Andrea J. Smith’s new body of work was recently exhibited at Australian Galleries, Derby Street.
Andrea was a guest artist at Melbourne Art Class in 2013, discussing her art and work practices such as the use of the “sight size” technique.
Knowing how she creates her works allowed me to examine the paintings in her exhibition with a more attuned eye and not just simply be overawed by her skill.
Andrea trained in the use of traditional oil painting techniques used by the old masters at the Florence Academy, which is evident in her work.
Every portrait and still life has a strong illusionary quality. When standing afar, you may think you are peering in to a Mediterranean kitchen, with plump, bold tomatoes, eggplants and persimmons playing the characters on weathered surfaces and rusted metal.
However, when you get closer to the paintings, you can see playful brushstrokes skilfully placed to give a slight sheen to the skin of fruit, or the crispness to a lemon leaf.
Andrea has explored combinations of complimentary colours in her still life works,Composition of blue and orange,Composition of red and green.The colours do not seem to be the focus of these still lifes however, as they do not dominate her limited palette.
The portraits in her exhibition all have a haunting quality to them. Her subjects stare at you, illuminated by the gold leaf surrounding them; they almost float towards you.
These paintings have bolder colours, yet retain the soft, almost dusty light that Andrea captures in her still lifes.
She also has a number of landscape paintings in her exhibition, which appear to be painted more freely than the other works.
A looseness and energy to her brushwork is evident, where only a few brush strokes suggest sky, or grass, giving her work a real freshness and freedom compared to her still lifes.
These landscapes are some of her latest works; perhaps we are seeing a shift of Andrea’s technique?