Janetta Smith creates fine art from her gallery and studio in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
She enjoys working with composition, shapes and vivid colors in acrylic, mixed media and photography.
Your background is in tech – how did you become a creative artist?
To be honest, becoming an artist wasn’t on my to-do list.
As a Computer Consultant, I have successfully owned and operated my business for the past 28 years. I enjoy working in the tech industry because it requires me to think outside the box. Eleven years ago I was invited by a friend to attend a painting class with world-renowned American expressionist painter Bert Seabourn. In the beginning, I couldn’t draw a stick figure, let alone something that simulated anything one would paint. As I continued, I found a desire to create with intention. This experience began my journey. Bert became a mentor and I continued his classes for over 10 years.
I am grateful my friend introduced this world to me.
How does technology influence your work?
Working in technology is not all that different than creating fine art for me. In technology, I provide easy solutions for difficult problems. This actually forces me to utilize the creative side of my brain. In art, I work through my creative process with tools and techniques to help me create fascinating detail in my artwork. And, as with technology, I like to multitask and work on multiple pieces at the same time. I love the movement and the flow so my work develops quickly.
"I love this life. Art allows me to share happiness and joy. I choose to live every moment with intention and love."
What inspires you to create?
Life! Literally life. I’m a Christian and my faith in Jesus Christ is what inspires me, compels me, drives me and develops me. I love this life. Art allows me to share happiness and joy. I choose to live every moment with intention and love.
I believe this is reflected in my work as an artist.
You are also a photographer, tell us about this.
I developed an early interest in photography because my father was a front-line Marine combat photographer in Vietnam. Unfortunately, when he returned from Vietnam, he wasn’t ready to revisit his experience through his photographs so they went in storage not to be seen until he passed away in 1999. I have those photos now and am moved by the life he told through the lens.
Because of my dad I wanted to master photography. Early in my career I invested in a professional camera to provide clients with marketing material for their print advertisements and website designs.
"I enjoy working with creative compositions so my experience as a photographer segued smoothly into my work as an artist. There are compelling similarities in both photography and fine art."
The relationship between Painting and the Lens for you?
I enjoy working with creative compositions so my experience as a photographer segued smoothly into my work as an artist. There are compelling similarities in both photography and fine art. Both require good design utilizing composition, working with thirds and establishing dramatic contrast and color. I apply this understanding when using my camera or my paint brush.
You use several different substrates (acrylic, canvas, wood) – how do the processes and the results differ?
Working with multiple substrates allows me to grow and develop my style without being predictable. When painting on canvas/wood panels, I paint the normal progression of background, shadows, details and finally the highlights.
When I paint on acrylic, I paint on the back side of the acrylic and paint in the complete opposite order. The results are absolutely different between each substrate.
Sometimes I use LED lighting behind my acrylic sheet paintings and sculptures. This allows my work to be illuminated in a way that is not possible with canvas or wood panels. Each have their own purpose in my creative journey.
Where do you want to go from here or what direction are you looking to take with your art?
Recently, I took a leap of faith to move into a beautiful retail space to have both a gallery and working studio.
My dear friend and fellow artist, Patricia Triplett, and I share this business. North Gallery & Studio, in Northpark Mall in Oklahoma City combines the best of the studio and fine art gallery into one. Also, this space allows me to offer workshops and classes to share my love for life through art. And because the art scene is fluid and changing shape constantly, I hope to always be willing to try new ways to increase exposure to my work.
I sell online, in other galleries, and in a few favorite shows in Oklahoma. I also stay connected and involved with my local art community and groups.
Your favorite tool or part of your studio and why?
You caught me in a transition! I LOVED my floor to ceiling wall easels that covered most of my walls in my studio downtown. It made everything easier.
Moving into a fine art gallery will require a bit more refinement in my studio area. I will miss my wall easels immensely but hope to come up with another ingenious way to create and hang in a my new gallery & studio. Until then, I think I’ll hang some of my wall easels in an empty room at my house to have a backup creative space, just in case the urge to create hits me while in my pj’s.
You own a gallery now – tell us about your place and how it influences your work?
This gallery has a working studio for 3 artists and is a dream come true for me. I have 2 other artists that create with me in this space. We realized having a working studio in the midst of a fine art gallery creates much more interest for our clients and those walking by. As an added bonus, I’m able to showcase my new work immediately in such a beautiful space. It makes me want to be in the studio all the time. I also get almost immediate feedback as I’m working on new pieces. Talk about a motivation.
And, if I need to do anything for a client needing help with their computer, I always have my laptop with me to remote and support them. This allows me to work from my studio with both businesses. It doesn’t get much better than this.
"I want to encourage others they have a purpose and to live with intention even through the chaos of life."