Maxine Smith has been painting for over eighteen years. Her sense of detail, color choices and subjects are truly phenomenal. Maxine works in both oil and acrylic paint. Maxine Smith’s work is personal and intimate and she has accomplished what great artists do; she evokes emotion, thought, and meaning through her work. Her paintings are stylized. Gemma Magazine recently had the fantastic opportunity to attend her most recent exhibition at The Skidmore Contemporary Galley in Los Angeles, and the portraits featured embody warmth, color, and human faces that all have stories to tell. They can be the artist’s stories or the viewer’s stories. That is up to you. However, one look at her work, and it will resonate within.
Maxine Smith feels her lifetime love of color and design gave her great appreciation of art. Smith took classes intermittently in her 30’s and 40’s at The Art Students League in New York. After relocating to Los Angeles and resuming her love of painting, her particular style began to emerge. At this point, Smith took a sharp turn into the world of working professionally as an artist. Smith’s works are now in several private collections, and she has participated in gallery shows in New York City, East Hampton, and Los Angeles.
One of the most recent compilations is her work from her “AT YOUR SERVICE” series, which continues her essential exploration of the human face. If you think about it, the face is a very personal element and can be perceived by an artist in many different ways. While visiting her exhibition, I had the opportunity to speak with Maxine Smith. On behalf of Gemma Magazine, I honestly have to say Maxine is one of the kindest and most gracious artists I have ever interviewed. Maxine also has a great sense of style and is very individual in her choices.
GM: It is incredible to meet you in person. As I look around the room at your beautiful exhibition, it’s filled with colorful and surprising portraits of strangers yet they are mesmerizing. Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?
MS: I was not aware of it back then but I started by copying Keene portraits at the age of 16. This ignited my passion but eventually, my interest turned to interior design and that became my career path, one I was fortunate enough to have.
GM: How did your career in interior design start?
I was living in London at the time in a flat that I decorated. There is a designer I adored named Zandra Rhodes, who is London based. I designed our home using dress designer Zandra Rhodes fabrics for walls and upholstery and it was a first for both of us. The flat ended up being photographed for British Vogue by photographer Richard Clarke. This started my career as a designer.
GM: What elements inspire you as an artist and how would you describe your art?
My portraits become real people to me and therefore are similar to characters that are my friends. They may start as strangers but take on a deeper meaning. I work from both live models and photographs. Only recently did I realize I was painting through the use of fabric, color, and pattern. That was my signature.
GM: Strangers, correct, inspire all of your portraits? (people you notice restaurants, stores, etc.?)
Yes! I’m an observer of sorts and enjoy people watching. Sometimes there is something in the face of a person that attracts me. “There is always a certain something that draws me to the subject. That is how the painting process begins.”
GM: I especially enjoy “At Your Service” where you feature portraits of a bellman, a housekeeper, and a chef to name a few. There is something so mundane, yet potent in these. Can you expand?
In my series “AT YOUR SERVICE,” I’ve created portraits of people who don’t often have the opportunity to be painted. It’s a collection of images of people working in the service industry. The Housekeeper and The Bellman exemplify this approach through the careful clarification of details and use of limited palettes. These are people who press our suits and iron our clothes but so often go unnoticed and unappreciated. This series gave them their moment.
Overall, Maxine’s art makes you think and that is what authentic art is about. Maxine’s work is a beautiful combination of artistry, talent, and the human connection. Gemma Magazine is looking forward to her next exhibition and cannot wait to attend again.
“I hope that the viewer feels some emotion when they look at the portraits I’ve created…a smile, a question, a thought…something that makes them linger.” (Maxine Smith)
To follow Maxine Smith on her social platforms, here are her links.