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Painter Matt Smith was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1960, but it was three years later that he moved to the place that would provide the deepest artistic and emotional attachment: the state of Arizona, where he has spent much of his adult life. Smith graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting in 1985. However, his disenchantment with the academic emphasis on abstract art led Smith in a very different direction. Smith intensively studied the works of classic landscape masters -such as Maynard Dixon, William Herbert Dunton, and Edgar Payne –and took workshops with their contemporary counterparts –including M.W. “Skip” Whitcomb and Michael Lynch.
Building on these traditions, Smith paints landscapes uninterrupted by either human or animal life. A plein air painter, Smith uses color and texture in his oil paintings to impart the works with a sense of tangibility, a distinct sense of the sensory experience of a place, whether that place is the Grand Tetons, the redwood forest of California, or Smith’s beloved Sonoran Desert. For Smith, this tangibility is more important than absolute accuracy in a painting. Smith moves away from photorealism in his work, focusing instead on a few defining points that will capture the mood and feeling of a scene. Smith focuses on capturing the character of a given setting, avoiding anything that might distract the viewer from a landscape’s distinctive qualities.
What I feel outdoors is important to me. My paintings are more than just a re-creation of a particular view. I try to imbue them with the feel of the wind, the sounds of wildlife, and the smell of the fresh air.
Smith’s works have numerous awards, including the Best of Show and Artistic Merit awards at the Western Rendezvous of Art and the Robert Lougheed Award at the Prix de West invitational exhibition. His paintings have also been featured in numerous group and solo shows in museums such as the Albuquerque Museum, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum. Smith also teaches seminars in New Mexico and Wyoming.