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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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  • “Shades of Blue”Shades of Blue

    24"x24" Pastels over watercolor. Here I am caught in the lush beauty in the watery shadows again.

  • “Leafy Infusion”Leafy Infusion

    20"x20" Pastels over watercolor. Exploring the shadows in the waters of the Northwest.

  • “Lavish Light”Lavish Light

    20"x20" Pastel over watercolor. My take on the dappled light beneath New Mexico cottonwoods.

  • “Apparition”Apparition

    24"x24" Pastels over watercolor. Taking on the mysteries of surface and depth.

  • “Waterborne #1”Waterborne #1

    This painting is 30"x30" and is created with pastels over watercolor on 4 ply museum board. It is based on photographs taken of a clear spring near Ashland, WI. It was a whole world unto itself.

Colette Odya Smith

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artist bio

Colette Odya Smith works primarily in soft pastels to create her intimate landscapes that skirt the edge of realism and abstraction. A former art teacher, she is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, the Pastel Society of New Mexico, Landscape Artists International, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the League of Milwaukee Artists. She has received numerous awards in national exhibitions, and has had her work featured in The Pastel Journal, International Artist (formerly Pastel Artist International), Pratique des Arts and American Artist magazines. She served as a juror for The Pastel Journal Pastel 100 and is a contributor to the book Painting Sunlight and Shadows with Pastels by Maggie Price.

She is represented by the Frank Howell Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, the Katie Gingrass Gallery in Milwaukee, and Woodwalk Gallery in Door County, WI

Ms. Smith lives in Wauwatosa, WI, where she enjoys gardening, community involvement, and from which she strikes out when she can to indulge her love of travel.

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artist statement

My work is landscape based, yet not quite traditional. The images are usually closely cropped and edited to remove references of horizon and atmospheric perspective commonly dealt with in landscape. This creates issues of scale and interpretation, forcing the viewer to focus on composition rather than identification. I often mix reflected imagery with solid forms, begging the question of what is “real” and what is illusory. These are “realistic” images, yet often appear as abstractions.

My ‘intimate landscapes’ as I call them, are filled with the stuff that once occupied the lower, nearly throwaway corners of grand history paintings. The water and stones beneath the feet of heroes and saints have come to center stage for me yet feel just as eloquent and just as evocative. What we see there depends on how we choose to look at it. For me, it’s about what’s going on just beneath the surface, literally and metaphorically.
I am asking what principles underlie nature and give it its forms. And I am asking what this underlying structure has to do with us.

By creating with pastels and watercolor, I am charmed to be using the same elements of dust and water that I am drawn to paint.