My paintings represent living, breathing creatures that feel pain, care for and protect their families, and make survival decisions every day of their lives. It’s not just a “pretty picture,” it’s nature happening.
More importantly, through my art, I want to inspire others to appreciate the wildlife and habitat that is in jeopardy of disappearing forever. As more people embrace preservation and conservation of what we still have, the less likely we are to have a future with only “pretty pictures” of what we lost.
Artists for Conservation – Signature Member
Illinois State Museum – Juried Artist – Illinois Artisans Program
ACCOMPLISHMENTS (Exhibits, Awards, Competitions)
2nd Place – Professional Division and People’s Choice – “The Hawk & the Goldfinch” – Morton Pumpkin Festival Art Show – Morton, IL – Sept 2017.
Artists for Conservation Annual Exhibit Tour – Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ Dec 2016-Feb 2017
Artists for Conservation Annual Exhibit – Vancouver BC, Canada – Sept – Dec 2016
2nd – Water Media “The Hunt Begins” – Lynx – Irving Art Association’s Annual Wildlife/Domestic Art Exhibition, Irving, Texas, Sept 2015
St. Augustine Art Association Annual Nature & Wildlife Art Exhibit, St. Augustine FL – August 2015
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Charleston, South Carolina – 2013, 2014
“Art of the Animal Kingdom”, Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, Vermont – 2013
“2012 Best of America” – National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society’s Annual Exhibit.
Conservation Artist Award – January 2012 – Artists for Conservation
Solo Exhibit – Bertha Franks Performing Arts Center, Morton, Illinois; Jan – Feb, 2012.
“The Art of Conservation” – Artists for Conservation Annual Exhibit – 2011
“Art of the Plains 2011” American Plains Artists 27th Annual Exhibition- New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces, New Mexico – 2011
First Place-Oil/Acrylic – Irving Art Association 11th Annual Juried Wildlife Art Exhibit, Irving, Texas.
“Nature Revered: Reflections of Life in the Wild.” The First Annual Judith Ryan Williams Memorial Nature and Wildlife Fine Art Regional Juried Art Exhibition St. Augustine Art Association Gallery, St. Augustine Florida – 2010
“The Beach Boys” chosen for Exhibit Brochure Cover for “Nature Revered: Reflections of Life in the Wild” 2010
“2nd Annual Call of the Wild” Ciao Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming – 2009
First Place – Peoria Zoo Members’ Day Art Show – 2009
Mulvane Mountain/Plains Art Show (Mulvane Art Museum), Topeka, Kansas – June, 2009
25th Annual Iowa Nature & Wildlife in Art Show & Sale, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 2009
Paint America Top 100 – 2007, 2009
Second – Professional Division – Illinois Art League Annual Member’s Show
Paint America Second 100 – 2006
1st place – Professional Division Morton Pumpkin Festival Art Show – Morton IL
People’s Choice Morton Pumpkin Festival Art Show – Morton IL
Featured Artist – Solo Exhibit, L.I.W. Cargo Gallery, Manitou Springs, Colorado – August 2006
“Seasons of the Prairie” – J.N. “Ding” Darling Gallery – Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City Iowa – Nov-Dec 2005
Illinois Central College – East Peoria, Illinois – Associate
Beartooth School of Art
John Seerey-Lester / Paco Young – Workshop 2000
Terry Isaac/Rod Frederick – Workshop 1996
My childhood home was sometimes referred to as, “The Smith Menagerie.” That’s because there were as many animals running around as there were people! Dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, parakeets, snakes, and a mean ole Shetland Pony. Playing outdoors was a requirement, not an option. In the summer, my brothers and I were always outside; we went out and played in the rain – getting muddy dirty; or we would ride our bikes as far as we dared to – and beyond – just exploring a wide open countryside. What fun we had! Loving animals and nature came easy with so much exposure to both.
As a kid, I was always drawing something, animals, trees, our “menagerie”, or whatever I saw. In college, I studied commercial art and data processing and I worked in both fields. Painting, however, is my passion and nature, wildlife and horses are my favorite subjects. I attended wildlife art seminars in Jackson, Wyoming with instructors, Terry Isaac and Rod Frederick, and in Bozeman, Montana, with instructors, John Seerey-Lester and the late Paco Young to gain increased knowledge and skills as a wildlife artist.
Traveling throughout the United States, I have gathered reference material, photographs and field sketches of the wildlife I love to paint. I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park several times, Rocky Mountain National Park a gazillion times, and many other national parks and preserves throughout the country. Closer to home, I frequent Banner Marsh and Bell’s Landing which are wildlife and waterfowl refuges. Wherever I go, my camera and sketchbooks go with me. There is always something that catches my eye and I have to stop and sketch or photograph a fleeting moment to preserve it for future reference.
Lately I have turned my focus on the wildlife that is native to Illinois – my home state. Wildlife Prairie Park in Central Illinois is my favorite place to sketch and photograph. All the “residents” of the park are native to the State of Illinois and are housed in fenced enclosures where they are free to move about in native habitat. Interaction between the caretakers and “residents” is minimal – they are not trained or handled by the caretakers, and thus retain most of their natural, wild characteristics.