grant made possible by the Delaware Division of the Arts, in which she received $650 to purchase supplies for the exhibition.

Celestian — who’s inspired by the flow of water, and is used to crafting pieces by pouring multiple layers of thinned down oils on a primed fabric canvas, in which she then allows the paint to drip freely and create its own pattern — will mix things up by painting on Plexiglass for Art in the Open. She might also receive a helping hand with one of her pieces, too.

With the intentions of creating three works in the show, her pieces will then be displayed at the subsequent Independence Seaport Museum exhibition in Philadelphia, from June 14 through Sept. 9.

Q For Art in the Open, you’re considering having an assistant participant collaborate with you on one of your pieces?
A I think it would be something people are interested in trying. And it’s not like I’m really teaching a workshop, since they’d be helping me make the work.

Q If you do a collaboration, will you have complete control of how the piece will be designed, or are you going to try to steer as best as possible towards how you’d want it to look?
A I think that’s basically what the process is: steering it as best as possible. If, by chance, other people do get involved, I’m going to edit, compose and re-work the piece; so I’m still in charge. But the process itself, you’re not really in charge. It’s the process of letting go.

Q Why was it important for you to paint on Plexiglas with acrylics for this exhibition?
A Acrylic dries faster, so you can layer faster and work on more than one piece at a time. In the past a project would take me, sometimes, four months to finish. But with acrylics I can finish a piece in about one day. So I’m going to try to step it up at the show. And with that, it’s more about trusting my process and that I can create works faster and think quicker.

Q What’s the difference from working on a Plexiglas canvas, as opposed to a fabric one?
A The way the paint dries is different, and looks different. Also you have the opportunity to hold it up to a window, or light, to backlight it. Another thing that’s interesting is you can create two different paintings, one on each side. If you flip the Plexiglas over, you can see through to the other side, which actually is another technique called reverse painting.

Q Since your paintings are abstract, how do you determine when a piece is finished?
A To me, it’s all the basic things like composition and movement in the piece. Does it feel like it’s expressing something? So it’s the formal training of line, texture, form and those kinds of things; and I do think that’s important. Some people know that and some people don’t, but there’s a lot that goes behind something that looks easy or abstract. I was thinking to myself that there’s also a lot of decision making while you’re in the process. And that’s what I hope people will see: ‘What’s she going to do next?’ ‘She could do this or that, but she chose to do that.’ So I think it’s about editing, like a designer or writer choosing the right words. You have to know the language that you’re using to compose it.