Artist of the Month: Lara Smith

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Aug 01, 2019 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

We first met our friend Lara Smith at Grand Rapids Comic Con, at Artists Alley. After falling into discussion about her playful, creative art, we KNEW we had to share her work with our wandering educators. 

Artist Lara Smith

She's an artist from Michigan currently living in the Grand Rapids area, and an aspiring children's book writer. She makes whimsical storytelling illustrations inspired by all the fantasy stories and fairy tales she grew up reading. As we did, fall into the wonder of the worlds in her art, and stay awhile. You'll be glad you did.

Artist Lara Smith

How long have you been an artist?
I've been drawing since I was very little. My parents are both architects and artsy, so I was always encouraged to draw, and supplied with plenty of paper and lots of paint. My older brother and I spent hours and hours doodling away. So I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon; I always find myself drawing.

Artist Lara Smith

Is your art your full-time career?
Not yet! My husband is a full time artist, and I hope to be soon as well.

Artist Lara Smith

Where do you work?  How long have you been there?
I've been a barista at a coffee shop for about 5 years. I also assist my husband with his art business, helping manage his website and give critiques and assistance where needed, and, of course, do my own projects, as well.

Artist Lara Smith

Do you have favorite places you like to create?
Our house has a room that I've taken over to be my studio. I've never really outgrown drawing on the floor, so I tend to paint sprawled on the carpet. I can't stand being in a room without windows, and luckily my little studio has a great view! My ideal work environment is quiet, relaxing, bright, and comfortable, and my little room is all of those things.

Artist Lara Smith

What does a typical day look like?  Is there a typical day?
Every day is different for me. If I work, I'm at the coffee shop from morning to dinner time. Days at home usually start with tea, time with my cat and my husband before we both get to work on whatever project we have going at the time. I'm easily distracted from art projects by nice weather, good books, pretty video games, and cuddling my cat, so I tend to work in bursts rather than steadily. I also really like to cook and garden, so my hobbies are at war and I never have time for all of them. Above all, I prioritize rest and comfort, so I'm the first to admit I'm not a particularly hard working person. The day becomes what it needs to be depending on how I feel.

Artist Lara Smith

What materials do you prefer?
Most of the time these days, I either paint with designer gouache or use the digital program called Procreate on my iPad Pro. I've used watercolors, colored pencils, oil paint, acrylic, oil bars, pastels...you name it, I've tried it. But there's a quality to designer gouache that I can't resist. It's definitely my favorite! I also enjoy the ease and forgiving nature of digital art; it lets me experiment with things I might be too shy to try when it might turn out to be a waste of paint. Digital drawing has the benefit of the undo button, gouache the miracle of the happy accident. Both are wonderful in their own way, however I will always prefer traditional media over digital.

Artist Lara Smith
Artist Lara Smith

Where/How are you inspired?
Inspiration is all around me! I take full advantage of social media and follow hundreds of absolutely incredible artists whose work both challenges me to improve and makes me want to hide in shame. My favorite pieces of art have an element of storytelling to them, so I also take a lot of inspiration from books and film. And, of course, nature has a huge hand in what I create. I love every flower and beetle and twig, and they all make me want to put pencil to paper. But at the end of the day, I feel like inspiration hits me like a lightning bolt and leaves just as fast. I'm always finding that I do my best work almost by accident, and any time I try and force myself to work, it ends in frustration and disappointment. How I wish that I could have more control over it all!

Artist Lara Smith

How do you know when your piece is done?
I just know! ;) Either when I'm sick and tired of working on a piece or when it just feels right. It also never hurts to take advantage of my other artistic friends and ask if it needs something more that I've missed or if it's time to leave it alone. I'm ever so grateful for my fellow artists!

Artist Lara Smith

Do you work on one or more pieces at a time?
Unfortunately yes. I'm always dropping one thing and starting something new. My long term goal is to illustrate and write a kids book, but I keep getting parts of several ideas done and never actually finishing anything! Yikes!

Artist Lara Smith

If you were not an artist, what would you do?
Goodness, I have no idea! I always say that I got one skill and one skill only, and my life has been so defined by my art. It kept me company when I was lonely and helped me find all my best friends and caused all my best experiences. I suppose I'd working be some standard job, maybe in a greenhouse, and on the side, I'd be a professional fan-girl of other artists.

How can our readers find and purchase your art?
My work is for sale in my Etsy shop! My illustrations are available as prints and framed originals. I take some commissions, I do portraits of people, pets, or fantastical original characters! I'm also on social media; facebook, instagram, and tumblr, if you like seeing works-in-progress, my pets, and my garden. Just look for Lara Jean Doodles @larajeandoodles

www.etsy/com/shop/larajeandoodles

www.larajeandoodles.weebly.com

Would you like to share anything else with us?
I can't talk about my own work or my artistic career without saying a huge thank you to both my family and my husband for encouraging me. I wouldn't be where I am without their support! I'm very lucky to have found a partner who pushes me to keep going and believes in my work. It was only because of his help that I've taken my art where I have today. He also happens to be an absolutely incredible artist in his own right, far more fantastical than I am! His work can be found at ravendarkcreations.com where there are many, many wild creatures to be found. I'm lucky to get to be along for the ride that is life with my husband!

Artist Lara Smith

 

 

Share