Colette Odya Smith

My paintings are landscapes that aim to portray both inner and outer realities. Whether rendered clearly or referenced obliquely, water, rocks and foliage are clearly at the foreground. I find these subjects beguiling and beautiful and they have become the ‘doors’ through which I go exploring.

More than just depictions, the paintings are expressions of my discoveries. As I work, my thoughts turn to ideas of the invisible within what we can perceive, and I wonder about the mysteries of shape, reflection and transparency, surface and depth.  Why is appearance so transient, changing with the light or with one’s perspective, when the world is constant and enduring? What am I to make of this? What lessons are right there waiting to be learned? My quest is to learn them; to see more deeply, to appreciate and to understand.  The answers to my questions seem to be always just below the surface, literally and metaphorically.  My paintings chronicle this quest. And, since I use pastels and watercolor, I’m charmed to be using the same elements of dust and water that I am drawn to paint.

I often obscure the customary references of horizon and atmospheric perspective. In this way, easy identification of the scene is downplayed. Context and scale become malleable.    This allows a broader range of interpretations and frees me to move beyond the literal, offering the viewer opportunities to make their own discoveries. I also often mix reflected imagery with solid forms, further begging the question of what is ‘real’ and what is illusory. These are usually ‘realistic’ images, yet often appear as abstractions. I love creating passages of paint where one can get lost without concern for naming and words. The surface is available for spontaneous meandering. Free association and personal response is encouraged.

These images might be anywhere, but they are now always in my heart. I hope they speak to yours.