Meet former sheep farmer turned artist Linda Mellin whose Lowry-esque paintings of Yorkshire are in high demand

Linda Mellin has an eye for capturing something different and that has led to a growing interest in this artist’s distinctive paintings of life around led to a growing interest in this artist’s distinctive paintings of life around Yorkshire.
Former sheep farmer Linda Mellin now lives in IlkleyFormer sheep farmer Linda Mellin now lives in Ilkley
Former sheep farmer Linda Mellin now lives in Ilkley

Her works are now attracting serious prices and can be seen in over a dozen galleries in tourism hotspots around the north of England and her latest set of three, featuring the Three Peaks, will be launched this weekend.

Born in Rathmell, a farmer’s daughter who enjoyed her sheep and showed her father’s flock of pedigree Texels that were successful at the Royal Show and the Great Yorkshire Linda married a farmer and replicated her earlier triumphs.

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Linda said that while she loved showing her sheep, it was art that was her true passion.

Linda's sons now help her publish and sell her paintingsLinda's sons now help her publish and sell her paintings
Linda's sons now help her publish and sell her paintings

“I have always drawn from as soon as I could hold a pencil or crayon. Art has never stopped. It’s just in me. I’ve now managed to turn it into my living. I’m living the dream and I can go off into ‘Lindaland’ every day.

“My favourite picture I’ve ever done was when I was four years old. It was when man first landed on the moon and included the two astronauts. I won first prize for it at Rathmell Show.”

It was many years later that another win propelled Linda’s name more greatly into the public eye when she entered a landscape artist competition run by the Yorkshire Life magazine in 2017.

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Linda said she had never entered a competition since that Rathmell Show win.

“I’d done three paintings in the style that people know me by today. Very bright colours.

They were of Skipton, Settle and Malham. I sent them off without telling anybody, not even my sons Duncan and Tim. When I received the magazine that showed the shortlist I couldn’t believe that I was on it.

“Two months later I found out I’d won.”

The success coincided with Linda’s works having been taken on by a gallery owner and publisher. Linda said she learned a few lessons along the way about the art world of originals and prints, but that the experience was still worthwhile.

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“The publisher did me a favour at the time because he put a value on my originals that I would never have done.”

Linda regularly takes commissions, which now makes up around 60-70 per cent of her output. Duncan has taken on the role of publisher and Linda said her art has now become a family business.

“We visit the towns and places that I’m going to paint as a family. That’s Duncan and his partner Sophie, who also manages all the website and social media stuff, and Tim, who is a professional photographer and his partner Kate.

“They are my impressions of each place. The paintings incorporate main features of a town such as Richmond’s castle and river; Ripon’s cathedral and racecourse; but they also include where I might like the look of a building that I’ve found interesting or something historical. The Ripon and Richmond paintings are my latest towns.

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“The Richmond Parrot was something I wouldn’t have known about before having taken up my research.

“It came from the Blackpool Illuminations and was so different that it had to go in.

“When we went to Whitby we saw someone pushing a dog around in a pushchair. We asked whether the pushchair pusher would mind us taking a picture so that we had it as reference. That’s in the Whitby painting.

“Last year, during lockdown we undertook research wholly by social media for paintings of Otley and Ilkley.

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“We reached out to people through social media for what should be included and one man came up with so many ideas that I asked if he’d like to be in it. He’s in wearing his Leeds United shirt with his family.

“I put my family in every picture, apart from the latest group of the Three Peaks because it was quite a different set with not so many people. They are usually there with their fictitious dogs.”

Linda had previously undertaken commissions for stained glass windows and had painted watercolours. She terms her style today as a graphic style. Duncan likens her people in pictures to being Lowry-esque, but much brighter.

But Linda said she doesn’t just stick with towns and famous places of the North.

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“I recently painted a set of game birds, using my same style but in different colours to what I would use for the towns. Something more rural and countryside oriented, like the Three Peaks set.

“I spend ages getting my shades bang on right and hour upon hour getting the curves and shapes of flowers and trees so that my paintings flow. I stick with the same palette when painting a group of pictures.”

Linda’s new set of the Three Peaks has been a labour of love.

“Pen-y-Ghent was a dream come true. I’d always wanted to paint Selside for as long as I remember because I love the little barn and the red telephone box. For Whernside I was in two minds over whether I should have a train on Ribblehead Viaduct but decided against it in the end because that’s not the way I see it.

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“I see it with the ice cream van below at the lay-by where everybody goes before heading up the mountain.

“Ingleborough I’ve put the little farm at the foot of the painting. I’ve also included Ingleton Falls. You can’t actually see Ingleborough from the falls but that’s what my paintings are about, they are impressions of the area.”

Linda now lives in Ilkley. She’s no longer on a farm, but instead devotes her day, every day, to her first love of painting. Linda said she is pleasantly obsessed with her work.

“I will just about kill myself if I’m on deadline for a commission working every hour possible. I just love it and can’t get enough of it.”