Maître Pastelliste - Société des Pastellistes de France, IAPS-MC, PSA, PSNM-DP
Copyright © Colette Odya Smith. All rights reserved.
Colette Odya Smith is a widely-exhibited, award-winning painter, educator and juror, working primarily in soft pastels for over 20 years. Working from natural subjects, her paintings have a contemporary, almost abstract sensibility. She has been featured in newspaper stories, publications and artist magazines including American Artist, The Artist’s Magazine, Pastel Journal, and Pratique des Arts. Her recognitions include Masters Circle IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies), signature member PSA (Pastel Society of America) and Distinguished Pastelist PSNM (Pastel Society of New Mexico).
You may call my paintings landscapes, yet I intend that they are more. Whether rendered clearly or referenced obliquely, water, rocks and foliage are clearly at the foreground. Growing up in a city, into a large family, I relished all the bits of nature around me; parks, gardens, even puddles and wayward weeds in sidewalk cracks. They gave respite and made me feel attentive and thoughtful.
The longer I paint, the more I have moved from depiction into exploring why I find these subjects so beguiling. My thoughts turn to ideas of sanctuary and the mysteries of reflection, 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 and to portray the principles that give form and meaning to these compositions. They seem to be always just below the surface, literally and metaphorically. So the quest continues, chronicled in paint.
I often address these questions by closely cropping the scene or mixing sources. In this way the customary references of horizon and atmospheric perspective are lost. Easy identification is downplayed. Context and scale become malleable. This allows a broader range of interpretations and frees me to move beyond the literal. Adding to this ambiguity, I often mix reflected imagery with solid forms, 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.
Lastly, I create these paintings with pastels and watercolor and I’m charmed to be using the same elements of dust and water that I am drawn to paint.