The im­pres­sion­ist: Ne­dra Smith

Rappahannock News - - COUNTRYSIDE - By RogeR Piantadosi Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

After a 20-year ca­reer as an art direc­tor in the D.C. area, Rap­pa­han­nock County artist Ne­dra Smith re­turned some 13 years ago to her first loves — plein air and stu­dio paint­ing, as well as the Vir­ginia Pied­mont where she spent many years as a child — and quickly earned a name for her­self with the Amer­i­can Im­pres­sion­ist So­ci­ety and her many pa­trons.

Smith is pro­filed in the third of six “Artists of Rap­pa­han­nock” video, part of a se­ries ex­plor­ing the sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship of art and na­ture in Rap­pa­han­nock.

“For years I did not pur­sue paint­ing,” says Smith. “I’d al­ways promised my­self that I would be able to paint when I didn’t have to make a liv­ing at it . . . . It’s been a dream for me.”

Though she and hus­band Hugh Smith, a re­tired fi­nan­cial in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive, still look after their large post-re­tire­ment pro­ject — a 40,000-square-foot an­tiques em­po­rium in Florida — Smith cred­its the devel­op­ment of her re­mark­able tal­ent to be­ing able to make so many field trips — from just down the un­paved road from home near Bat­tle Run, to the Grand Canyon, Europe and

(most re­cently, with Hugh) the African bush. She also cred­its the work­shops she’s taken over the last decade with some of the coun­try’s best artists (in­clud­ing Kevin Macpherson, Scott Chris­tensen, Wil­liam Schneider, Carolyn An­der­son, Roger Dale Brown and Wil­liam Wood­ward).

In the video, Smith talks about how plein air paint­ing — which in­volves you and your paints and easel be­ing out in the el­e­ments for hours — in­forms all types of paint­ing: “Aside from plein air paint­ing just be­ing won­der­ful, be­ing out in na­ture,” she says, “it’s what it brings to your stu­dio paint­ings, and your un­der­stand­ing of light and depth, that’s just vi­tal.”

Whether it’s plein air or the other gen­res she en­joys, in­clud­ing por­trai­ture, fig­u­ral and still life, Smith says: “To me there’s just a lot of in­cred­i­ble plea­sure in paint­ing . . . and it’s be­cause you’re taken into the world of your paint­ing . . . into the world of your sub­ject. And . . . then, hope­fully at the end, if the paint­ing turns out de­cent, it’s like a Christ­mas present!”

This video se­ries was un­der­writ­ten by the Clau­dia Mitchell Arts Fund of the Rap­pa­han­nock As­so­ci­a­tion for Art and Com­mu­nity — which, by the way, holds its an­nual Artists of Rap­pa­han­nock Stu­dio and Gallery Tour (visit for more), to be held this year on Nov. 4-5. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to meet some of the artists pro­filed in this se­ries, and get a first-hand look at their works.



Artist Ne­dra Smith re­turned some 13 years ago to her first loves — plein air and stu­dio paint­ing.

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