September 2015 Artist of the Month – Jim Smither

Congratulations to our September Artist of the Month, Jim Smither! He was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! His painting Bicycle Society – Amersterdam is below. Keep scrolling to read more about the artist’s trips abroad and how his education has helped his creativity evolve!

Richmond, Virginia ~ jimsmitherfineart.com

Bicycle Society - Amsterdam by Jim Smither_September Artist of the Month

Bicycle Society – Amsterdam (transparent watercolor on paper, 20×28.5) by Jim Smither

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and began my painting career in 1993 after completing my studies at the University of Virginia, School of Architecture. In addition to being a fine artist, I’m a practicing Landscape Architect, Urban Planner and Urban Designer. I also teach illustration and design at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Bicycle Society – Amsterdam is a painting of Amsterdam on a wintery, rainy day. This scene is located on a street called Herenstraat, several blocks west of the core. To create this painting I worked from sketches and photos I took on a recent painting trip to the Netherlands. I was amazed at the level of bicycle usage in the city. Even on a drizzly day the streets were packed with bikes, pedestrians and of course boats. Cars in the center seem to be at a disadvantage. I loved the lively ambiance of the streets, squares and meeting many friendly people. I plan to travel there again soon during the warmer months. Just a beautiful city!

My formal training in Urban Design and Landscape Architecture has informed my painting by sharpening my focus on capturing the spatial and atmospheric qualities of landscapes and exploring the interplay of built and natural forms including the earth, sky, water, vegetation, buildings and public spaces. I chose watercolor and water-based acrylic because of its unique ability to express the presence of light in places and represent times of day including night, twilight and midday. People are often included in my work in order to show how they interact with places and others, and to give a sense of scale. I like to work the full range of tonality – from light and medium transparent washes and glazes, to rich colorful opaque darks. To create a sense of unity I often paint with a limited color palette.

My passion for creativity began at an early age; I expressed this in sculpture, music, photography and design, eventually evolving into painting. As an adult my interest in geography lead me to many places throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Asia. My subjects are based on on-site color, value and compositional studies that evoke certain moments in time. The final work is done in my studio where I work from memory and sketches, as well as from reference photographs taken locally or abroad. An important part of my process is editing the world I see by adding new elements or adjusting the colors to enhance the pictorial qualities I want to express.

This coming January 2016 I’m having a featured artist show at the Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, Virginia. The show will be call “Mediterranean Harbors and Hillsides.” The new paintings are based on recent trips to Spain and Italy.

My ambitions for the future are to continue to grow as an artist by exploring new ways of creating art and searching out new locations. In 2014 I started painting in acrylic and found that I like the flexibility of the medium. My background in watercolor has prepared me well for this exploration particularly in the use of transparent glazes. Over in the next three years I plan to take painting trips to Istanbul, the Greek Isles, London and Amsterdam.

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