Lindsay Goodwin | Scenes of Splendor

Reclining Figure, oil, 36 x 18
RECLINING FIGURE, oil, 36 x 18
By Gussie Fauntleroy

When Lindsay Goodwin was 5, she thought she discovered secondary colors. She was sitting by herself quietly drawing, as usual, when color from her yellow highlighter marker crossed over into the blue. It made green. Other combinations made purple. And orange. “I was so excited, I ran to my mom and said, ‘Someone needs to call Crayola and let them know!’” she remembers, laughing.

It’s easy to imagine Goodwin’s younger self about to burst with urgency, believing the world had to learn of her invention. Even now, the 25-year-old is the picture of barely contained effervescence, especially when the subject is art. Sitting in her newly purchased, light-filled, loft-style townhouse in Santa Monica, CA, she speaks quickly, laughs often, and infuses her conversation with contagious zest. It’s easy, as well, to imagine her at the easel, highly focused, working rapidly in oils to get as much as possible completed on a piece before the paint dries.

“I work alla prima, which is to say the painting has to go from start-to-finish wet. It’s a much more fluid and cohesive piece if I layer the paint wet, because the brush strokes are all set into each other and the paint naturally blends,” she explains. “As soon as it starts to dry, I don’t have the same desire to do it. I guess I’m a little obsessive. I can go three days before I realize I haven’t even gone outside to check the mail,” she confesses. “It’s just because I love what I do.”

Clearly, others love what she does as well. Within months of Goodwin’s graduation from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2004, her art was selling so well she let go of her “day job” to paint full time. As it happened, the job she had was in Paris, so letting it go meant more time to eagerly explore the city, camera in hand, gathering inspiration and countless photos for the interior and architectural scenes she loves to paint. Goodwin and her twin sister, Jennifer, had been hired by a company that rented apartments to American tourists. The company wanted young Americans to welcome their guests and introduce them to the city. When Lindsay’s art sales took off, she offered her half-time position to Jennifer, giving her sister a full-time job and herself one as well: as an artist. It was a thrilling development for someone who—although declaring in kindergarten she would grow up to be an artist—grew up not quite believing it was possible to make a living that way.

Goodwin was raised outside Los Angeles, CA, in woodsy Topanga Canyon and seaside Malibu. By the time she was 16, she was teaching classical painting to kids in a children’s art program in Malibu. The experience was an amazing art education for Goodwin as well, she says, since the school provided her with free lessons so she could teach their particular approach. Week after week she went over the basics of composition, color, and other fundamentals of painting as new students joined the classes. By the time she was ready for college, these concepts were ingrained in her mind and put into practice in her art.

One professor, in particular, stands out in Goodwin’s memory for his impact on her own approach. In Craig Nelson’s quick-draw class, a model posed for a certain amount of time—generally from a half hour to 11/2 hours—and when the time was over, the model got up and left, and the painting had to be complete. “It trains you to put down one brush stroke where before you might put down eight,” Goodwin points out. “By working quickly you’re forced to be more articulate, more succinct with brush strokes. It leaves things for the eye to fill in, which actually engages the viewer longer because it leaves a certain mystery.”

Even at the Academy of Art, Goodwin at first held onto the idea of a dual major with a fallback career. She chose costume design because of a lifelong love of historical costumes, but soon discovered the program was focused mainly on contemporary fashion, which was not what she had in mind. So her own educational focus narrowed, at last, to fine art. But her stint in the area of costume design did bring some lasting benefits: A queen-sized closet in Goodwin’s house holds her collection of period clothing, from 1500s Anne Boleyn to 1800s Victorian to 1920s- and 940s-era American attire.

This collection began in college and provides visually compelling clothing for many of the models Goodwin paints. And as it turns out, one of those models is the artist herself. reclining figure was painted from a photograph taken of Goodwin when she was working as a model. The Victorian garb, with bustle, corset, and waterfall skirt, was sewn expressly for her to pose in, and she was given photos of herself in the dress. In painting the piece, she was drawn to the unexpected image of a woman in Victorian dress “disregarding propriety” in a quietly informal pose. “I like the idea of a woman in structured, stiff clothing—and the proper expectations of women in that society—juxtaposed with a very relaxed position,” she comments. “It’s an intimate view, a welcomed solitary moment.”


Following graduation and inspired by the fine art careers of instructors like Nelson, whose work is in a number of galleries, Goodwin made her first major painting trip. She rented a car in Boston, MA, headed south, turned west at Savannah, GA, and took in much of the South. On plantations and elsewhere she found the lovely historical architecture and lush interiors that captured her imagination more than those she’d grown up with on the West Coast. It was these paintings that began to gain the attention of collectors—even while the artist moved on and turned her own attention to France.

Goodwin lived in Paris for six months, then settled back in California. She returned to Paris in June of this year with her boyfriend, Christopher Noonan (known by all simply as Noonan), whose mother is French. From that recent two-week stay with Noonan’s family came hundreds more photos of places like the Paris Opera, which the artist visited on a night when the main foyer was dressed up in garlands for a special event. “I’d been to the opera and painted it many times,” she says. “But I’d never painted it with this botanical element.”

A side trip to the castles of the Loire Valley yielded many paintings, including several at the Château de Chenonceau. The servants’ dining room, with its white stone walls, rustic wood tables, and miniature orange-tree topiaries, especially caught her eye. And of course, the many restaurants and cafés in the City of Lights were visually irresistible, especially any time the artist spied a waiter carrying glasses walking by. outdoor café at palais royale is one such work. “Light is really a stimulus for me,” Goodwin reflects. “The luminosity of glassware in restaurants, or silver tea sets, just draws you in. Light bouncing off of something really creates a focal point.”


Other elements of historic architecture and furnishings are equally alluring, and together they create the kind of visually sumptuous space, full of rich color, texture, and detail, into which the artist enjoys projecting her mind as she paints. “Because I’m so in it, I feel as though I’m taking a vacation when I’m painting,” she says.

Viewers are pleased to enter these spaces as well, notes Ella Richardson, owner of Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Gallery in Charleston, SC. “What fascinates me most about Lindsay is her ability to transport the viewer into her settings, enabling us to feel intimately connected with every detail,” Richardson remarks. “Her canvases convey a sense of effortlessness that some artists are unable to achieve in a lifetime.”

For Goodwin, these qualities reflect a concept that has stayed with her since she encountered it some years ago while studying Neoclassicism. It’s something she thinks about often as she works to imbue her paintings with a sense of beauty and peace, and she expresses it this way: “The contemplation of aesthetics can bring one closer to the divine.”

A solo show of Goodwin’s work opens in early November at Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Gallery, Charleston, SC. She is also represented by Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Willow Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; and Crane Collection, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.

Featured in October 2007