I am bringing back the popular IW Inspiring Women series for the winter. The series carries the logo of the enigmatic orchids which come in a thousand of varieties, each bringing joy with her own beauty. Much like the women in this world.
In this series I bring to you the stories of women who inspire others with their character, actions and the love for what they do. As daughters, mothers, grandmothers and wives, they all make a difference in their own way.
All of them juggle different responsibilities; to themselves, to the families and to the society at large.
Their value is not listed in dollars they bring to the economy, but in their contribution to bettering the lives of other people.
Meet artist turned hunter Linda Kropf Phillips
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- I first met artist Linda Kropf Phillips, owner of Natures Serenity, at a little known bazaar in the historic village of Fallasburg two years ago.
She was manning the booth with her brother Jerry Kropf. Most people in the area know the name Kropf, as the well- established owners of the Kropf apple orchards.
“Are you related to the Kropfs?” was one of my questions during a recent interview with Linda.
“Which ones?” she asked.
“The apple farmers?”
“My father was the carpenter in the family,” Linda said.
It was her father Bob Kropf ,who not only inspired Linda, but who also taught her perfection in glass etching of gun cabinets and everything else in business, like reasonable pricing.
“My dad challenged me,” she said. “I worked in his wood shop for 20 years at Murray Lake. He taught me a lot of woodwork. I taught myself glass etching on china and glass cabinets.”
Yes, there was no challenge too big for Linda to handle, whether it was the etching of a standing bear and a partridge flying over his head, or other intrinsic scenes from nature.
“I found a picture of a standing bear in a magazine,” Linda said.
One of her first drawings was a sketch of the GI Joe doll. Some four decades later, Linda easily found the pencil drawing at the house. And it was not just the doll, but also some sketches of the Beatles.
Linda started drawing when she was 11 years old. Growing up as a 4-H girl and doing rodeo, she loved to draw horses.
She went to the Alton country school from 1964 to 1968 prior to going to the Lowell public schools.
“I rode my horse to school,” she laughed.
But, sometimes it was mom Jan Kropf who played the bus driver loading up the kids in a car and hauling them to school.
Linda graduated from the Lowell High School in 1976, and she received the perfect graduation gift.
It was tuition for one year at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids. She had already taken advanced ceramics and design classes in high school. In sixth grade, Linda also took art classes from local artist Jan Johnson.
Four years ago, Linda started her Natures Serenity line of artwork on slab and drift wood.
“I love being outside, hunting, taking pictures of nature and kayaking,” she said.
While kayaking on the Flat River on the morning the Whites Bridge in Smyrna burnt, Linda found pieces of driftwood and metal from the bridge down the river.
She painted the covered Whites Bridge on a piece of driftwood and hung it on the metal from the bridge. First the driftwood had to dry out and Linda coated it with three to four coats of polyurethane to preserve them.
The two pieces sold at the Danish Festival in 2014 in Greenville with half of the proceeds going to the “Rebuild Whites Bridge” organization.
Artist Linda is also an avid hunter, who annually heads out into the woods in the Upper Peninsula with her husband Scott. Naturally, she would not reveal their “sacred hunting grounds” somewhere northwest of Marquette.
Scott has been hunting for the last 45 years, while Linda started hunting 11 years ago. Before that Linda rabbit hunted with her brother. She took her first deer with a gun, when she was three months pregnant in 1986.
For Linda, family always comes first.
“I started going with Scott with my camera and took my artwork with me,” she said. “We go during the gun season hunting for bear, and I bow hunt for deer.”
Naturally, Linda who took up bow hunting three years ago, is inspired by the great outdoors and what it has to offer. Her booth at the Dec. 3 Rogue River Arts Show was an amazing display of nature’s scenes on wood. Everything from deer, fowl, fish, Queen Anne’s lace to footprints captured on a wooden slab. Some of the artwork boasted 3D imagery in detailed foliage and branches during different seasons.
“I like the fall, so bow and arrow wins,” she said. “I feel safer.”
One of her scariest experiences was while hunting on the ground.
“I had a wolf behind sniffing at me,” she said. “I was nervous. I thought it was just a squirrel crinkling again.”
Well that “crinkling squirrel” turned out to be a 157 pound black bear. But, these adventures do not prevent Linda from going “Up North” to hunt in the “sacred land.”
“We stay in a camper, 10 days at a time depending on the weather,” she said. “Sometimes it’s two hours to the closest processor.”
And back home in Lowell, the dinner always features some wild game, whether deer, bear, fish or fowl in the form of burger, roast or steaks.
“We have deer all the time,” Linda said.
Most recently, based on popular demand from the less macho side of the population, Linda added to her wildlife art portfolio paintings of chickadees and cardinals.
“It runs the gamut from deer, moose, bass and I added flowers, “she said.
Natures Serenity artwork is available at Bodacious in Rockford and at Pinky’s Place Antique & Artisan Market in Grand Rapids.
Her busy art show season starts in July with the Fourth of July Artist Show in the UP, Lake Odessa Arts in the Park on Aug. 5th, Danish Festival on Aug. 19th & Aug. 20th and Rockford on Sept. 10th
The last show of the season is always the Rogue River Arts & Artisan Show on the first Saturday in December at the Lowell High School.
Linda Kropf Phillips Natures Serenity artwork can be viewed at lindakropfphillips@Facebook.com.
Nominate a woman who has in any way inspired you this year or in the past. In the IW women’s series, I have featured artists like Kathleen Mooney, entrepreneur Station Salon’s owner Nancy DeBoer, hiker Gail “Chosen” Lowe who has hiked all five national trails in the USA, Lowell Area Chamber director Liz Baker, former Lowell city clerk Betty Morlock, trail developer Carolyn Kane, founder of SowHope Mary Dailey Brown and many others.
E-mail Emma via the contact page or on Facebook at emmapalova@Facebook.com
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