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«What the heck to do with this suddenly unhappy kid? My grandmother knew right away. I was bored. She suggested my mother get me a little table and chairs, some paper and pencils and leave me to it.»
– Justina Smith
I’m told I started off as a rather happy child and then I turned 2. Then I cried. A lot, I guess, until my mom contacted my grandmother in distress. What the heck to do with this suddenly unhappy kid? My grandmother knew right away. I was bored. She suggested my mother get me a little table and chairs, some paper and pencils and leave me to it.
The painting didn’t begin until college. I liked drawing, but painting? Thanks, but no. Making watercolor cards was cool for Christmas, but otherwise no. I could draw though, and I discovered I liked painting sets. Pretty soon I was painting pictures ON sets. It was a lot like drawing. Highlights. Shadows. But then I ran out of money half way through the second year of my college program. No more Technical Theater for me. So what now? Someone bought me an easel knowing that I wouldn’t use it right away….but with the certainty of it guilting me into putting it to use. It worked. After housing it in the corner of my little basement suite, and walking past it on my way to and from the bedroom for many months….I got a canvas and started painting.
Thirteen years later, I’m still at it. So 18 years of drawing, 1 & 1/2 of theater school, years of encouragement from family and friends, and 850+ acrylic paintings later (not to mention watercolor travel sketchbooks, t-shirt designs, two album cover design, a festival poster, artifact drawing & other random projects) here we are. I’m also in the process of learning how to knit and play my acoustic guitar.
Justina is a self-taught artist based in rural Alberta. Her creative beginnings stem from a fascination with drawing buildings and textiles at an early age. This fascination morphed into an involvement with theater; designing, building and painting sets and props. She liked working on a variety of surfaces, learning how to make marks with a wide range of implements. From set painting she went into painting in acrylic on canvas, encompassing other media into her paintings such as papers, gel mediums and acrylic inks, to achieve an interesting array of textures and detail. She also paints in watercolor and oil.
The subject matter of her paintings and drawings varies widely. She paints landscapes, buildings and portraits of animals and people. The style of her work also varies widely, from representational mixed media acrylic paintings on canvas and wood panel, to graphic and abstract illustrations on paper with watercolor, pen and other dry media, to impressionistic plein air sketches in oil on masonite panels. She is also an inveterate sketch journal keeper whether at home or while traveling.
Her work focuses on the use of a variety of media to enhance the texture, movement and focal interest of her paintings and illustrations. She lives and works in the small town of Vermilion, Alberta in her basement studio.