Byron Smith

Painting, drawing, and printmaking

Oils, watercolor, etching, lithography

Studio: 8N

Columbia Daily Tribune 2010 Interview:

Columbia native and painter Byron Smith’s wide-ranging visions are highlighted in 40 works on display at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the campus of Central Methodist University in Fayette. The show, “Missouri Scenes of Byron Smith,” opened Tuesday and runs through March 4, with an artist’s reception from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. today.

What: The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art presents “Missouri Scenes of Byron Smith” through March 4. The gallery also will present Images in honor of Black History Month from the permanent collection. The opening reception is from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Central Methodist University in Fayette

When: Gallery hours are from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday.

Information: Contact Curator Joseph Geist at (660) 248-6304 or (660) 248- 6324, or e-mail jegeist@

For more than 40 years, Byron Smith has looked at the world, rolled its reality around in his mind and let his visions flow through his fingers and onto the canvas. His favorite subjects remain the landscapes of the Missouri River Valley and features of the communities that snuggle up to the rivers, especially Rocheport, Boonville and McBaine. He often looks for the unusual aspect of a location.

“Sometimes the character of a backyard is more interesting than the front,” Smith said.

Born in 1960, he grew up absorbing the shapes and colors of the world around him, including vivid images from his grandfather’s farm. He began painting at age 8, mixing his own colors from a 12-color box of crayons to match those found in a more expensive 64-color box. Because his family was far from any art museum, Smith learned about works of the masters by creating paint-by-number masterpieces.

“It taught me how to see the images,” Smith said. “I’d look at them and say, ‘I can do that.’ ”

During the 1980s, he studied art at the University of Missouri. Now he shares space at Orr Street Studios with one of his former teachers, retired MU professor and noted artist Frank Stack. Smith first met him at a figure drawing session run by Stack on weekends. After nearly 30 years of study, Smith now helps run these sessions.

He paints mostly in oils and watercolors, although he has worked with pastels, acrylics and other media, recently adding casein, a versatile milk-based, water-soluble medium that dries quickly. There are many times when he looks at what he has created and says, “There, that’s it.” Still, like most artists, he is often unsatisfied with his artwork.

When he walks into an exhibition of his work, he admits, “I can still take a paintbrush and correct something.”

Smith lives for his art, and his work has been shown at the State Historical Society of Missouri; MU’s Museum of Art and Archeology; and the Boone County Historical Society Museum, to name a few.

Widely known for his landscapes, which he paints on site rather than from photographs, Smith said, “I never get bored painting a landscape location because working from nature, the scene changes continuously.

“When I paint from nature, I express myself by depicting the landscape elements I both see and feel,” he added. “As a result, every painting is different.”

In addition to landscapes, he focuses on nudes and portraits. He has also created lithography and intaglio prints, using both handmade and traditional printmaking papers.