I guess I’ve always been an artist, even long before I could name myself that way. As a child I was happiest in my corner making pictures and art projects; next best was exploring outdoors. I traded my cleaning chores with my brothers for the chance to tend the yard and garden.
Growing up in Milwaukee in a large working class family, “staycations” were simply the norm. Nearby parks and lakes, as well as the shores of Lake Michigan were our playgrounds. The colors, the light, the transformations of the seasons of the upper Midwest seeped into me. My enthusiasm for the landscape has been bubbling up out of me in various ways ever since.
I attended Macalester College in St. Paul, earning my degree in Fine Art, Humanities, and Education. This was followed by a decade of teaching art in Wisconsin schools and raising two creative children while making art around the edges. But it was while taking classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design that I met and fell in love with pastels and have been working nearly exclusively with them since.
For 20 years now, I have been focused on my painting career. I continue to explore ways to express the mystery and wonder I feel in the ‘school’ of nature, seeking The Divine hidden in His creation. Laying pastels over a watercolor underpainting, I have developed working methods that expand the expressive range of this versatile medium, at times using ripped and layered surfaces, textured elements and gold and copper leaf.
My paintings have been exhibited widely and featured in numerous art publications in the United States and France. They have received many regional and national awards. I am particularly honored by the recognition of my artist colleagues, having been named a Master Pastellist of le Societe des Pastellistes de France, a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, and earned Masters Circle designation in the International Association of Pastel Societies, and Distinguished Pastellist honors in the Pastel Society of New Mexico. My work hangs in public, corporate and private collections.
I feel blessed to be an artist and to be able to do this work I love. Whether painting, teaching, judging, writing I offer my work in the spirit of service.
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).