In our column, Artist File, art advisor Diana Hamm of WK ART shares the artists that have caught her eye.
The Artist:Krista Louise Smith is a Brooklyn-based artist originally from Ontario. She’s been painting and drawing for years but, a few years ago, an inflamed nerve in her right arm completely changed her oeuvre. While she once painted highly realistic and figurative paintings, she has since started painting with her left hand and has a much looser brushstroke and palette. Her latest work captures subconscious desires existing outside of our physical reality.
Krista is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe and Agnes Martin, which comes through in her treatment of color, as well as James Turrell and Doug Wheeler for their work with light. Knowing these sources of inspiration, her use of paint to render light almost becomes the subject itself.
The Work: Krista’s last exhibition, entitled Sonnets of the Subconscious, took place at Carvalho Park, a gallery in Brooklyn. The work is based on cloudscapes that seem to exist in a world of cotton-candy dreams. “I spend a lot of time looking up at the sky, but the shapes come from somewhere inside,” says Krista. “They seem to be somewhat specific to me and less specific in nature.” There’s an ethereal quality to these pieces that is both steeped in reality (or figuration at least) and completely otherworldly. Krista wants these canvases to be a form of escapism for the viewer, and in this she succeeds.
Each work’s palette is carefully thought out before she begins to paint but, beyond that, she allows her hand to work, freely painting the scene as it feels natural. She uses a variety of mediums in her works, which gives them a layered and thoughtful finish. “The work is preplanned to the extent of having established the overall composition and color,” says Krista, “but once I’m into the painting process, anything can happen because I keep my mediums — both acrylic and, later, oils — open by using water or spirits. Things start to mingle with gravity, and the thinness or thickness of the paint becomes trickier to control, which I like. I see where the paint takes me; it’s a balance of control and letting the paint do what it’s going to do.”