Windsock History

February 17, 2018
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Russell Smith - Biography

Russell Smith

Vice President - American Society of Aviation Artists, Vice President - League of World War One Aviation Historians

Artist's Statement

For as long as I can remember I have had a deep love for history, aviation, and the outdoors. As a professional artist I use painting to express my passion for all three. Most of my aviation subjects come from the period of World War One, and my work is a study of men and machinery during that terrible period. Placed against the brutal backdrop of the war, stories of deep courage, compassion and sacrifice seem all the more profound and dramatic. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of styles from World War One - the old “classical” war and the new “modern” war - and I enjoy the challenge of creating historical narratives that are also works of fine art.

My landscape work springs from my love of the outdoors and interesting places. I enjoy traveling and seeking out places that inspire me. Landscape painting, for me, is an attempt to capture those places so that I can share them with others. As I paint, I try to be conscious of the essential character and textures of a scene so that I can convey a similar feel in my work.

My preferred medium is oil, and I find that I best express myself using the techniques of the Classical Realists. I prefer this methodical, step-by-step approach because it allows me time to give thoughtful consideration to each painting. However, when I create an image, I try to go beyond simple detailed illustration. As I continue through my artistic journey, I find an increasing need to augment the analytical creativity common to representational art with an intuitive creativity that can infuse a scene with a sense of life and experience. Historically-based art, especially works that serve as narratives or interpretive tools, tends to be detail-oriented. As I work, I have to strike a fine balance between technical, visual, emotional and, when applicable, historical accuracy.

What finally ties all of my work together, regardless of my subject, is light. I am constantly amazed by the play of sunlight in the world around me, and I find an endless array of color and value possibilities within the interaction of direct sunlight and indirect ambient light. By balancing all of these elements I can provide the necessary information to fully describe a place or an event, while at the same time infusing a painting with the life, emotion and experience necessary to give the viewer a more visceral experience.

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