This week’s cover artist, Randolph Smith, is a study in contrasts. While his cover image, “Snowy Day,” replicates what Smith no doubt sees surrounding his Virginia home, his New York paintings represent opposing views. Consider, for example, his skaters in the park, tall vertical buildings and impressive historical structures. He also paints beach scenes and other settings in the Hamptons.
Smith loves the feel of the land, evoking its smell and sound no matter where he paints. Being a “man on the move” allows this artist to experience everything he loves and to communicate that with us, the viewers.
How does all this snow affect your routine and your painting?
Snow inspires me. There’s no such thing as bad weather. After all, I grew up in New Jersey. I take long walks in the snow, too.
You walk in 18” of snow? Do you use skis?
No. I just trudge along in my boots. And I plan on going to New York City again in a week or so despite the snow—just as long as I’m not too far from hot chocolate.
That makes sense, as you love being outdoors. I remember that you take part in the Batteau (Boat) Festival each year on the James River. And you lived in Howardsville, Virginia, a small community of rolling terrain. You also have lived in other places where landscape is important, like when you were completing your B.F.A. in studio sculpture at the University of New Mexico. What other settings have inspired you?
I used to be a crane operator in Texas. Even now, I get distracted when I walk by cranes in New York. I worked on a barge, dredging sand out of the Sacramento River. I would get off the barge only when it was full of sand, maybe after two days.
Why did you want to work on a barge?
It stimulated my senses, like smell, sound and sight.
I can see that. All your images conjure up the senses. Will you go back to Texas soon?
I’ve been invited to go to Marfa, in West Texas, by my brother.
Where else would you like to go to paint?
I’d like to go around the world once or twice—and to the horse show in Wellington, Florida.
What is it about horses that attracts you?
Like the skaters that I paint, horses are on the move. I like motion.
I can see that, especially your involvement with boats, which certainly move. You also have a penchant for history. Howardsville, where you lived half the year, has a historical background, being involved in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. What role does history play in your art?
I have a work featuring Alexander Hamilton’s house in a museum on Wall Street. I like to do historical paintings, like George Washington’s Headquarters in New Jersey.
How about history in the Hamptons?
I’m interested in Lion Gardiner’s legacy in the Hamptons, and I painted Sag Harbor’s Whalers’ Church. I hope to paint the John Jermain Library when it’s finished. Oh yes, and I read tombstones.