Gary Ernest Smith

The famous religious painter Carl Bloch was said to have dipped his paintbrush in his heart. As an artist, I relate to that statement because painting for me is a way to turn myself inside out and share what is there on canvas. Sometimes I see things that are so painfully beautiful that I can find no adequate words to describe them. My art has become a spiritual language where I can express myself without speaking. And hopefully those who view my paintings will feel what I am trying to say with no words passing between us. I have found that it is through visual imagery that I can best reveal my passions.

As an artist I am more interested in painting my emotional reaction to a subject than in creating a photorealistic rendering of it; consequently my paintings lean more to impressionism than realism. I tend to work in an abbreviated style where the suggestion is more important than the completed statement, and where the parts or details are sacrificed for the good of the whole. I’ve learned that the less I give away in my paintings, the more people seem to read in them.  To me, there is more poetry in an image when not every detail is spelled out and the viewer is allowed to solve some of the mystery.

I love to capture the abstract patterns of light and shadow in the subject as, paradoxically, I find this creates a more realistic image when viewed from a short distance. I generally paint things that I am close to, both in distance and in feeling. I am not about depicting vast expanses of nature, but rather of close, intimate corners of personal spaces. Any subject is game for my brush as long as it is beautifully lit. In truth, light is always the subject I find most exciting, as anything it touches is enhanced in depth, dimension, vibrance, and beauty. This is the spiritual implication art has for me.

I consider it the greatest of privileges to be an artist–to notice the grandeur in small things around me, to celebrate them on paper or canvas, and to share my passion for life though my artwork. 

“I was born and raised in a rural farm community twenty miles north east of Baker City, Oregon. The demands of farm life taught me the values of discipline and self reliance. When I left the farm for an art career, I was able to draw upon those deep seeded values that rural life had taught me, and my subject matter became those people, places and things that had been so ingrained in me while growing up on the farm. These images cross the boundaries of time and to me they are symbolic of the soul of America.

My work is a sketchbook of my life. It reflects my growth and evolution as an artist. As I have progressed on this journey new experiences and influences have become a part of me and my work.

As a young artist I was impressed by a scriptural passage in Exodus which refers to the artisans and craftsmen who built the tabernacle as “wise-hearted.” With this in mind I have always sought a higher level of inspiration and positive purpose that may reflect and inspire the best of humanity. My desire is to create art that is spiritual but not necessarily overtly religious: it must always speak of deeper feelings and emotions that get to the heart of the subject.”

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