09 September 2019

III INTERNATIONAL PAINTING PLEIN AIR "VALDIS BUŠS 2019”, Vilaka, Latgale, Latvia

Semenova 2019 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100 cm. Vilaka Municipality Art Collection.

Day 7. Working on Rekova 22.07.19

Vilaka 2019 Acrylic on Canvas 100 x 100 cm. Vilaka Municipality Art Collection.

In July 2019, I was selected with five other international painters to take part in the 3rd International Plein Air at Vilaka, Latvia. The project is under the direction of Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre with curator, Māris Čačka. The Plein Air celebrates the work of the renowned Latvian painter Valdis Bušs, whose work I reference in the statement for catalogue below.



The residency was short and intensive with other international painters, something I have not done before as usually it is with artists from different disciplines. It is international and competitive for selection, so the work produced was varied and critically robust (each participant has to leave at least two works for the collection; all left more than four). Different approaches to painting furthered ideas for location based practice and further network.


Rekova 2019 Acrylic on Canvas 50 x 50 cm. Vilaka Municipality Art Collection.



Catalogue Statement: 
Painting has led me to many locations and places. The region around Vilaka is striking in rich abundance of nature and it has provided a fertile environment in which to work Plein Air. We were introduced to the work of Valdis Buss and I was struck with the immediacy and vibrancy of his paintings. We have had good quality and plentiful acrylic paints and canvasIt is always exciting to use new paints and here I have used silver for the first time as a pictorial colour (continued)


Balvi 2019 Acrylic on Canvas 50 x 50 cm. Vilaka Municipality Art Collection.
Day 7. Working on Semenova 22.07.19


My recent work has been evolving through location based practice and the desire for a more expressive and perhaps less controlled method that allows the material to lead the way in the construction of an image. Through the idea of ‘scapes’, paintings attempt to respond to Place, and involve multi-sensory perception. We have seen so much of the local culture and the experiences of sight, sound and atmosphere are from the food, landscape, music and song. Attempting to resonate with this experience is a large part of the drive in these four paintings.  


Vilaka in progress

Vilaka in progress

Rekova in progress

Rekova in progress

Semenova in progress


Semenova in progress







11 August 2019

Chiang Mai Studies - March to May 2019

Building on practice that explores the way Place influences language of painting, this series of 24 studies are reflective on travel through Indonesia and Thailand.
Each painting acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm.








Social media comment on the city of Bangkok, January 2019:

'Bangkok is a city of opposites. Religion and State are everywhere. It is hot and humid with a hazy diffused sunlight. Orange marigolds are on every street at Buddhist Wat, contrasting with the greys of streets stained with pollution. The city has no centre, it is one big sprawl and bus journeys take an hour and a half in the choking traffic. Museum of Comtemporary Art played music and had no contemporary art. Queens gallery, better but traditional imagery permeates. It was the BAC Bangkok Art Biennale that saved the day at the Bangkok Culture Centre, with engaging works and a floor of performance stages each with video documentary. City wide works impossible to locate. The 1km mural of Ramayana at the Grand Palace best traditional work..stunning. A city of opposites.








My methodology of working on location is defined as creating ‘scapes’ (involving multiple facets of a subject) evolved through both exploratory studies and in the production of a definitive project portfolio (for exhibition or presentation). The new approach to thinking is defined by the response to Place: how different cultures perceive visual themes, particularly colour. My interest is broad and includes ecological, geopolitical and cultural indicators of Place.







07 December 2018

Light, Surface and Colour: Sauerbier House A.i.R. Practice Post #8

Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm


The final two large paintings were resolved over several days whilst working on the series as a whole. I felt intense involvement at this stage of the project and felt instinctively as it progressed, that the work had gone somewhere. Whether that remains to be seen is of course another matter as only time can tell if a painting is worth anything at all. I knew when I started this series and particularly the two larger paintings that I had again, whilst working on this residency, put myself at a place of unknown destination. Maybe it comes with a desire to make the best work one has ever made, exceed previous. When I started the residency and again when I began the paint studies, there is a trepidation; it is the unknown. This element of 'what on earth am I doing' has to be there otherwise you are not really painting anything worth while at all.



River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm








detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail River Dream 2018 acrylic on canvas 75 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm

detail Grand River 2018 acrylic on canvas 100 x 100 cm



Blanch Point 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm



Ngankipari 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm


 Perkana 2018 acrylic on canvas 35 x 45.5 cm



Blewit Springs 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm



Willunga 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm



Tuit Yellow2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm



Ngaltinga 2018 acrylic on canvas 20.5 x 25.5 cm



Exhibition statement:

Light, Surface and Colour

Evolved in direct response to the Onkaparinga River
estuary, this series of ‘scape’ paintings explore through
colour, ways of seeing and recalling landscape.

In preparation for the Sauerbier House artist in residence program,
Smith arrived with a number of agendas. These included exploring
landscape and place, the use of acrylic paint and the possibilities of
joint creative intervention. Connections and contrasts to his home
region of North Wales and particularly the place of Llanfairfechen, the
original name of Sauerbier House, made for a potent mix of contexts
from which to embark.

Working at Sauerbier House for the focussed and uninterrupted
residency, the Ngangkiparri River and the Willunga Basin facilitated a
new departure in Smith’s painting. Visual exploration evolved from
‘looking at’ to a focused studio based enquiry, assimilating experiences
of being on, moving over and thinking about place in relation to
making. Although familiar with a home national park landscape, the
challenge to respond to Sauerbier House and the surrounding areas
over three months has resolved new departures.

For Smith, this series of ‘scapes’, (involving multiple facets of
landscape) evolved through both exploratory studies, (an approach
which is different and challenging in terms of previous investigations)
and in the production of a definitive exhibition. The work developed
through specific stages; objective drawing on site, to look and
familiarise, larger charcoal studies of trees and rocks seen in the
Onkaparinga River National Park and finally, deconstruction of form to
get the essence of place. Materially, the study sheets (series of 9)
contributed to developing a greater understanding of the acrylic paint
colour systems. This in turn has led to a series of smaller paintings
produced on canvases brought across from Wales and the two larger
works painted on surfaces selected on site.

Crucial to the new series, Smith reached a point in his investigations
where he desired a greater flexibility in the handling of both paint and
form. In embracing the Australian acrylic paint systems, varying in
viscosity, spectrum and value, inclusive of fluorescent hues and by
applying less overt geometry in the realisation of a work, this vision was
accomplished. The final paintings on canvas demonstrate the shift of
Smith’s painting language to show new levels of vibrancy and
expressive application.

Painting small and large, on the floor and wall, and at all times in
series, (working on all paintings at the same time), the conclusive
‘scapes’ have evolved as a definitive statement on Smith's experience 
of place through colour, surface and light.


Review of nine 35 x 45.5 cm paintings riverside veranda 26.11.18


Supported by an International Opportunities Fund Grant from Wales Arts International


26 November 2018

Light, Surface and Colour: Sauerbier House A.i.R. Practice Post #7

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan




The main and concluding series of paintings on canvas are designed to push my practice boundaries within a two fold reasoning. Firstly, to respond to the opportunity of a three month block of uninterrupted studio time (as an international resident regular routine is left behind) enabling an unusually focused time to concentrate only on the work in progress but also because crucially to the new series made during the residency, I had reached a point in my practice desiring a greater flexibility in the handling of paint and form with less overt geometry in realisation.







Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

The final works were to be made on the 19 canvases that I had brought with me from Wales and two further selected here in Noarlunga, all with basic standard pre-primed and ready to go surfaces. The 19 are in two sizes 20.5 x 25.5cm (9 canvases) and 35 x 45.5cm (ten canvases) with the two larger at 100cm square and 75 x 100cm. The square size is inherently challenging presenting four equal sides.

Photograph by Suzanne Mustan

The Australian acrylic paint systems used here has included varying paints of viscosity, spectrum and value including some fluorescent hues. The final paintings on canvas demonstrate the shift of my painting language to new levels of vibrancy and expressive application. The series of ‘scapes’(involving multiple facets of landscape) has evolved with the task of making new exploratory work, different and challenging in terms of previous, yet also to make a definitive exhibition. I feel also the process may have compounded future directions for my painting practice.





Initial paint application was to put down a base colour and get a feel for the canvas. The fluidity of the paint is noticeable yet pigment intensity high. (See previous post for further paint analysis) They work well with the canvases that are basic standard pre-primed surfaces.










Supported by an International Opportunities Fund Grant from Wales Arts International