Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Creativity ~ Linda Vallejo


Much has been written about the artist’s journey, but not so much about successful artists who are also successful writers - simultaneously. Linda Vallejo is probably extraordinary in this respect, as she has won awards for her sculptures and paintings (1st Place Prize for California Sculpture Slam at the San Luis Obispo Museum, Durfee Artist Completion Award, Comisión Femenil Latinas Making History Award; Brody Arts Fellowship; and a Distinguished Recognition Award from the National Association of Chicano Studies), and also wins grant awards for non-profits that transform the lives of others (PUC Schools, Pacoima Beautiful, Project GRAD Los Angeles; Self Help Graphics, The Los Angeles Classical Ballet, and many others).

Linda’s dedication to her life, in its many forms, and her community are inspiring. From her prolific work as a painter to her significant contributions as a grant writer, she has established a scope of work that extends from operas to prisons, as well as raising over $30 million in grants for great projects that benefit everyone from children to the elderly. Linda also teaches her course A to Z Grantwriting in over 2,400 colleges and universities nationwide on the Internet.


Images provided by Linda Vallejo, the artist.




SHAN: How do you accomplish all that you do as an artist and a writer?

LINDA: I’ve never had a full time job, but I work 80 hours per week. I’m very specific about my schedule. That’s the best advice I can give anybody. I work with my writing and art businesses in the morning. Then I paint in the afternoon and quit about 6 p.m. to cook dinner. I go back to writing until 10 p.m or so. It is a pretty strict schedule. I work pretty much hands-on in writing, art, motherhood, and in life.

I believe that you must do what comes naturally to you. That’s how I’ve built my life. I think it’s important to pick a lifestyle and career that matches your personal skills and abilities. If you choose something that doesn’t come naturally to you, it will become difficult. If you pick what comes naturally, however, it will be easier to dedicate yourself to and more likely that you will be accomplished and successful.

Being an artist is wrought with difficulty. I don’t actually recommend it to everyone. You need to be driven and tough-skinned.  If being an artist isn’t something that you have to do, believe me you’re going to suffer through it. Being an artist is a hard row to hoe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful life, but it’s wrought with challenges, disappointments, the search for true creativity, and hard work.

To be a good writer, you must be a good listener, able to translate peoples’ thoughts onto paper, and be well organized. You also have to care about the people you are writing for and what you’re writing about. I found out very early that I am a natural writer and that I enjoy the intricacies of completing complex proposals and applications.  My abilities in grantwriting have been a wonderful gift and have made it possible for me to take good care of my family and support my art career.

SHAN: What are the challenges in choosing such a varied life?

LINDA: Sticking to it. Not getting sidetracked. Personally, I spend a great deal of time working on my projects and plans.  I’m a starter and a finisher. I don’t go out too much these days except for art or grantwriting business. I stay in communication with my friends and family by phone, email, or FaceBook. You can stay in touch without having to leave the office these days.


SHAN: What are the projects you are most proud of?

LINDA: I’m proud of my 28-year-old son, Robert, a successful lawyer and my 26-year-old son, Paul, who is in medical school. I’m very proud to be there for them and be a part of their lives. Just to get into grad school takes some doing. Oh, and I have always believed in mentors and tutors.

My next favorite thing is that I’ve been married to my husband Ron for 35 years. There’s a lot to commitment, but there’s so much joy in having a family.

The next thing I am proud of is that I’ve been an artist all my life. I first started painting when I was four years old. I love my new series “Make ‘Em All Mexican.”  The work is traveling all over the nation and it’s been great fun, a lot of work, but great fun.  A show of this work is opening at CSU San Bernardino Fullerton Museum this Saturday, September 29th.

Then I’m most proud of my work as a writer with non-profit organizations. I enjoy the work a great deal. I’ve worked with many organizations since 1980 and raised a lot of funds for wonderful
organizations and projects. 

El Vis

"Make 'Em All Mexican" art exhibit

I also teach grantwriting to about 5,000 individuals annually via the Internet.  I believe that by teaching I am making positive change for others, their communities, and individuals and families in need.


"Make 'Em All Mexican" art exhibit 

SHAN: What advice do you have for others?

LINDA: Everything you are going to dedicate yourself to, whether it is art, marriage and children, or business – takes dedication.  Make careful and wise choices for yourself.  Find out what you’re naturally good at, make a strong commitment, and then “abandon” yourself to it. Abandon yourself to the choices you have made. Abandon yourself to your life.

Give it all you’ve got and follow through with plans regardless of your expectations. The outcome is important, but more important is to throw yourself into your life, to experience it all, and to enjoy every minute.  I love that I am completely abandoned to my life as a wife, mother, artist and writer. I have a very full life. I am surrounded by the love of family and friends, by good work, and of course, by art and creativity.

California Oak, 2005

You can see Linda’s art work at and her work in grantwriting at

Linda Vallejo is represented by the George Lawson Gallery in Culver City, CA.

California Horizons, Boney Ridge, 2000

Shän Boggs is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. Her interests include science, technology, the environment, health, education, multimedia, art, and gourmet cooking.

1 comment:

  1. What you say about working rings true for me too. Allow time for each phase of the process. Unlike perhaps others with more traditional jobs, you are not deviating between "life" and "art" or "non-work" or "work" It's ALL the same life. Thanks for posting such a great interview! I LOVE this line, "I’ve never had a full time job, but I work 80 hours per week."