Teresa Smith, Featured Artist in SJI Artists’ Studio Tour
Teresa Smith will be one of the 51 featured artists opening their studios for visitors to view at this year’s San Juan Island Artists’ Studio Tour. On the tour, visitors will learn more about what the artists surround themselves with and where their art is created. It allows art collectors and buyers to purchase pieces directly from the studio of the person who created them. Also, each studio features a raffle for a piece of original art.
Studios will be open…
- Friday, June 3 from 4pm to 7pm
- Saturday, June 4 from 10am to 5pm
- Sunday, June 5 from 10am to 5pm
Teresa Smith was born in Quebec, Canada, and after visiting the San Juan Islands in the late 1980’s she fell in love and soon moved to San Juan. Teresa lived here for 14 years, and was best known for her original watercolors, cards, and calendars. In 2003, she moved to Boulder CO. with her daughters to get a fresh start after a divorce. She would stay for 14 years in Colorado, shift to oil painting, and graduate from Naropa University, in Boulder, with B.A. in Visual Arts. She returned to the San Juan Islands in July of 2015.
SJ Update intern Brook Ashcraft got a chance this week to chat with Teresa about her art…
When did you start growing your passion for art?
“I have three older sisters, and I asked them, you know, when did I drawing or painting? They said, oh you just always did. So I don’t remember where it began. I got my first set of oils when I was twelve.”
How long have you been displaying and selling your work?
“I’d say about 20 years. [My first publication was] Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. I did all the illustrations. My first husband wrote the information and we sold them in different places. That was the first thing, and the latest thing I published, was this magazine [Atmosphere by Teresa Smith, Paintings & Stories]. I’ve written some poetry in here, and I write stories that go with my artwork. I also ride horses.”
How has living in the San Juan Islands influenced your work?
“That’s a really good question because it really is everything to me. I mean, even when I was in Colorado, I painted like I lived here. I painted the island. It’s very special, magic place for me. I am very much attached to the island. I go out and take photographs, colors in the winter for instance. I love the color here. Its green, but in the winter, there are these violets, and you know, browns and golds and greens. I’m fascinated with it. I’ll have colors of a madrona on a rainy day, or how stones are brighter when they’re wet, underwater.
I write stories that apply to this place. They don’t reference my time in Colorado, I would come [to the island] to get inspired, then I’d go back there.”
Do you have any idea why you’re so drawn to this place?
“You know, I just, I feel it. In this poem I wrote called “Smell the Roses”, it references the reasons why I went away and why I came back and what draws me, I said in the story:
Smell the Roses – Teresa Smith
I wake up with my face resting on the window ledge. Nose facing out. The fragrance hits me first. A pungent aroma of wild roses and sweet smell of Hawthorn. Cat I call Tiny Tubby is curled up under my arm and Kiwi, the orange tabby is on the next pillow. Griffin, the boy Wolfhound is on the sheepskin rug by my bed and Fenwick, Wolfhound number two, is a few feet away. Two stray cats look up at my bedroom window anticipating breakfast. Stella, the black cat from up the hill will be here in a minute.
It is 5am and I can see the sun beginning to rise from behind Mount Baker. Mount Baker is my mountain. I call it that because it is the center of every room in my house. I walk in the front door and there it is. Unique everyday. Sometimes pink, sometimes blue, other times shrouded by mist.
I get up and make tea. Sun is streaming in the windows and I feel warm.
I think, write, plan, putter, sit.
I moved to Boulder Colorado in July of 2003. Newly divorced and needing a new start. Packed up a U-Haul with my 3 kids, dog, 3 cats and our stuff. Headed east. I thought I should try being a small fish in the big pond. Thought I would be happy. Thought I would find success. I hit the continental divide and cried all the way to Boulder. I didn’t stop crying until mid September. Regret, worry and hesitation hit me hard. I walked into my new suburban rental and immediately wondered how I could get back to my island. This did not feel like home. I felt completely alone surrounded by so many people. Kids were small and registered in a new Colorado school. House in Friday Harbor was rented. Nope, I was stuck. I worked my art business and taught thousands of people how to paint. I got married and divorced. I finished an art degree at a Buddhist University and I learned how to meditate. I met some wonderful people and I never stopped missing my island.
I daydreamed about the magic of the San Juans. The intoxicating smells, the colors, the drizzle and cloudy days. I dreamed about this feminine place that nurtures and embraces me. This place where friendships flourish and lovers are born. I felt as if the island wanted me too. A pull. I began a vision to get back to my home. Back to my people. Back to my tribe and my flowers, owls, eagles, quail, rabbits, foxes, little birds, deer, trees, beaches and my mountain.
July 1st 2015 I landed, full time, both feet. I am back.
And here I am, smelling the roses.
I feel like, I never forgot the island and the island wanted me back too. I would come here and feel at home. I’ve noticed there are a lot of artists here, I wonder if, as an artist, you are just drawn here, or if it’s because you get here and you just feel inspired.”
How has your experience been in the art community? With meeting other artists and seeing other work
“Well, for me, art is kind of been a lonely process, because I mean, you’re in your studio by yourself for hours. It’s not like going to a job and meeting people. A lot of its alone. I’m involved with things like the studio tour and therefore, I go out and meet other artists. Wonderful people, I love to listen to their stories, and we share ideas on shows. Everyone is very talented and open and honest. Very nice community of people, very supportive of each other.
I’m about to start up more classes. I taught a lot when I lived here before. I had students in Colorado for all 14 years. And now, I’m back and I feel it’s time to start that again, start teaching classes both in watercolors and oils, because there’s something about, you know, giving back. A lot of people really seem to want to learn how to paint.
People come to me in their 60s, 50s, even 70s and say, you know I always wanted to learn how to paint. But this teacher I had said I had no talent, and it could have been in grade 9. It’s funny how that sticks with someone, because it’s so personal. You put it out there and somebody, an authority, shoots it down. My job as a teacher is to encourage them and help them to get started.
I miss it, I developed some of my best friendships in the artist’s community through my classes, and I’m excited to start again.”
How have you been able to make a living as an artist? Any advice?
A lot of artists, we don’t just do one thing. Like, I’ll sell my oil paintings, and having a gallery or two and selling your paintings. Then, what I did for years and years, that I don’t do now, is sold the books, and calendars and cards. I also taught classes in watercolor painting.
It’s very important for me, it’s very important for me to do my art, and not go and get a job that’s outside of this. Although, it could be less hours and easier, but you know, I feel driven to do it. I enjoy my work and yes, I do get bored, and tired, but I still look forward to coming in the next day.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve made?
Teresa Smith Artist Statement
On horseback, on foot and with my wolfhounds, inspiration and motivation come from being present in the woods and near the water.
Like secret lovers, the senses and sensuality of the place with its ambiance, aesthetics and vibration provide seed for the work. If truly present I stumble upon color combinations, line, and form that I never would have conjured on my own.
My paintings are about the mystery beneath the surface, the layer woven between worlds. The romance and richness of beauty, earth, salt air, wild roses and pine needles. I paint the poetry.