Ford Smith of Ford Smith Fine Art shares his development as an artist

artGuide Magazine is excited to share with readers our recent sit-down with Roswell artist, Ford Smith of Ford Smith Fine Art.  Ford Smith discusses his development as an artist and his new series, Human Nature.


Ford Smith is an award winning artist showcasing his work at Ford Smith Fine Art in Roswell, Georgia.  His works can be found in collections throughout the United States and abroad.  We sat down with Ford Smith to understand his inspirations and where his inspirations are taking him.

How has your childhood impacted the art you create today?
We were an Air Force family of six kids and lived all over the world when I was growing up.  While we were stationed near a small town in northern Japan, my mother spotted artistic talent in me and scraped up enough money to buy me painting lessons from an old Japanese master.  Sketching and painting trees was something I learned very early from that culture, and to this day I think you can still identify an Asian aesthetic to my work.  
In my teens, I was one of those kids who took art correspondence courses, if you can remember those advertisements that asked you to draw a cartoon character like the one they showed and they would accept you based upon your results.  I took it very seriously as a child and worked diligently on each course.  Money was not easy to come by in our large military family and I was going to maximize my parent’s investment.  Those early lessons and courses led me to obtaining my BFA in Painting from Ole Miss with a full ride scholarship.

What inspires the colors, shapes, and forms in your paintings?
After graduating with my degree in art, I fell into a fashion and commercial photography career that lasted for 25 years, until I turned 50 and gave it all up to return to painting with 100% focus.  Fashion photography taught me to be bold with color, and from world travels during that period and still today I’ve been exposed to countless landscapes, vistas, and the wonders of nature and all its colors and compositions.  For me, nature is an endless source of inspiration and I can’t see an end to discovering new ways to interpret it.

Photography taught me to study light and composition on a level that is rare for an artist.  This was before Photoshop, and I had to master how light actually worked so that I could create natural light in artificial environments.  It’s not as easy as you’d believe.  I have a near photographic memory which helps when I’m painting since I don’t use any references.  I paint intuitively and impulsively, looking at nothing but my paints and canvas.

How do you define your distinct style?
I choose to paint expressively, challenging myself to push the boundaries of landscape interpretations. After returning to painting after 25 years, it took me some time to find myself again as an painter.  After painting photo-realism, abstract, figurative, all the genres, I discovered that I found the most fulfillment in re-interpreting how landscapes are conjured.  For me, it’s an endless creative challenge to find new ways to reflect water, reinvent trees, leaves, and skies.  And then using those experiences to branch off into other subject matters from time to time, like still life and figurative.  These days it’s not unusual for me to blend a couple of subject matters at once.  Hence, my Human Nature series, which combines figurative and landscapes.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on my Human Nature series.  I have a commissioned original painting that is consuming me at the moment, and then I have a show in June that will focus on other works from this series.  It’s a particularly interesting collection of paintings that camouflage humans within nature.  Sometimes it takes people a moment to “get it”, but then they do.  Some of these paintings depict the figure or figures passionately or provocatively, others might be strong, elated, or tender.  I love the creative challenge that these paintings command and they are really fun for me to create.  Viewers are fascinated by the blending and subtle hiding of those subject matters that cause you to look deeper into the art.

Ford Smith Fine Art at 980A Canton Street, Roswell, GA / 678.908.1989