• Asparagus | Gouache on illustration board | Jeffrey Smith



    There is just something about asparagus — I love everything about it! I love how it tastes, the feel of it, the color, but especially how it’s sold. I’m fascinated by how it’s displayed in-store; standing up on end, bound with a beautiful, colorful rubber band. When I happened across asparagus on sale at Whole Foods, I knew I had to paint it.

    For this small painting, I wanted to play with color. I know that gouache is capable of rendering an object in great detail, but I also know that it can do an excellent job of showing one color against another and exploring the relationship of warm and color pigments — that’s what I wanted to focus on for my painting.

  • Tulips | gouache | Jeffrey Smith



    This painting began with a dinner party. I had just moved into a new apartment in downtown Minneapolis. As I was unpacking, I rediscovered a table runner that picked up several years ago. It’s a multicolor stripe woven cloth — red, green, yellow, blue orange. I knew that I wanted to have that cloth on my table when I had my parents over, and I also knew that I was going to need some flowers. I picked up a bunch of tulips, and my table was set.

    The next morning, after a wonderful evening with my parents, I ate breakfast and stared at the flowers sitting on my table. I had to paint them!

  • Sunflowers | oil on panel | Jeffrey Smith



    Sunflowers are my favorite flowers — I’ve always found them to be so cheerful and have such personality!

    Setting up for this painting, I really wanted to focus on just one flower. I decided to push the level of detail on the bloom in the upper right section of the painting. I also cropped in really close to keep the attention on the blossoms.

  • Mississippi River Sand Bar | Jeffrey Smith

    Poplars on the Mississippi River Sandbar


    This painting was created on a cloudy Sunday morning en plein air (a fancy French way of saying outside, bugs and all) near the shore of the Mississippi River, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    I love gray day. Gray days are wonderful for plein air painting — the light doesn’t change nearly as quickly as it does on a sunny day. There is also something magical that happens to colors on a gray day — thing feel a bit warmer and slightly more saturated.

  • Birch Trio | Jeffrey Smith

    Birch Trio

  • Birch Trees | Jeffrey Smith

    Birch Trees

  • Silver Jar and Green Vase | Jeffrey Smith

    Silver Jar and Green Vase


    This small still life painting was inspired by color. I wanted to create a still life that juxtaposed warm against cool colors.

    The foundation for the warm versus cool theme is laid with the warm brown in the background contrasted against the blue tabletop. Those blues reflect up into the silver canister and contrast against the warm yellow-greens of that fabulous vase.

    Using a warm studio light helps to strengthen the warm colors in the vase and adds some orange reflections to the silver canister. Positioning that studio light so it’s illuminating the set-up from above helps to emphasize the round shape of the objects.

  • Top Lit Pear | Jeffrey Smith

    Top Lit Pear


    When I was a student at The Atelier working in the main drawing room, I was fascinated with the effect that light from the skylight had on the form of whatever we were drawing.

    Nuances were much more pronounced. You could really see the fullness of curves and rounded shapes. An object that looked very flat under other lighting conditions showed that it had a lot more volume when viewed under an overhead light.

    The simple pears

    When I looked at this pear with the light coming in from the side, it looked round, simple, relatively smooth — it was a pear.

    Move the light up over the pear, and now I’m thinking of words like sculptural, statuesque, and shapely. Top lighting brings out the form as no other lighting can. It’s amazing what a change in lighting can do!