Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Looking deeper into the spirit

Michigan artist Keith Smith believes art should take the viewer a step beyond the surface of an object. As a result, his paintings are characterized by a vigorous, often unorthodox use of color, accompanied by strong contours. “I try to use color as a way to make the viewer see more than the basic shapes that define what’s already known to us,” he says.

A native of Traverse City, Keith is entirely self-taught though he’s been drawing and painting since his elementary school days. He paints in acrylics to take advantage of their rich hues and quick drying time — allowing him to layer his colors with little waiting, and without compromising the color purity of each layer.

His influences include the usual suspects like van Gogh, Matisse and the other Fauves because of their unusual and innovative use of color. But he has been just as affected by the clarity and boldness of the American west. The work of Native American artists like the late Fritz Scholder and T.C. Cannon, and their adherents, have played a large role in his artistic development, as well.

“The way they use color — unreal and almost bizarre at times — lures you into the picture and has a way of making you look deeper into the spirit of the subject depicted,” he says. “That’s the goal I have with my paintings. I want people to see that ordinary things can be extraordinary in nature.”

Whether it’s a simple barn, galloping horse, talking crow, or tree-lined hillside, his paintings attempt to evoke the emotion, passion and energy of life.

Gallery Fifty is currently show five of his works, including "Is Anybody Listening?, 24" x 30" framed, $600. Call us for more information or images of Keith's paintings: 231-932-0775.