Artist Andrew A. Smith presents a collection of oil paintings based on international travel and history. Enjoy his portfolio and view more on his website.
Art is therapeutically paradoxical for me. It represents safety, but it is a realm in which to take risks. It is a place of maximum freedom, but it ensnares. And it is where peace of mind and obsession attempt to achieve equipoise.
My earliest memories of art are making pencil drawings. I stopped drawing when I started painting. At some point, I picked up a camera, and my origins in digital photography evolved to film photography. Rod Stewart told us that “every picture tells a story.” I agree with that, and having also authored over 300 poems, I also believe words are their own story. I will also photograph or paint words as a primary subject.
The relationship between my film photography and oil painting is my analog amalgam. Setting up a large format camera on a wooden tripod is like setting up a canvas on a wooden easel. After completing my largest and most involved paintings, I photographed them on large format film. The 8”x10” film images of those finished canvases are as significant to me as the paintings themselves.
I have not drawn that much in years. But I paint as if I am drawing and think of it as illustrative fidelity. I do not, however, draw on my canvases. If I were going to do that, I would just go ahead and draw on paper. I picked up a paintbrush, in part, because I could add color and experience textures in ways that were different (though not necessarily better) than if I were drawing. That difference has sustained itself for me over the years. I will paint just about anything, because I would draw just about anything.
Architecture and the elements of wood, metal, and stone walls have always had an allure for me. Houses of worship provide a particular way to study the history of a nation, region, culture, warfare, or all of the above. They bring together words, wood, metal, and stone in harmony or disharmony, as the case may be.
More specifically, I am drawn to the range and level of detail in these buildings, including the fluidity of domes and arches. Houses of worship have both spiritual and secular resonance; the light that strikes, e.g., a crescent or a cross has a different significance in reality and in the image. Photographing these buildings on film in another country and then bringing that image home to paint is in its own way a spiritual and secular journey.
On any given day, I do not know what I will be photographing, but I do know that “tomorrow” I may be painting it. And for any painting I make, I may spend an inordinate amount of time and effort photographing it. Each image (whether it contains words or not) speaks to me, and hopefully, also to those looking at it.
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