Allison Leigh Smith
Allison Leigh Smith paints wildlife for the purest of purposes. She loves animals. They are the only thing she cherishes more than art. She paints them strikingly realistically, yet in a style that is all her own. Finding her own voice within the long lineage of wildlife artists was a necessity, as she deeply understands every animal she paints has its own personality, its own distinct features and its own story. Smith is well on her way to leaving a legacy of paintings that also possess their own personalities, distinction and stories. Sharing that uniqueness with the subjects she so adores is everything to her. For, Smith says, “I would sacrifice almost anything to leave a legacy of great art that says something powerful in a unique way.” The powerful part of her art: poignantly and delicately reminding her viewers that we are the conservators of the planet the animals inhabit.
Smith’s paintings have a high measure of sincerity, being objects that were designed to share the love she has for her work’s subjects. Design is an integral element in Smith’s art. Her years spent working in textile design influence the intricate patterns that add a literal layer of abstraction to many of her paintings. Her grandfather’s mastery of calligraphy finds its way into inspiring some works, as Smith will occasionally feature writing within her compositions. Circles are often the shape of her metal canvases. She says the shape, “speaks to the circle of life, connectedness and the symbology I love.” An experience at the Phoenix Art Museum opened her eyes to new possibilities. She was struck by a collection of Japanese Samurai clothing that incorporated a multitude of colors, patterns and symbols into one elegant design. She discovered that in drawing upon her own background she could weave more meaning into her wildlife portraits, thus bringing a more sophisticated and deeper story to the work she creates.
Smith’s fondness for animals and art goes back to her childhood. At the age of 10 she had to speak with someone in a profession she admired to complete a school project. She chose the renowned modernist wildlife artist Charley Harper (1922-2007). Harper generously showed Smith around his studio, which was fittingly surrounded by bird feeders. Today, you can find Smith out on her porch on a hill above Durango, Colorado feeding the birds that frequent her backyard. She is the perfect embodiment of someone doing what they love, from helping wildlife to painting wildlife, using her talents to share, honor and protect.