Artist Stephen John Smith uses handpainted digital imagery to create worlds of fantasy and whimsy. Please visit his website to see more of his art.
Although I’m a studio artist and create all my art within the nurturing comfort of familiar walls, Mother Nature remains pivotal to my inspiration.
Born and raised in a large Australian city, one would think that such a chaotic urban environment would have markedly influenced my artistic growth. Clearly not. With my head almost constantly in the clouds, the strength of my inner fantasy world just wouldn’t allow the reality of noisy streets much influence. And one mustn’t forget my constant fascination with both nature and the multitudes of mysteries that underpin all life. City life never had a chance. As my inner explorations matured, I realized I’d stumbled on a limitless wellspring of creative inspiration.
Now, serendipitously, I live and create in a small village nestled within the borders of New York’s breathtaking Adirondack State Park.
Drawing, tinkering, and endless daydreaming filled my childhood to the brim. Sadly, my blue-collar upbringing offered little in the way of support for my inclinations. In retrospect, I can’t help viewing those years as a cultural wasteland. But I survived and, luckily, fate had a few tricks up its sleeve. While still in my teens, college life swept me up and, as a full-time painting student, I embarked on a thoroughly transformative journey into fine art.
During my time at art school, I experimented with a multitude of techniques, styles, and approaches, searching as all art students do for the path leading to my unique calling. By final year, my canvases were beginning to reflect my childhood leanings; fantasy, whimsy, and otherworldliness. There was also a growing sense of warm belonging whenever I pondered these subjects.
Without any conscious decision, I had found my path.
For decades I painted in oils, egg tempera, and acrylics. In 2004, however, I discovered the digital art world. After some tentative experimentation, I devoted the next seven years to transferring my traditional painting skills to the new digital medium.
Although I’ve now packed away all my traditional painting tools, I still paint as I did before. Within this new creative arena I continue to fashion each painting using traditional oil and egg tempera painting skills. I build up form and texture by laying down an uncountable number of tiny semi-transparent brush strokes, one on top of the other. I also use this network of strokes to weave color into the image. Many intermediate transparent glazes also add to the image’s color richness.
Any one painting can take weeks to complete, and several digital drawings and studies often precede it.
I make my digital paintings available as museum-quality art prints that I produce myself. A few years ago I made a sizable investment and bought a high-end, wide-format Giclée printer. As the quality of the art prints produced by this printer are simply breathtaking, I’ve never regretted the decision. Printing is now an integral part of my creative expression.