Linda Hartough’s paintings will be on display at Karis Art & Design Gallery on Hilton Head Island through April 20.
The 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, where the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing will be played (this) week, is distinguishable by the candy-striped lighthouse in the distance and feared for the stiff wind that often blows from scenic Calibogue Sound.
It’s a signature hole for the island and the state, and for golf landscape artist Linda Hartough.
Recognized internationally for her detailed course paintings, Hartough is considered golf’s leading artist and has been commissioned to do paintings for the Augusta National Golf Club, the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, to name a few.
However, it is her depiction of the 18th hole at Harbour Town GUlf Links, bathed in late afternoon light, that is the best-seller at Karis Art & Design Gallery on the island, owner Peter Karis said.
“She just captures the mood of the particular hole she’s painting better than any artist I’ve seen before,” he said. “Especially if people have played that course, they see it and they’ve got to have it.”
For the past several years, Karis has featured a number of Hartough’s paintings in his gallery during Heritage week, even extending his hours to attract as many golf fanatics as possible. This year, about 15 of Hartough’s paintings will be on display through April 20.
Hartough paints mostly championship courses, but she has also painted Secession Golf Club in Beaufort and the Old Tabby Links on Spring Island, where she lives.
Her career took off in 1984 when someone from Augusta National liked one of her landscapes on display at the island’s Red Piano Art Gallery and asked her to paint Augusta’s 13th hole.
“From there, other clubs started calling me and pretty soon it was all I was doing. It’s a niche I fell into, and the demand has been there ever since,” Hartough said.
It’s a lucrative niche as well. Original paintings can go for as much as $95,000, according to Hartough’s website. One piece can take between three to six months to complete, depending on the size, Hartough said. She usually does three to four pieces a year.
“I always go to every course I paint,” she said. “I take hundreds of pictures of any scene I do. Different light. Different angles. The plants. Everything.”
She approaches each course in two ways: as a scene the golfer would appreciate and as a piece of fine art.
“That’s a fair challenge to figure that out, because if you can only do one painting on the entire course, I try to pick a hole where you’re going to know where it is,” Hartough said.
Is it a strategic hole? Is it an important hole? Hartough must identify the hole and then find the lighting that brings it alive. It could be morning, afternoon, evening. She’ll stay on a course for hours waiting for the light to change. Sometimes she goes back at an entirely different season to see how the light differs.
Once back in the studio, but before she starts painting, Hartough will pore over her reference materials until she is able to visualize the exact image she wants.
Then she’ll work background to foreground using very tiny brushes and a lot of paint.
Surprisingly, Hartough does not like to play golf, though she is an avid watcher. Nor does she have a favorite course. Comparing the glowing, manicured lawns of Augusta National with the raw, wild landscape of courses like St. Andrews is like comparing apples and oranges, Hartough said.
“Every course has its own presence. I like to find the hole and the view that expresses that.”