Colin Smith taught high school art, theatre, and English for 20 years. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout NB and is included in public and private collections. For 11 years, his drawings and cartoons were featured weekly in the Salon section of the Telegraph Journal. He works out of his studio in the River Art Centre in downtown Florenceville-Bristol.
Life presents me with subjects. I have drawn thousands of cartoons, and published some of them in newspapers and small publications, and many in the Salon section of the Telegraph-Journal for a decade.
The cartoon is where I started. It is a visual shorthand, stressing instant recognition, and distortion that makes things clearer. I do not draw cartoons anymore, but I love their accessibility and directness. However, they also tend to oversimplify what they draw, and that is something I have always tried to improve on.
Technically, I do big pen and ink drawings. I sketch out a lot of ideas and spend time roughing out a plan on the paper before inking. Then I work with the ink. I use metal tip dip pens and mapping pens because they give a changing line that technical pens cannot match. I like the finality of ink. Once you put a line down, it is there. This encourages concentration, improvisation, and fluidity. The paper is all part of this process, too. I use Stonehenge and rip it down to the size I use. Very tactile. If colour is needed, I use washes of coloured inks, or watercolour. On bigger drawings, I may use markers, and poured paints.
Maps are a prominent theme. I have done a suite of idiosyncratic maps, built around the world that I have loved and experienced. Currently, my maps trace journeys, real and imaginary. My drawings are usually populated with birds. I draw everything, all subjects, and situations, but somehow birds always show up. Sometimes they look like eighteenth century anatomy engravings, sometimes they are Nature or Death or Life, sometimes they represent the Wings Of Time or the Broken Heart Of The Poet, or Grief Overwhelming, but usually they are just birds. They are generally simplified and somewhat stylized. But that is the way birds are always seen, blurry in flight, and racing around the ground. So that is how I draw them. Photos show you every feather, but that is not the world.
I have a sketchbook with me always, filled with phrases, doodles, remembered quotes, and ideas. This is where all my ideas come from. I sketch pictures in books, photos on computers, shop windows, people sleeping, walking, and fighting - everything. I sketch onsite, and from memory. More and more, I sketch with my phone camera, too. It is the perfect drawing reference-it gets the general shape of things very nicely, and makes me come up with all the details myself.
Colin Smith, 2023
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