Simon M Smith's works are the epitome of springtime splendour. Through a delicate layering of recycled dressmaking patterns, acrylic paint and hand-drawn motifs, he captures fragmented florals with a contemporary edge. Read on to discover how he creates his canvases, and hear all about his inspirations and influences.
Tell us about the process you use to create your work & the inspirations behind it?
I work in a studio at the end of a productive garden. I make a lot of drawings of flowers and leaves on tissue paper from unwanted dress patterns using a fine-nibbed permanent marker. Once I have primed the canvas, I start pasting tissue paper onto the surface. I often use the printed lines found on the dress patterns to give structure to my work: to make shapes, and build some sort of framework for other elements to play off. Sometimes I leave words and numbers on the dress patterns as part of the composition.
I use acrylic paint, primarily because it dries quickly. I make changes rapidly when I am working, particularly in the early stages of a painting, and build my pictures in layers of tissue and paint. It’s important, therefore, to use materials that PVA glue will adhere to well.
As the painting progresses, I draw and redraw shapes on the canvas, add new drawn images on tissue paper, and make continual adjustments. I have a simple, workmanlike approach to painting: when I go in the studio I do what I can see needs doing. This leads me on to the next stage, and that’s how I progress.
I don’t have a predetermined goal when I start a work. I only know that a painting is finished when it seems that there is nothing left to do: the painting has found its own reason for existing, and makes sense according to its own internal logic.
What was the first artwork you ever made? Can you remember?
I can’t remember what it was of, but I recall going to see a painting of mine in an exhibition of children’s artwork when I was quite small. Did they really hang it beneath a table? That’s how I remember it…
Who are your favourite artists?
I’ve studied the work of a lot of artists. I love looking at paintings, and I gain inspiration from most people’s work. My favourite painting is still Die Hülsenbeckschen Kinder by Philipp Otto Runge in the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
What do you love most about art & making art? What do you hate most about it?
Making art is still a mystery to me. I like to take myself by surprise and I like finding out what else I can do. Most importantly, I think making paintings allows me the opportunity to consider and give form to experiences that are very difficult to explain in words; it’s a way of discovering what I really think, and how I feel about the things around me.
What has been the greatest impact on you as an artist to date?
I have come to learn that you make art because you have to; if you turn up and do the work things will get done.
What’s playing in your studio right now?
I listen to a lot of music when I’m working – anything from Benjamin Britten to Captain Beefheart. Right now I’m particularly enjoying an album called Rabbit Eclipse by the Polish band KsiÄÅ¼yc. It's difficult to describe and impossible to categorise, it’s the sort of music that reminds you there are no rules: everything is possible, everything is waiting to be done over again, but differently this time, because you’ve changed and the world has changed too.
What’s the most important object in your studio?
My studio is at the end of the garden – it’s a little world of its own. I can turn the music up loud, so my stereo’s pretty essential, but the most important thing I find in my studio is the time and space to paint.
The Spring Catalogue | Browse the Collection
If you're a traveler and devotee to the arts, then it's likely you have experienced the intense frustration that accompanies the knowledge of an incredible exhibition that is far, far away. More often than not, it is an art show so compelling, some will travel to the farthest reaches of their country simply to attend. Perhaps you're like me, and you too ensure that holidays and trips align with rare exhibitions in various locations around the world? Perhaps not? Luckily, I have done the hard job of researching (daydreaming) about incredible travel locations that will also offer the superb ability to catch an exceptional or must-see exhibition. Discover my list of mandatory travel exhibitions for 2017 and allow your mind to wander.
1 “Stillness in Motion” - Cloud Cities
What: A solo exhibition showcasing the work of Tomás Saraceno
Where: SF Moma. San Francisco, California. US
When: December 2016- 21 May 2017
The newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern art is sure to impress regardless of which exhibition you attend. However, there is something all the more intriguing about the idea of enjoying Saraceno’s progressive, socially conscious work in that space.
2 The Rubble Project: “Is That All There Is?”
Where: The Substation, Singapore
When: 01 September 2016 - 28 February 2017
An iconic contemporary art destination in Singapore for over 25 years, The Substation is revamping in response to the local art community’s vocal outcry of monotony. “Is That All There Is?” was their response, which aims to utilize what the gallery has listed as three radical experiments.
3 “Everything Must Go” - Sophia Al Maria
Where: Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE
When: 22 February 2017 - 1 April 2017
An iteration on her powerful “Black Friday” piece for the Whitney last year. This exhibition will create an immersive experience for audiences, whilst baiting them to question their ideas on consumption, capitalism, and chaos. In the context of the space, she furthers the conversations about “Gulf Futurism”, a term coined by the artist which also carries inquiries into isolation via technology, wealth, and Islam. Oh, and the space itself is an exceptional experience.
What: Group show featuring Over 30 artists
Where: Three locations in Sydney, Australia. NSW
- Art Gallery NSW: 30 March - 16 July 2017
- Carriageworks: 30 March - 25 June 2017
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: 30 March - 18 June 2017
A three-part show with much to offer outside of art, this exhibition is sure to be a significant one for the Asia-Pacific region. Currently set to premier three times in the next 5 years, (every 2 years), it will be a highlight of the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art, curated across three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions. If you time it during the end of May to early June, Vivid will be on and you can also enjoy, “one of the most spectacular light shows in the world”.
*Vivid, 23 nights from Friday 26 May to Saturday 17 June 2017.
What: Group show with more than 300 International artists participating this year
Where: Click link for details
- Athens, Greece: 8 April - 16 July 2017
- Kassel Germany, The Fridericianum: 10 June - 17 September 2017
As this exhibition bonanza only occurs every 5 years, (and did not run for over a period between 1964-1972), it is certainly an exhibition that you must attend at least once in your lifetime. A cultural hub for contemporary artists from all over the world, it is also known as the “museum of 100 days”. With two locations being utilized this year, an emphasis on cultural dialogues may just benefit us all.
6 “Antibodies” - Carol Rama
Where: New Museum, NY
When: 26 April - 10 September
The largest presentation of Rama’s work in the US to date. An abstract painter that has had a large influence later in her career, she has more recently attained an almost cult like status amoungst youner artists, bringing along with that a renewed interest in her geometrically complex and dynamic work. It will feature more than 100 paintings, objects, and works on paper.
7 “Viva Arte Viva” - 57th Venice Biennale (2017)
Where: Venice, Italy
When: 13 May - 26 November 2017
One of the most famous art events internationally, the Venice Biennale features “national pavilions” using artists to represent each country. This year it is curated by Christine Marcel, and over 85 artists will be shown. Even more interestingly, four new countries being added this year, and Kazakhstan will have its own pavilion for the first time.
8 “David Hockney”
Where: Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
When: 21 June - 23 October
An icon in the contemporary art world, Hockney’s influence has found its way into many an artists’ oeuvre. Did you miss this show when it was at the Tate Modern last year? Well you will have two more chances to see it, as the exhibition will travel from Paris to the Met Museum in New York. One of the largest exhibitions of Hockney’s work, this exhibition will surely please.
9 Zeitz MOCAA Grand Opening
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
When: 15-17 September 2017 Professional and Patron Gala weekend 23 September 2017 Open to the public
Words cannot relay my excitement for this museum opening. The largest museum on the continent of Africa in 100 years, with architectural imaginings that evoke a child-like wonder, this space will be one to visit in the coming year. Funded by the Zeitz foundation, (a brain-child of former Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz and Richard Branson), it will house numerous artists from his collection, as well as utilize the space to showcase local and international talent.
10 “The Way I think” - George Condo
Where: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (40km south of Copenhagen)
When: 9 November 2017 - 4 February 2018
This will be the first time Condo has ever shown in Scandinavia. A focus on his works on paper bring the viewers closer to the artist and his technical style as well as ability. There are so many layers to a Condo, with the art historical references and elements of American Pop art, this show will review over four decades of work by the artist. If you happen to be in Denmark earlier in the year, another iconic show at the Louisiana will feature, Marina AbramoviÄ exhibition (17 June- 22 October 2017).
And if you still aren’t convinced that art is worth traveling for, I leave you with the words of Paolo Barrata, President of La Biennale di Venizia. “In this type of humanism, the artistic act is contemporaneously an act of resistance, of liberation, and of generosity.”
About the Author
Antoinette Williams is an independent art consultant, curator, and writer, Antoinette is an enthusiast of art of all media. Holding a BA in Art History and MA in Fine and Decorative Art, she has been a contributing writer for Or Does It Explode Magazine, Fresh Paint Magazine, and Artfetch, (now joined with Rise Art). She currently divides her time between San Diego and New York.
March Curator's Picks | Browse the Collection
Posted by Teddy Hall on 15th March 2017
Abstract painter and one to watch Grace Aza-Selinger's otherworldly paintings see electric colours fuse on canvas in an explosion of expression. Through the masterful manipulation of paint on canvas, she creates mesmerising artworks inspired by the intrinsic patterns of nature. Microcosmic and universal all at once, her works are a playful ode to the exotic and magnificent natural world.
Having exhibited alongside the likes of Sir Peter Blake, and with a handful of solo shows in major cities under her belt and works in private collections across the globe, this fresh talent is worth keeping an eye on. Grace gave us a tour of her studio, revealing the step-by-step process behind her Water Blooms series and sharing the influences behind her colourful, dreamy pieces.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I wanted to be an artist since before I can remember, it has always been something I knew very strongly about myself. As a child I used to spend hours copying from other artists like Hockney and Monet. I recall being so surprised when another friend didn't have colours or paper, that I gave her some of mine - creative expression has always been intrinsic to my life.
Give us a quick one or line about your studio space - what do you love about it?
I'm lucky to have a beautiful view from my studio - if I ever feel like I need an inspiration boost I just look out the window to recharge. I used to work in a studio space with no windows which is definitely not something I recommend - as an artist you're inspired by the world around you so it's important that you have access to it when you're at your most creative.
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful piece?
My current favourite work is 'Become', because it was a real journey to get it to the point where I was happy with it. I was at a stage where I could have overworked it and ruined that subtle balance between a beautiful and average painting!
Where do you seek inspiration?
Inspiration can come from anywhere - often it's a new city or environment that makes you look at things with fresh eyes. Nature is a continuous source of inspiration for me. In particular Grunewald Forest in Berlin, and the city of Paris, have been places that I fell in love with; I made whole new bodies of work as a result of a visit there. I also love looking at the work of other artists and being inspired by their processes. There's a whole world of material out there and sometimes the job of the artist is simply to process it all in a way that a viewer can relate to!
Talk us through the process behind your pieces...
A lot of my work is influenced by nature, and for my latest series I became inspired by the concept of using the paint to mimic some of the beautiful organic formations that can be found in the natural world. For me, the best works are the ones that are most instinctive, where the paint takes on a life of its own.
To create my 'Water Blooms' series, I start by choosing two or three colours which I think will really work well together - at the moment I'm inspired by neon pinks and opaque blues - before creating a fluid mixture of each colour using a blending medium. I pour them onto the canvas and manipulate patterns using a lot of lung power to blow the paint into position. It's really incredible to watch these beautiful formations appearing.
After this initial phase I will then go over some areas with a brush to either further define or blend. Then I'll add a strong background colour to frame the formation. I always believed that art should be about emotion - when you fall in love with a painting, it is not a rational process, rather an immediate visual reaction - the same goes for creating it.
This month's Roundup is all about female artists. Brimming with artist news and art world happenings, look no further for your one-stop art fix.
Today, on International Women’s Day, we come together to celebrate the achievements of women and continue to drive change for a more inclusive, gender equal world. So it only seems appropriate for us to take stock and celebrate our favourite female artists of all time.
The utilitarian medium of spray paint has made its mark on the art world mostly through the rising genre of street art and graffiti. I’ve rounded up ten great pieces offered on Rise Art, which shows the breadth of possibility created with the spray can.
Self-taught artist Violet Astor discovered the meditative medium of drawing as a form of art therapy to aid her in her ongoing battle with Lymes Disease. Discover her incredible story and hear about her recent travels to India in our exclusive interview with the artist.
Originating in 17th century France, the Salon style hang quickly became a way of bringing art to the masses and breaking down the cultural walls of the elite classes. It’s a trend that has transcended the worlds of art and interiors, especially popular today as a means of displaying even the most eclectic of collections. Be fearless and follow our simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving the look in your home.
We recently caught up with London-based illustrator and artist, Ellie Vandoorne, getting a tour of her studio and and observing the stages of her practice. Discover more about Ellie and browse her latest releases on Rise Art.
The 70th anniversary of the prestigious BAFTA ceremony airs this Sunday, and to celebrate we’re thrilled to announce our partnership with the association and bring you a rare release of photographs capturing the glitz and the glamour of this long-running event.