Clinton Art Society Member Sandra E. Smith Explains "Plein Air"

This landscape oil painter focuses on creating, exhibiting and giving back.


Artist Sandra E. Smith, who is exhibiting her paintings at the Killingworth Library, Liberty Bank in Clinton, and soon at Lyme Art Association’s Annual Associate Artist Exhibition, can't remember a time when she wasn't interested in creating something ... drawing, painting, needlework, doll making, dancing, singing, acting, and playing the piano. 

“My family on both sides is right-brained, and my artistic mother always encouraged my creativity.  You name an art project, and I've done it!” Smith says.

Well known as a “plein air” landscape oil painter, Smith maintains a studio in Killingworth, where she is also a resident.  A graduate of Quinnipiac University, she has studied classical painting techniques from New England’s popular instructors: Terri Oakes Bourret, Diane Aeschliman, Karen Winslow, Gabor Svagrik, and William Duffy.  Prior to becoming a “painter of nature” many years ago, Smith competed on a national level with her original appliqué designed quilts winning many national awards, including the Connecticut winner of the Great American Quilt Contest.

Her mother said that when she was only two, Smith took all the Christmas cards, sat in a corner looking at them over and over, and would not let anyone else look at them.  History is another great interest of Smith’s, “and most times I find myself unconsciously creating something with a story behind it,” she said.

Smith used to compete nationally making "art quilts," but eventually developed arthritis in her hands.  Artist friend Jay Folger encouraged her to take up plein air painting.  Smith says, “That was easy for me, because when we moved to Killingworth in 1969 (known as the "Wild West" back then), I fell in love with the disappearing landscape.  I've been trying to paint it ever since.”

She’s not particularly interested in the marketing that every artist, she says, should be involved in. “I just love painting scenes that tell a story ... whether it be the disappearance of our beautiful landscape, a story about my family, or recording modern local history."

Smith’s landscape paintings have won several awards in juried art shows and are found in private collections all across the country.

An elected member of the Madison Art Society and Clinton Art Society, Smith always seems to be in an art show somewhere in the area.  She has a solo show at Liberty Bank in Clinton, will soon be exhibiting at Lyme Art Association, and is featured at the Killingworth Library for the months of December and January. 

The exhibition at Killingworth Library includes paintings of Killingworth barns, a painting of Reservoir Road just after the October 2011 snowstorm, a painting of Chatfield Hollow, and one of Parmelee Farm. There is also a painting of Killingworth's Millennium Christmas tree which went to Rockefeller Plaza (still the tallest tree Rockefeller has ever had). And, there's a painting of her neighbor's chickens being surprised on Easter morning.


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