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 Linda Kyser Smith  (1949 - )

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Lived/Active: New Mexico      Known for: portrait, still life, landscape, figure

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
For Linda Kyser Smith, the process of painting is an endless and ineluctably rewarding cycle of learning and teaching. Although she has a rich academic background, most of her education in the fine arts has taken place outside the university, in the studios of some of the finest artists in the nation.

Her method is simple: Find those you admire most, then "do everything you can to study with them." And once you've developed to the point that you have something to offer others, share your deepest and best as a teacher to the other students of the craft.

This approach has taken Smith far. Although she has been interested in art all her life, only the past ten years have been devoted completely to a career in painting. Her portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes are now found in fine galleries throughout the United States. Portraits hang in private collections in North America, Europe, Japan and Indonesia. Frequently juried into major art shows throughout the country, she is a signature and three-time award winner in the Pastel Society of America and also a member of the Salmagundi Club in New York, the oldest art organization in that state.

This list of accomplishments bespeaks a serious artist with firm mastery of her craft. What it fails to describe, however, is the energy, compassion, and sense of fun she possesses. As she relates her journey toward becoming an accomplished professional, her conversation is sprinkled with down-home observations, womanly wisdom and much laughter.

A Texas native and resident of Dallas for many years, Smith found her earliest experiences as an artist less than rewarding. Although she was always inclined toward art and took painting and drawing classes in junior high and high school, her post-secondary education left much to be desired. "Art courses on the college level were very unsatisfying," she reminisces. "Abstract Expressionism was the be all, end all.

"I had one class, and the instructor (who was never there)- when she was there, she simply couldn't say enough about the guy who did the same tennis shoe over and over. One day, I took my daughter to class and painted her portrait. This instructor read me the riot act and demanded, "Don't you ever, ever paint a portrait in my class again. "Which was pretty funny," she confides, "because the final she assigned was a self-portrait. I decided after that I'd better make my own way.

This included earning bachelor's and master's degrees in English and French, respectively, teaching for several years in the public schools and, she jokes, selling drugs for ten years. All perfectly legal, though, she confesses: she was a pharmaceuticals representative. Throughout these years, Smith was raising three children in addition to managing her busy career. She found time to attend art classes and workshops, and took some freelance commercial art assignments. But "keeping her hands in" simply wasn't satisfying enough to meet the deep creative need she felt and, finally, when her children were grown, she knew her time had come.

"Soon after I reached a point where I could declare, "Okay, I'm set, I can keep on doing this for the rest of my life and be all right. But I asked myself if, when I was on my deathbed, I would regret that I never really tried to do anything with my art. And I decided that I really, really would. So I knew it was then or never."

Throughout the years, Smith had experimented with oil, watercolor, pastel, silk-screening, etching and virtually every painting and drawing medium. But she returned again and again to pastels and oils. She isn't certain why pastels seemed so right for her- "I just have a natural affinity for them."

Oils are another matter. "I love the way it smells-it's very sensuous, satisfying to sight, smell, even hearing. I love the slap of oil paint on that canvas. The colors are so dramatic. Youll hear it said that watercolor is the most difficult medium. I don't believe it for a moment. Oil is absolutely the most demanding. You have to have complete control and you have to know color."

That knowledge of color, she asserts, is only gained through constant experimentation, and through absorbing what other painters say about painting. Through the years, her teachers have included four presidential portraitists: Raymond Kinstler, Burt Silverman, Aaron Shikler, and Harley Brown. She continues to study with Bettina Steinke, Ned Jacobs, Milt Kobayashi, and Raymond Froman, a fine painter and portrait artist based in Dallas. She has also worked in Spain, France, Italy, the South Pacific, Indonesia and Japan.

From Ned Jacobs she learned a basic four-color palette that she used exclusively for five years. Composed of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium orange, and cadmium yellow along with white, the simplicity enabled her to build her mastery from the ground up. "I don't know that I had an instinct for color," she reflects. "I don't know that many people do. I had to learn how to work with it and the minimal color palette did that. The only difference between mud and a beautiful color is knowledge," she laughs. The reason she moved on from the four color palette? "I fell in live with gray."

Smith began with still lifes early in her career and quickly had much success. And, although she enjoys them and continues to expand her skills in that arena, she knew they weren't the culmination of her particular artistic journey. "Painting people was my first love," she proclaims. "One of the things you struggle with trying to learn your craft is too much success too soon. If you just stick with what's working for you, you never get the opportunity to explore and try new things. So, even though I sold a lot of still lifes, my heart was with portraiture. So I kept on. At one point I decided I was not going to do anything but people. Believe me, there was a definite downturn-sort of like a parachute that doesn't open."

This artistic free-fall continued for some time, she recollects, but she endured the sheer discipline of the learning process. Eventually, her success with "people painting" surpassed her previous achievements with still lifes.

She is particularly drawn to portraying women and children. Women, she confesses, because "They can be so glamorous, so dramatic, so poetic and exotic. That quality, that inner beauty really attracts me. And I simply love the beauty of children. They're so unbelievably lovely-to try and capture that is a challenge.

The luxury of staying with the learning process, even when her paintings weren't selling, was in large part thanks to her husband David, also an accomplished painter, architect, and sculptor. The two encountered each other at a workshop in Ruidoso, New Mexico. ("As soon as we met," she reminisces, "it was all over for both of us.") In 1987, she married David and moved to Ruidoso, where the couple still live and work. With his encouragement and support, she kept painting portraits, even when the bank account dwindled and her self-confidence ebbed.

"There are always financial considerations to any artistic endeavor," Smith points out. "People in the arts always had a patron in their lives. All the famous male painters I know have wives who have supported and encouraged them in the lean times. The wives are the great unsung heroines of the art world. In my case, the patron happened to be David. "Art exacts a price," she emphasizes. "No one makes it on their own, no matter what they say."

Smith acknowledges others who have advanced her career as well, wittingly of not. "We all build on the shoulders of those who have come before," she contends. "My work may resemble someone else's, and that's okay. I've copied artists that I admired and so have they. That's how we all learn. You try to get inside that other person's skin and see not only how they did what they did, but where it came from, internally. I try to be them whenever I take a class from another artist."

This process can be intimidating, Smith admits. "Oh, absolutely. It completely scrambles your brain. I look back at all I've taken and think I must be a glutton for punishment. Those little seeds you get out of a workshop like manna from heaven. It takes awhile to filter through and then you begin to assimilate it and sort out what you want to keep and discard.

"I'm grateful for every talented person who has ever painted, and those who are painting now. We all keep adding to the mix, and we all draw inspiration from each other.

Pastel and Oil- figurative, still life and landscape.


Portrait Society of America, Recognition Award
National Arts Club Members Exhibition, Takayo Moda Award

One-Person Show, Brazi Fine Art, Richmond, VA

Featured, Art Expo, New York, NY

One-Person Show, "Charmed Ladies", Brazier Fine Art, Richmond, VA

Fellowship for July 1999 from Les Amis de la Grande Vigne, Dinan, Brittany France


Gold Medal for Oil Knickerbocker Artists 45th Grand international Classic, Juried,Scottsdale, AZ
Allied Artists Show, New York, NY Juried

Allied Artist Show, New York, NY, Juried
Pastel Society of America open, New York, NY, Juried
Carlsbad Museum Exhibition, Carlsbad, NM, Juried

Carlsbad Museum Exhibition, Carlsbad, NM, Juried
Museum of the Horse, All American Show and Sale, Juried, Ruidoso, NM

Allied Artist of America, Exhibitor, Juried, NY
B.& V. Giffuni Award, elected Signature member, PSA Open, New York, NY Juried
Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, Elected as member

Focus/Santa Fe, cover and feature article for January-March, 1997
Best of Portrait, Northlight Book, January 1998, featured artist
U.S. Art Magazine, September 2002
Art Business News, August, 2002

National Arts Club, New York, NY, elected artist member Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, elected member
Allied Artists of America, New York, NY, elected member
Pastel Society of America, New York, NY, elected signature member

National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Forth Worth, TX
Museum de la Grande Vigne, Dinan, Brittany France Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, AL
Museum of Fine Art, Chattanooga, TN

1980-99 Art history, painting and life drawing at NTSU, painting with Ramon Froman, William F. Reese, on-going studies with Everett Raymond Kinstler (Presidential Portraitist) Bettina Steinke, Milt Kobayashi, Ned Jacob, Burton Silverman and Harley Brown. Old Lyme Academy: Aaron Shickler. Extensive travel and painting in France, Spain, Italy, England Japan, Indonesia and the South Pacific.

Source: Kent Whipple, Art Professional

Biography from a third party submitted on 06/03/2006:
A native of Texas and resident of Dallas for a number of years, Linda Kyser Smith moved to New Mexico to devote all her time to her painting career.  Her portrait, still life, and landscape paintings are found in fine galleries across the United States.  Her portraits hang in private collections in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Indonesia.

Linda has studied with a number of masters including four presidential portraitists: Raymond Kinstler, Burt Silverman, Aaron Shikler, and Harley Brown.  She also has ongoing studies with Bettina Steinke, Ned Jacobs, and Milt Kobayashi.  Linda has traveled, studied, and painted extensively in Spain, Mexico, France, Italy, Indonesia, and Japan.  She tends to play down her rich experience and academic background. "At some point, you have to do the work- the proof is in the painting."

Whether in oil or pastel, the portraits of Linda Kyser Smith show us a unique view of her world.  Much of her work centers around painting people, and she admits it will probably always be her first love.  Known for her character studies, mood portraits, and formal portraits, Linda much prefers painting the figure from life.  "When I am involved and interacting with those I paint, I find that I can capture a more intimate and accurate portrayal. It allows me to strive for the freshness of the moment."

Linda loves to teach, striving to impart the basic principles of design and color theory. Her goal is to give students the skills in seeing and painting that will allow them to open up their own unique vision. 

Linda Kyser Smith was honored at the 83 rd Allied Artists of America Exhibition in New York City on December 7th, 1996 by being elected as a member of the exclusive artists' group.  The Allied Artists of America is on of the oldest such groups in the country and includes founding artist William R. Leigh and notables such as Glenna Goodacre, Clark Hulings, Everett R. Kinstler and Gerald Balcair.  This was the third time Linda has displayed her oil paintings in the prestigious exhibition held annually in New York. Linda is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and the Saimagundi Club. Also, the 1996 Knickerbocker Exhibition awarded Linda its Gold Medal for excellence.  One of Linda's paintings graced the cover of the January-March 1997 issue of Focus Santa Fe magazine.  In addition, one of Linda's many portraits was selected for publication in the forthcoming book Best of Portraits by Northlight Books.

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