About Artist Richard Smith, BFA
Richard Smith is a re-patriated Vancouver Island Artist having returned to the Island after 15 years in the bustling metropolis of Vancouver. He has been living on the Island since 1993.
Richard was born in the town of Cranbrook, British Columbia, spending the first 17 years of his life as a military child living in such diverse locations as France, Quebec and Northern Alberta. As a child, he had a natural talent for art and loved drawing, painting and just making things with his hands. When the family finally settled on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, Richard finished high school and then attended Malaspina College in Nanaimo.
The Early Days
At Malaspina, he studied a number of subjects, among them drawing and sculpture. It was sculpture that interested him most. Richard then transferred to the University of Victoria, where he became a Fine Arts student, majored in sculpture, and worked primarily in steel. In 1976, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Art Takes a Back Seat But Not For Long
Taking a different path after university, he moved to Vancouver and took up a career in the entertainment industry, working in television news and production, theatre, and movies. However, the artist within kept pace, and he continued to create art, drawing and painting in different mediums. In 1992, he found himself in the advertising business working in three-dimensional display when he realized this was not where he wanted to be.
A Return to Full-Time Art and the Island
As luck would have it, a friend invited him to return to Victoria to work in a sculpture shop making architectural detail. Richard and his wife made the decision to move, packed up and were back on the Island in less than two weeks. The contract with the shop, Renaissance Studios, lasted several years, and when it was over, Richard decided to open his own business doing the same thing. This lasted several years as well, but more and more he felt himself drawn back in the realm of purely fine art sculpting.
Victoria is an artists’ haven. The less hectic and stressful lifestyle of the Island is conducive to fostering a creative atmosphere. In 1994, Richard became a member of the Vancouver Island Sculptors Guild, and is still an active member. He is also a past member of the Island Artisans Association, a juror on public art committees, and a supporter of public art through the Corporation of Saanich.
Just prior to leaving Vancouver, Richard started doing sculpture again and began working on a backyard foundry. By the time he decided to devote more time to sculpture, the foundry was operational. It was because of this small foundry that he was able to cast his pieces.
Richard has quite an eclectic body of work because of the freedom his foundry has given him to experiment. He’s always enjoyed sculpting the human form because of its volumes, twists and turns; one body but a million forms. In 2010, he was advised to focus on a more cohesive body of work, and a visit to an exhibition of one of his favorite artists, the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, gave him the influence he was looking for. With this in mind, he began a series of sculptures and matching paintings dealing with portions of the human figure.
Besides being fascinated by metal, Richard is also intrigued by glass because of its interaction with color and light. For him, glass is the halfway point between sculpture and painting. Previously, he created vibrant “paintings” with powdered glass, enamels or colored sheet glass. In this process, all the glass and enamel elements are fused together in a kiln in a temperature range of 1300 to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat melts them all together so they become one solid glass piece.
Richard has always enjoyed two-dimensional work and is currently (2014/2015) focused primarily on oil painting, although he still does sculpture. His painting is influenced by two painters from the past, the American Edward Hopper and the Italian, Giorgio de Chirico. Both used architecture to make a statement about the world they lived in.
Richard likes to think buildings are like monuments to our modern life. Sometimes it can be said architects are frustrated sculptors and sculptors are frustrated architects. Buildings are like giant works of art that people interact with to the point where they even live, work and play in them. Richard has also been studying the work of the post-impressionists, particularly Cezanne, to understand how artists made the transition from work that was pure realism into work that was more about the painter than the subject.
A Happy Life Backdrop Fuels the Creative Process
When he’s not creating art by sketching endless ideas in numerous sketch books (some dating back to 1972), sculpting or painting, Richard can be found poring over art history books, art magazines, reading science fiction pocketbooks and enjoying a good meal, movie, and a bottle of wine with his wife Kathy who is a full-time writer.