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From Michelle McDowell Smith: 

● Inspiration: 

“Of Land and Sky ~ Whimsical and Free, which began in 2014, is the title of my current body of work. I imagined creating art that was softly surreal with a storybook sensibility. I wanted it to feel hopeful and aspirational, yet also include themes reflecting on disappointment, loneliness, and the loss of innocence. I continue to try to elevate the sense of wonder, romance, and optimism to which we aspire while accepting the sadness and incompleteness we sometimes succumb to. I feel that the buoyant and promising themes are felt more intensely because of these somber elements coexisting in the work". 

● Process: 

“I most often work on canvas, but occasionally on wood or gesso board. My initial sketches tend to be loose and simple, but as I am a thorough planner, they eventually become much more extensive. 

Once sketched onto the canvas, I gather collage materials – vintage prints, hand-crafted papers, sewing patterns, maps, old letters and postcards, vintage book pages, and more. I am deliberate with what I choose to collage and where it is placed on the canvas. These meaningful details give a sense of nostalgia and help tell the story of the piece. I collage and seal this ephemera onto the canvas, creating almost a silhouette of the subjects who will appear in the work. 

I began painting. At this point, nothing escapes my brush. I paint into every collage element, creating animals or other subjects full of emotion over the papers, bringing the piece to life. I add or alter the color. I create depth. I eliminate some details and keep others, blending everything seamlessly into the whole. Finally, I finish the piece with a protective gloss varnish. Upon completion, each piece is digitally captured. That allows me to create giclée quality reproductions printed on archival canvas and fine art papers”.


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