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 Matt Read Smith  (1960 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona/Kansas/Missouri      Known for: landscape-desert-mountain painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
Matt Read Smith
from Auction House Records.
Salt River Shoreline
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Matt Smith (Matthew) became a well-known plein-air painter of landscapes and also a highly respected teacher, most especially at the Scottsdale Artists School in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has also done figurative and still life painting, but his passion is landscape subjects.

In 1963, Smith and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he became fascinated by the beauties of the desert landscape. Showing obvious early talent for painting, he was lucky in that he traveled at age thirteen with his parents to live in Toulouse, France for two years, and several years later, they went to Switzerland. With his family, he toured many museums, and later expressed feelings of good fortune because his parents were supportive of his art talents.

By the time he was in high school, he already had his work represented by a gallery in Scottsdale. In 1985, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University in Tempe. He also studied with Merrill Mahaffey at Phoenix College, an experience he credits as giving himself a strong grounding in his art career.

His artist friends encouraged him to go outside and paint, which led to his love of plein-air painting. The resulting paintings were well received, and by 1990 when he was age 32, he had won the Eleanor Libby Award for painting at The Scottsdale Artists School.

He continues to be represented by a gallery in Scottsdale and has accumulated a prestigious list of exhibitions including the Prix de West, the Autry Museum's Masters of the American West Show, Plein-Air Painters of America, and the Northwest Rendezvous.  In June, 2000, he received the Robert Lougheed Award at the Prix de West Show at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City for the best group of three or more paintings.

Smith travels frequently, spending about four months out of the year on the road, and his locations include Canada, the Northwest and Northeast, and Europe. He also feels strongly that studio time reinforces the outdoor time.

Nancy Gillespie, "My Passion is Nature", Art of the West, November 2000

Biography from Trailside Galleries:
Matt Smith’s early influences included living as a child in France and Switzerland and painting in Germany, Austria, and Italy. But it is Arizona, where he has lived most of his adult life that has given him a deep attachment to ad respect for the Sonoran Desert.Smith graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in painting. Somewhat disappointed with the school’s abstract-oriented art program, he spent significant personal time studying the classic traditional styles of such landscape masters as Maynard Dixon, William Herbert Dunton, and Edgar Payne.

He also studied and worked with acclaimed contemporary painters such as Michael Lynch, James Reynolds, and Clyde Aspevig.Most of the time, Smith can be found painting plein air from southern Arizona to the Canadian Rockies or from the California coast to the mountains of Colorado. He says, “I like the tradition behind classic landscape painting, and I’m particularly inspired by pristine locations. I like to work in areas where one can travel for miles without seeing the influence of man. When I paint, I believe I’ve hit the mark when I’ve captured a balance between mood, look and feel. You know you’ve succeeded when viewers sense the desert heat, or the chill of a mountain snowfall, or the mist hanging over a lake. No one can improve on nature’s landscapes.”A profile on Smith in Southwest Art noted, “From his studio window, Smith looks out on a patch of desert, a giant saguaro cactus, and huge boulders. But the landscape often draws him out of his studio. ‘What I feel outdoors in important to me’, he says. ‘My paintings are more than just a re-creation of a particular view. I try to imbue them with the feel of the wind, the sounds of wildlife, and the smell of the fresh air,’ The result is painting that depicts not only a scene, but also time and mood, an accomplishment rarely achieved in a studio working from photographs,” Smith says.In return for all the guidance given to him in earlier years by the contemporary landscape masters, Smith devotes several weeks each year to teaching.

He conducts seminars in Taos, Jackson Hole, and other locations, and often leads a Scottsdale Artists School to his favorite secluded desert sites to paint.“After learning so much from artists I deeply admire, I feel a responsibility to pass what I’ve learned on to others. I hope in some way this contributes to keeping traditions alive. Also, teaching helps me convey my personal ideas and values about art.”

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers VI:
Matt Smith was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved with his family when he was very young to Scottsdale, Arizona. During his grade-school years, the family lived for two years in Toulouse, France, and when he was in high school they spent a year in Geneva, Switzerland. His travels in these and various other countries, including Italy, Germany, Austria, and Spain, exposed him to the work of many of the great masters. This stimulated his interest in art and was a contributing factor in what was to become his life-long commitment to painting.

In 1985, Smith graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA in painting. As part of his ongoing studies, he frequently visits museums around the country and has assembled an extensive library of art books.

He spends four to six month a year traveling. This connection to actual subjects enables him to paint landscapes from direct observation during all seasons, which reinforces both his plein-air and studio work.

Smith has received prestigious recognition for his work, including the Robert M. Lougheed Memorial Award at the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale, the Colonel Richard H. “Red” Smith Artists’ Choice Award from the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and both Best of Show and Artistic Merit awards at the Western Rendezvous of Art. Each of these awards resulted from voting by artists participating in the shows. In 2009 he received Ben Stahl Artists’ Choice Award and a Merit Award for View Over Ediza at the Western Rendezvous of Art Show in Helena, Montana.

He has had one-man shows in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming, and has participated in numerous major shows. His work has been featured in many publications, including American Artist, Art of the West, Art-Talk, International Artist, and Southwest Art.

Smith lives in and maintains his studio in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He teaches several workshops every year.

Masters of the West Show, Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA

Biography from Whistle Pik Galleries:
Matthew Read Smith was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1960 and graduated from Arizona State University in 1985 with a BFA in painting. Still living in Arizona, Smith paints primarily on location and feels his best works come directly from life.

Smith's work has been featured in many national shows. He is a member of Plein Air Painters of America. Smith recently received the Robert Lougheed Award at the Prix de West Invitational and the Ben Stahl Merit Award at the Northwest Rendezvous Group. He has exhibited in the Albuquerque Museum of Art, N.M.; the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla.; and the National Wildlife Art Museum in Jackson, Wyo.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Matt Smith is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club
Painters of Grand Canyon

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