a picture of Brady Smith standing near water wearing a hat and coat, and a picture of one of his still life paintings

Paint Studio Demo Artist Brady Smith

Brady Smith will be in the Paint Studio demonstrating acrylic still life painting noon–3 pm on June 8–9, 2019. The Paint Studio is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and under.

Brady Smith was born and raised in Arvada. He attended Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he received a BFA in printmaking in 2011. In 2014, he went on to earn a master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London. While painting has always been part of Smith’s artistic practice, he didn’t fully begin exploring the medium until 2014 after returning home from grad school. His practice is centered on making quiet, still artwork that gives the viewer the space to contemplate the concepts displayed.

I try to make contemplative work. I like quiet art that gives the viewer the ability to study, ponder, and think.

– Brady Smith

Laura Thompson: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?

Brady Smith: I will be demonstrating my process of painting still lifes in acrylic. I plan on setting up a small still life, which I will sketch and paint there on site. Painting still lifes from life is important to me, and I’m excited to share that process with visitors to the studio.

LT: In your artist statement, you talk about how your approach to arranging compositions challenges traditional still life practices. Could you elaborate on why locating visual balance through precarious arrangements is important to you?

BS: The tradition of still life painting established by the Dutch usually revolved around decaying floral arrangements as a momento mori. Over time, that tradition evolved into the typical bowl of fruit idea of still life that has become so prevalent today. In these traditions, objects painted are place in a vessel, vase, or bowl. I’m more interested in fasteners and attaching things together. Binding, nailing, tacking, and tying objects together feels more physical and deliberate on the part of the artist. Physical balance of the objects is essential in order to make the still life actually work. This balance lends itself to the visual balance of the composition. I see it the same way in life; when we have balance in one aspect of our lives (work time vs. personal time, etc.) it is easier to create balance in other areas of our lives.

LT: Your paintings seem to primarily fall into the categories of either still lives or portraits. Could you discuss your interest in each category and how you see each feeding into larger themes of your artistic practice?

BS: I began working in portraiture and still life originally through etching. The themes developed in my early etchings have translated to my paintings. First and foremost, I try to make contemplative work. I like quiet art that gives the viewer the ability to study, ponder, and think. I discuss emotional/mental health a lot in my work. By nature, portraiture is easier to emote due to our ability to sympathize with animate object, whereas, in the still life, I tend to lean on metaphor and concept to discuss emotion and mental health issues I am interested in.

LT: What are you thinking about when you begin a new painting? Do you decide on a specific place or feeling to represent or do your compositions take form more organically?

BS: My goal when painting still lifes is to make the quietest painting possible. I strive to create a quiet, still, and introspective space in the picture. Some of the pieces have a rough composition in my mind before I begin taping, tying, and tacking the objects up, while other compositions are made more organically. Regardless of forethought, however, they are always composed as a mode of meditation, emulating the balance mentioned above.

Images: Photo of Brady Smith. Brady Smith. I End Up Calling (detail). Acrylic on cradled panel, 16 x 20 in. 2017. Both images courtesy of the artist.

Laura Thompson is an artist and studio programs Intern in the department of learning and engagement.

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