Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Jeanne Rosier Smith. After beginning as a college English professor, I switched to a career in full-time art at the age of 39, 14 years ago. It turns out getting a Ph.D. in English was good preparation for the independence, self-study, and multiple income streams required in a full-time art career.
What exactly does your company do?
I am a landscape and seascape painter in pastel. For years I have taught workshops in pastel, and I still teach a few workshops each year, in my own studio in Sudbury MA and around the country. Primarily, I paint for the seven galleries around the country with whom I work.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Fear of rejection and failure: every artist faces that. How to turn off the negative voice? I focus on the joy of what I’m doing. Not every painting is a home run, but trying to force a homer nearly ensures a failure. So I focus on enjoyment, stay in the moment, think about color, shape, line, and art. Doesn’t mean I don’t make judgments—all art-making involves decisions. But I don’t allow outside worries to crowd my thoughts. They aren’t useful and in fact, they are counterproductive. Good paintings come when you cover thousands of yards of paper. No one square inch is made or break.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
The single most important thing starting out is a good strong network of professional friends on whom you can rely for advice, support, and information. Meet regularly and grow your careers together. Art is a solitary profession and networking is essential. The best advice I did get was, “Say yes to every good opportunity, whether or not you think you can do it.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
Biggest art influences are Sorolla, Homer, Sargent, and among living artists, Bill Hosner, Brian Blood, Marc Hanson. Each of these artists is a painter of light. They capture the beauty and realism in our world with bold, bravura strokes that make you aware of the luscious paint without destroying the illusion they’re creating.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I am forever grateful to Terry Ludwig, maker of the exceptional Terry Ludwig pastels. Years ago during a difficult time in my life, I happened to be consulting with him on colors for his new set of Portrait Pastel colors. He insisted that if I were going to grow my career, I HAD to attend the international biennial convention (IAPS) held every two years in New Mexico. When I got out there he took me under his wing and made some key introductions. That convention and his endorsement changed the course of my career. We continue to be great friends and I could not paint what I do without his pastels. But his advice changed everything.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
When I was in grad school and I had a little time off, I would spend it painting. When my children were small, what I used to want for Mother’s Day was a little time to paint. Now, I get to spend all my time painting. I really do have to pinch myself that my job is to do what I would choose to do in my free time. I know I am very lucky: not many people find their passion in life, and to be able to identify mine and then make a living out of it is a gift I’m grateful for.
How can people follow your journey? Please list your social media URLs
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