This week marks artist Randy Smith’s sixth cover for Dan’s Papers.
Born in New Jersey, Smith honed his skills in New Mexico, where he earned a BFA at the University of New Mexico, then to the San Francisco Bay area, where he continued to study art, and then to Virginia, where he’s been since 1985. It’s clear from his paintings, though, that he also spends a significant amount of time in New York City and on the East End. Recognizable street corners, bridges, boats, skating rinks, lighthouses and beach scenes are depicted in his neo-impressionist style, with a touch of Fauvist and German Expressionist color, from unusual angles and viewpoints. From Shelter Island, Smith discusses his inspirations, Sag Harbor, yoga and where we can see his work next.
Tell us about this cover.
It’s actually a big painting. That’s my yoga teacher there in front.
What brought you out here?
I was working on Long Island, near Port Washington. I paint lighthouses in particular. I’m actually working on a Cedar Point Lighthouse painting. I’m doing it for a fundraiser.
Do you still divide your time between the East End of Long Island and Charlottesville, Virginia?
Yes, I come up about four times a year. I’ll probably be out before Christmas. I’m trying to spend more time out this time of year.
It seems like many plein air painters focus on landscape, but some of your paintings, and certainly this cover, seem to be more about the people and the architecture within the scene. How do you choose where to paint and what informs your work?
People are just landscapes themselves. They’re more fun and more challenging. I paint the Hamptons Classic because there’s so much motion—movement is what I try to get into my paintings.
The angles are quite unusual.
I twist everything. I did the Sag Harbor whaling race a couple weeks ago. I was out there painting the rowboats, trying to get the oars going, it happened so fast.
Do you finish the paintings outdoors too?
Yeah, that’s the fun of it.
There’s also an energetic vitality to your work. How do you achieve this?
Lots of yoga. I have to work at it.
Do you practice yoga out here, too?
Oh yeah, there’s an incredible vinyasa teacher out here from India. I overheard people talking about Rodney Yee as being “the real deal,” right here in Sag Harbor. I’ve been out in Sag Harbor trying to do autumn scenes. Mostly because Sag Harbor is my favorite little town.
Do you have any advice for young painters today?
Paint what you love, love what you paint. I’m just winging it.
Where can people go to see your work?
I’m going to be showing at Chrysalis Gallery in Southampton Village now. They also have a new gallery space opening in October in the city and they have all my latest work.