Peter Smith can pinpoint the precise time and place when he realised that his future would be that of an artist. Christmas, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Smith hadnít visited a clairvoyant; he had in fact just received a Christmas present that would set this prediction/prophecy in motion. A small black and white book of illustrations entitled; ĎThe Magic Painterí. Although the book didnít come with any watercolours, oils or acrylics attached, it did boast its own paintbrush. But what made the book extra special was that it encouraged the recipient to paint the pages themselves with water, and as a direct outcome the colours appeared as if by magic. Obviously this novelty painting kit was usurped by a slightly more adult-themed version, and with this new, compact watercolour paint set a young Smith ventured out into the big wide world to capture what he witnessed for all to see. This amounted to just about everything, including cats, dogs and people.
Born in Mansfield in 1967, it was clear from this early age that Smith would follow an artistic line, given his penchant for painting and drawing. Encouraged at school, Smithís artwork was submitted in several art competitions, and the future bode well. However like most things in life, things didnít go entirely to plan for Smith on departing his educational background, and like many budding artists his path to creative fame and fortune didnít quite follow a necessarily conventional route. Architect and computer programmer are of course respected and sought after professional positions, yet neither were written in the stars for Smith, as he slowly edged his way toward the career promised land. One particular role that followed did point to a brighter, more traditionally artistic future, that being the assuming of a designer/illustrator role within the fashion industry, where Smith collaborated with multimedia heavyweights, Disney, Fox, Universal, Lucas Films and the BBC on a collection of projects.
It wasnít until 2005 that Smithís professional art career received the shot in the arm that it needed after he approached the UKís leading fine art publisher, Washington Green Fine Art, enquiring as to whether or not theyíd be interested in showcasing his creative work and therein putting his compositions in the public eye for the very first time on that sort of grand scale. To date, Smith had been self-publishing with mixed results. Thankfully Washington Green saw the potential and commercial possibilities in Smithís work, and they offered him a deal; which gave Smith the confidence to leave his secure job of 16 years and see where this new venture would take him.
Having that spell of employment in the fashion industry under his belt meant that Smith possessed an impressive appreciation of form and colour, so when fused with contemporary living imagery resulted in bold and vibrant visual art that would appeal to a wide audience. Expanding on the multitude of initial sketches and rudimentary illustrations he makes, Smith then spends the next four weeks on average producing the finished piece on a larger canvas scale, proportionate with how he saw the composition panning out from the outset. The eventual dimensions of his studies then afford the visual interpretation the depth, clarity and an overall style thatís difficult to stereotype as a genre, yet steadfastly accessible.
A deft use of quirkiness here and a dash of surrealism there are never found more than an inch or two away from a token Smith composition, and therefore it should surprise nobody to learn that the artist was and is a life-long fan of two of the greatest exponents of each style Gospel. Will Bullas milking the plaudits on the quirky front, while Salvador Dali takes a bow for surrealism. Each mindset and identifiable approach to the canvas indicative of Bullas and Dali are prominent throughout the laboured characterising of all of Smithís colourful, humourous studies, while the inventory of the everyday mundane and extraordinariness of folk is equally as important to Smithís individual creative reckonings. People who pass him by at street level, the absurdity of curricular situations that become apparent and flashings of human idiosyncratics are effectively layered by bold colours and bewildering concepts, all of which strive to deliver the finished visual article seen here, here and here.