PATRICIA GLEE SMITH
“I am interested in the timelessness of the bits and pieces of life, in beauty found in unexpected places, in imperfect objects observed in a moment of rest. I am intrigued by the idea of the interconnectedness of all things.”
Patricia Glee Smith is a painter and etcher. She was born in a small town on the Mississippi river, in northwestern Illinois, USA. As a child she was drawn to the outdoors, observing, drawing, reading. She doesn't remember many events from her childhood, but she has visual memories of scenes, colors, details of light, and shadow in landscapes or on objects.
Music has been equally important in her life. Patricia Glee Smith began to study the violin at eight years, continuing until university. There were no professional artists in her family, but many of the women were very creative and talented; her great grandmother was an excellent amateur painter. When the time came to choose a career to follow, she chose art.
Patricia Glee Smith drew constantly from a very young age. She always knew that she would be an artist someday. Attention to detail in rendering her subject has always intrigued her, and she strove from an early age to capture it: it is the intimate detail of her subject that forms her images. Light and shadow are also fundamental features of Patricia Glee Smith’s work.
Patricia Glee Smith attended a University to study painting at the time when abstract expressionism was in favor, and it was considered wrong to paint figuratively. In fact, there was almost no technical training or life drawing available in her school during her four years there. In the end, Patricia Glee Smith was told that she could never be an artist. Patricia Glee Smith was discouraged but kept on working and studying on her own, mainly drawing, entirely for herself. Eventually, she moved to Italy, where she still lives. Patricia Glee Smith has chosen not to earn her living with her painting in order to be free of pressure from the art market and
fashions of the moment. Patricia Glee Smith has always been interested in archaeology, and she was lucky to find her work as an expedition artist on various archeological sites in Italy, Turkey, Yemen, and Tibet. She also worked for many years with the Oriental museum (Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale, now closed), in Rome, as an artist and art director. Patricia Glee Smith contributed drawings to the New Yorker magazine for a period of about 15 years. During this time, she also studied etching in Italy and etching was her principle medium for a time.
Patricia Glee Smith lived in Rome for many years, and now she lives and works in a small medieval village in Umbria, Italy.
Patricia Glee Smith was awarded a fellowship to the MacDowell Foundation for artists and writers in New Hampshire, and twice to the Ragdale Foundation, in Lake Forrest, Illinois, all very important experiences for her work as an artist. Her drawings were published in the New Yorker magazine for many years. Her work has been published in an art magazine in Italy (Stile Arte). Patricia Glee Smith received the award for excellence in painting from Napoli Culture Classic association in May 2016. Her work was present in ADORN ME: an online exhibition curated by Carol Hodes and by publisher and curator at PoetsArtists, Didi Menendez. She is present with a painting in the permanent collection of the MACS Museum of Contemporary Art, Catania (http://www.museomacs.it). Patricia Glee Smith has been in many exhibitions, both solo and group, in the USA and in Europe. She is honored to have been, for a time, with the outstanding gallery for figurative art in Rome "Il Polittico", until it closed a few years ago.
Patricia Glee Smith’s art is whimsical, serious, elegant, magnetic and simply truthful. The components in her art pieces remind you what is like to be alive -experiencing life regardless of the circumstances. She brings a type of perfection that is not only seen, but felt. There is an insatiable desire to express, and expressing she does! Patricia Glee Smith dares to combine different elements, in different aspects, and the results are simply mesmerizing.
Q. What role does the Artist/ Painter have in society?
A. From an article written for the New York Times by Michael Kustov. August 2, 1970:
"Every sentence that begins “The role of the artist is...” is untrue as soon as spoken. Professors have roles, politicians have roles, speakers in debates have roles. No sooner do you clothe an artist in a role than he slips out of it and is skipping away down a road you hadn't imagined....art is a perpetual questioning of oneself and of the world."
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it.
A. It is very difficult for me to talk about my painting. My subjects choose me, and not vice versa. I don't plan my paintings. I paint on impulse whatever touches me at a given moment. I have no goal except to capture the soul of my subject, and to do it as well as I can in terms of painting. My object is to create a tribute.
My style is figurative and highly detailed. I work from life, and rarely use a photographic reference. When I cannot paint on site, I make detailed studies and drawings of the subject from life on my iPad, and use them as references for my paintings.
At first, I was mainly interested in the still life, but recently have been experimenting with landscape and the figure.
In my paintings, I try to create movement or stillness using color, light and form: structure, surface, and content are primary concerns. I am interested in the timelessness of the bits and pieces of life, in beauty found in unexpected places, in imperfect objects observed in a moment of rest. I am intrigued by the idea of the interconnectedness of all things. I like to take my subjects out of context, and make them monumental.
My work is very personal. My subjects are all connected with my life.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. As a child, spending summers with my great grandmother in her beautiful old house. I was allowed to sleep in the special open, but screened bedroom, (called the sleeping porch) looking out onto the trees and the garden. I loved listening to the summer storms, the wind, the birdsong...
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. An artist.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I don't remember the first art I made, but my mother began saving my drawings when I was about 5 years old.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in art.
Q. If you could work with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
A. Vermeer, Claudio Bravo (but there are many).
Q. What is your favorite artwork of all time?
A. I don't have a favorite artwork. I admire many, and of many periods.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Beauty and the unique.
Q. What medium(s) do you work with?
A. I have been an etcher and now mainly paint. I have painted in egg tempera, watercolor, acrylic, and gouache, but now only in oil.
I also like to draw in graphite and ink.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. My worst trait is impatience, but it has gotten me into trouble only with myself...
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. My violin.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. There are so many extraordinary artists that inspire me. Henk Helmantel, Sargeant, Claudio Bravo, Hammershøi are just a few.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. It can be solitary, but never lonely.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. I love music, people, traveling, reading.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. For me, painting is a constant learning process. It is important to be open to other artists' work and to learn from it. I believe that an artist's experience in life contributes to his/her style. My work has benefited from years of detailed archaeological work in which it is necessary to observe closely. That experience has also allowed me to be in contact with other cultures and the art of the past. "Art" is present everywhere; we must learn to see it.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Learning something new with each new work, and communicating my vision.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Quoting Goethe: I am a citizen of the world.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. It was to apply for my first artist's residence, at the MacDowell Colony, on the advice given to me by Bernarda Bryson, fine artist and wife of the artist Ben Shahn. She encouraged me in my work, suggested paths for me to follow, and was a good friend. She taught me a great deal about art and being an artist.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Excellence in your field takes constant hard work and concentration. I think it is important never to become complacent. Work can be continually improved. Evolve, appreciate the work of others. Be generous, share what you know. My personal goal has never been to pursue fame but rather excellence.