The first Colette Odya Smith painting I had the pleasure of encountering was at the International Association of Pastel Societies’ juried exhibition in 2009. In this rarefied atmosphere Smith’s painting stood out from the start. Everything was right in “Wishing You Well.” The artist had found a magical subject in a slice of nature and interpreted it in a beautiful fusion of realism and abstraction. Viewers were transported to the side of a stream, enrapt by the clear water, the reflection of a multi-hued sky, organic patterns of leaves, branches and their shadows, and a color design balanced between fidelity to nature and willingness to augment for aesthetic impact. The painting received a major award, one of more than 30 that have honored Smith in over 100 juried exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, and France during the first 20 years of her career. Every Smith pastel I have seen since that show has all the marks of greatness: a composition almost choreographic in its fluid grace, a magnetic color design, aesthetic harmony, and a suffusion of energetic peace. A recurring aspect in Smith’s work is the astute variability in how she weighs realism and abstraction to a perfect equilibrium. She navigates seasons, lands, and waters in her paintings with a strong and gentle sensibility that honors mystery and mood. Every painting by Colette Odya Smith rewards viewers again and again.
Wolfgang Mabry Fine Art Consultant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe,NM
Excerpt from “The Beautiful and the Sublime” Katie Gingrass Gallery and Kant: A Philosophical Analysis of “Au Naturel”
In a truly Kantian spirit, Colette Odya Smith expressed her intent to “move between abstraction and representation to show different viewpoints” through her rich pastel interpretations of the natural world. Her works, Drifting, Rich Remains and Cast Lose, which she described as being “inspired by God’s viewpoint” enveloped one in a sea of blueness. Upon continued observation, the subject matter came into view. In Drifting, after a few stunned moments of looking at what seemed to be abstraction, part of a tree revealed itself. If Kant’s aesthetic theory tells us that a work of art should depict nature – and do so in a way that renders it as distinctly artistic without overwhelming us with its technique – then no work could better exemplify this than Drifting. The technique is obviously very well developed – there is no question – but the technique never takes over the work, you never get the sense that you are merely looking at a technically proficient nature scene, but rather are temporarily lost in a delicate unfolding of the environment that is as interpretative as it is accurate.
Excerpt from “Aqua Bella” and more at the Delafield Arts Center
Leaves, logs, rocks, water – whether still or swirling – become layered patterns in her colorful pastel paintings. Without a horizon for an anchor her perspectives become ambiguous and disorienting. The imagery has equal parts earthiness and mystery, suggestive of a transcendent, perhaps spiritual presence.
Eddee Daniel ARTS WITHOUT BORDERS Weblog
Straddling the line between landscape and abstraction, pastel artist Colette Odya Smith’s works are as much meditations on strong lines and pools of color as they are unique windows on the world. With the natural world as her starting point, Smith brings ambiguity and power to the patterns and sense of scale found in nature. Smith is one of five artists who now has work on view in the “Light & Texture - Drawings in Pastel” exhibition at the Katie Gingrass Gallery, 241 N. Broadway. Smith, a local artist whose work I like quite a lot, has a number of new pieces in the show, including smaller works that feature a patch of sky. The best, though, are the trio of works which have us hovering over a turquoise pool of water. Smith is at her best when she allows the sense of scale and particulars in her landscapes to drift toward ambiguity.
Mary Louise Schumacher: Art City Weblog Milwaukee Journal Sentinel visual arts writer
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).