Laurel Schenstead-Smith

You may take the long view or the close up view, but when you gaze at nature’s beauty, fury, or stillness you are gradually brought into its intrigue. If you gaze long enough it will offer you its gifts.
“Literature, painting, music – the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot. In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things.” Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark
I often wonder why I paint… why create…? Do I simply push around the colours with a brush until they form a pleasing image, rework paint into an expression of yet another interpretation of a scene? Sometimes it seems that I am simply copying or reforming what has been done many times before.

One might say though, “Yes, but this painting, is remade according to who I am, my delights, my sorrows, my vision and senses.” This thought feeds my creativity.

Fulfillment comes when light and colour clash or flow into one another and reflect back to me from the paper, when acrylic paint is burnished to form the look of worn leather or lightly touched to the canvas to form mist. Paint put to paper or canvas reveals nature’s beauty and mankind’s creations as I see them. How grateful I am to be able to see, hear, smell and touch – and how grateful I am to live life where I can “glimpse the infinity that hides in the simple sights,” and respond creatively to what is.

After setting aside my high school paints and immersing myself in academics and family life, I found my way back to my brushes in 2004 when I took a watercolour class. I attended sketching and painting classes and critique workshops with Cecelia Jurgens, Jack Reid, and Brian Atyeo and have spent many hours mulling over books written by favorite artists who have indirectly been my mentors. The members of the Big Sky Artists group have encouraged me on my journey since inviting me to join them and it has been a privilege to show with them annually since 2006. I paint in watercolour, acrylic and oil mediums. Subject wise, I paint what resonates with me, what seems to call me to paint it for some particular, sometimes inexplicable, reason. Places I have been, images I have seen or imagined or that hold a special memory.

I hope my paintings will cause you to pause, to call forth in you a feeling of “being there,” a special memory. Or, perhaps they will awaken within you the desire for more creativity in your life.