Levi Smith


Since I first began painting, more than forty years ago, I have been interested in the intersection between landscape and abstraction. My work has varied from observational painting to works drawing on memory, created in the studio.
The practice of observational painting immerses us in the intense complexities, impossibilities really, of adequately representing the visual field before us. One submits to the challenges of fidelity to what is seen.
But our experience of the landscape is not just, perhaps not even, primarily visual. We feel the landscape with all our senses. Landscapes (even the very idea of landscape) may be shaped, for us, as much by emotional valences as by the wind and weathers that pass over and through them and around us, and settle in us as memories, not so much of place, but of deep, complex feeling.
Over the past four years I have been exploring an approach that I first experimented with in the mid-1970’s, that of painting on large scale unsized, unstretched canvas with thinned acrylic paints, including unorthodox pigments such as iridescent and florescent hues, and using a variety of other media, including chalk, pastel, crayon, colored pencils, charcoal and graphite.
In these paintings the ‘clothiness’ of the canvas, the liquid nature of fluid paint, and the various surfaces, ranging from soft-brushed fabric to the matte of pastel; from the soft luster of crayon to the shimmer of graphite and metallic pigments and on to the slight creases and swags and curl of the canvas itself as it hangs, all work together with color to embody this multi-sensorial, temporal experience of landscape.
The process of making these paintings has often seemed more like tending a garden, and it has often taken nearly as long. Several of the paintings mention seasons in their titles. The seasons link these paintings to some of the earliest landscapes in the western tradition—ones that symbolize the changing seasons of the year and their allegorical relation to the ages of man. Stylistic influences include tapestries and quilts. Their functions of decoration and of sheltering are ones I hope my paintings possess as well: objects to be savored, as the places we live are: slowly, lovingly, through time.
Temple Garden
2018:Temple Garden
In Japan
2017:In Japan
2016: Island
Fall Veils
2016:Fall Veils
Summer Sound
2015:Summer Sound
Spring Dust
2015:Spring Dust
Waters and Mountains
2014:Waters and Mountains
Persian Window
2014:Persian Window
Untitled (Blue)
2014:Untitled (Blue)
The Oasis and the Island
2013:The Oasis and the Island
Cold Pond
2014:Cold Pond
Snow Cloud
201:Snow Cloud
Untitled (Gold Center)
2014:Untitled (Gold Center)
Untitled (Black, White, Orange), 2009-2011
2011:Untitled (Black, White,...
Untitled (Gray,Blue and Orange)
2008:Untitled (Gray,Blue and...
Untitled (Purple, Orange, and Gray)
2008:Untitled (Purple, Orange,...
Snow Falling in the Garden
2008:Snow Falling in the Garden
By the River
2007:By the River
Untitled (Orange and Purple)
2007:Untitled (Orange and Purple)
The Last Day of the Year, Snow
2007:The Last Day of the Year, Snow
Untitled (Dark Still Life)
2005:Untitled (Dark Still Life)
Still Life with Orange and Gray
2005:Still Life with Orange and ...
Elegy #1 ("Still Life" series)
2002:Elegy #1 ("Still Life" series)
At the Museum ("Still Life" series)
1999:At the Museum ("Still Life"...
Interior, Mexico ("Still Life" series)
1999:Interior, Mexico ("Still...
Little Still Life by the Sea ("Still Life" series)
1999:Little Still Life by the...
Mirage ("Still Life" series)
1999:Mirage ("Still Life" series)
The Couple (("Still Life" series #1)
1998:The Couple (("Still Life"...