I'm so excited to announce my latest "Art of Conversation" interview with Louisiana-based artist Lauren Smith. If you're new to the blog, this series is where I highlight other emerging female artists whose work I find inspiring! I love delving into their backgrounds and learning how they began their art careers.
I first connected with Lauren on Instagram where we began following each other a few years ago, and we have both been represented by some of the same gallery partners over the years. Lauren and I met in real life this past September at The Southern C Summit in Roundtop, Texas.
Lauren’s pieces are a creative mix of her love for interior design and background in graphic arts. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, Lauren acquired an understanding of fine arts during her studies, combined with the intense precision of graphic arts. It was during that time that Lauren fell in love with color theory and attaining the perfect balance that make the colors and forms in her works sing. Lauren’s pieces draw inspiration from the life she shares with her husband, Jonathan, and their three children in North Louisiana.
I hope you love learning about Lauren!
1. I’m so excited to chat with you! I have admired your work from afar, and loved meeting in person in Round Top in September. Tell me how you initially became an artist?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be on your blog! Wasn't Round Top such a great experience? I really cannot wait to go again.
Growing up, I always assumed that because I couldn't sit down and draw a sketch of a person's face or really any realistic subject matter, that I wasn't artistic. My mom pushed me to take an art class my senior year of high school and I really developed a love for art then. I learned that the word, art, meant so many things and could be so many things. It wasn't just about drawing a sketch of an object and it looking accurate. So, I went to Louisiana Tech University and majored in Graphic Arts. Our core curriculum included fine art classes, figure drawing, color theory, oil painting and art history. I even took a pottery class that I was absolutely terrible at. I learned to work with different mediums and push my own boundaries. Sometimes being forced out of your comfort zone in pursuit of a good grade is just what you need to find out what you're capable of doing.
However, I really didn't explore art as a career until after my third child was born. I had been doing local freelance interior design work for friends and friends of friends and that was growing by word of mouth, but throwing a third child in the mix made me rethink my time away during the day. I knew I wanted to be at home with my newborn but I also needed a creative outlet. I pulled out my brushes and canvases and attempted to create something that I thought people might be interested in putting in their homes.
2. How would you describe your style of art?
Whimsical, bright and colorful and not too serious. But with my ink washes, I enjoy using restraint and creating something beautiful and restful to the eye. I think it's important when designing a room to bring in elements of calmness and give your eye a place to land that is interesting, but isn't overwhelming. I love that my two opposing styles can live cohesively in the same room without being too much.
3. When did you know you were on to something with your artwork?
I really just jumped out there with an Instagram page and closed my eyes and hoped for the best. It was really scary to put myself out there. Slowly but surely I gained more followers and my friends and acquaintances supported me and bought things for their homes. Everyone was so encouraging. When Laurie Gautreau with Gautreau Gallery reached out to me about having my first art show and carrying my work it was definitely surreal. Her taste is refined and traditional but she has an edge too and my work can find a home with her design aesthetic. I will always be grateful to her for taking a chance on me. Also, Sarah Hargrave with The Collective Dallas reached out and carried my work. She is an inspiration and I love everything she touches. Talk about a breath of fresh air, her store is one that makes me want to move in and live in it! Sarah's designs are so fresh and chic, she always knows what's coming next in the design world and she delivers!
4. Where do you find your inspiration?
I'm always inspired by a color balance or composition balance. I'm usually more interested in the composition of a piece than the subject matter. My background being in graphic design adds an interesting element to my pieces. Graphic arts are painstakingly precise and so that's always lingering in my subconscious. I'm not happy with a piece until it feels balanced, either in composition or in color. My pieces are whimsical and happy but there's an underlying order that makes them feel calm.
5. How has your art style evolved over the years?
I feel like I've really found my groove. I have learned what my art 'voice' is and when you see my work you know it's mine. That was really my goal. I was pushed by a dear friend to try and figure out what Lauren Smith's art looked like instead of trying to mimic what was popular on social media. I have evolved in my confidence and my voice but I feel like my work has stayed pretty consistent and true to who I am as an artist. If anything my pieces get looser or tighter depending on my mood and what's going on in my life at the time. I have a physiological response when I'm painting and typically that's when I know a painting is finished. It all lands just right somehow in the end and it makes my pulse quicken. It's the craziest thing! That rush always leaves me coming back for more!
6. Tell me about one exciting project you’ve worked on in recent years?
I have had a few pinch me moments that I can think of so narrowing it down to one is hard for me. Each time I have a release with The Collective it is always exciting. I think I'm on my ninth release with them and it definitely never gets old. Creating something for The Beaufort Bonnet Company market showroom was such a full circle moment for me. We have three children and I've always dressed them in their beautiful clothing. Kristen Light with Sissy Light reached out to me and showed a few pieces of my work in her hat shop at Round Top. That was a fun project, she and Kristen Bader are so cool and kind so showing my pieces in their space gave me a few cool points by default. I also loved partnering with Well + Wonder this past December.
7. Describe your process - where do you paint and what does a typical day in the studio look like?
It always depends on the day. With small children at home, the target is constantly moving. Some days I get to spend a quiet morning in my studio and paint while listening to a morning devotional or an audio book. Other times I'm at the dining room table with art supplies strewn about because I need to work and the children need me to be where they are living life. Being flexible is an absolute must. I also try to go to the gym at least three days a week after they are at school and before I begin my day. It helps so much with everyday stress and clearing my head.
8. What do you do to get out of a rut and push yourself past a block?
Sometimes the best thing is to step away. For me, art has been a release and a special place for me to express myself. When it stops feeling that way I have to take a break. Usually a date night with my husband or lunch with the girls is just the distraction I need. The creative process is something I can't force.
9. What is a goal you’d like to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
I just pray everyday for God to lead this little venture where he wants it to go. I keep putting one artist foot in front of the other and waiting until He opens the doors for me to my next adventure. So far, it's been more than I could've imagined. God exceeds my expectations everyday! Being a Well + Wonder artist has been a goal I set for myself when I first began that is being realized in the coming months. It feels good.
10. I know you’re also a mom to young kids - how do they inspire your artwork?
More than anything, they inspire me to follow my dreams. I want to show them that they can find a way to do something that fulfills their soul. I pray that my husband and I are teaching them to aim high, be humble and have a strong work ethic. They are also great cheerleaders. They tell me when they like a painting I create and help me give them titles. I love that!
11. What do you like to do when you’re not painting?
If I'm not painting, I am carpooling! Both of our boys play competitive baseball so we spend a lot of family time at the ballpark, lessons and practices. Most of the time I am burning up the roads in Shreveport getting all kids where they need to be. When I actually do have downtime I love to work on my personal home decor. Using new fabrics and moving art and furniture around my home definitely fills my cup.
12. Favorite place to travel?
We have a farm just south of where we live but it’s just far enough away to feel like we are in another world. We love to spend time there enjoying each other and enjoying nature. Time moves slowly at the farm and that is a wonderful change of pace. We also spend time every summer in Alabama at the beach. It is a time where we can truly relax and enjoy time together as a family. It’s the perfect place to unplug and get inspired.
13. Where can people find your work?
14. Finally, what is one piece of advice you’d like to give other artists who are just getting their start?
Just start. Start and keep going. Everyday do one thing that moves you forward. Find your voice and figure out what unique gift God gave you and chase it!