Richard Smith was born and raised in Tauranga. From a young age he had an interest in drawing and painting. As a child he spent many hours in his father’s boat-building workshop observing and drawing boats under construction, developing the accomplished skills and techniques now so evident in his work.
Influences have been the American painter Edward Hopper and a number of New Zealand painters, including Peter McIntyre. An accomplished draughtsman, his paintings are honest interpretations of the subjects he paints. Throughout his ‘working life’, which was spent predominantly in the field of marine manufacturing Richard sustained his passion for art. It became his primary focus in 2001 when he made the decision to paint full-time.
Richards versatility leads him to depict landscape, the marine environment of wharfs and vessels, and buildings of character. It is from years spent in and around the marine environment, that Richard gleaned his Knowledge of boats and the mercurial nature and characteristics of water. He is able to capture the distinctive “personalities’ of different boats and the elusive, reflective quality of the water around them. ‘I want water to look fluid and wet, as if you could dip your hand in … or you could peel the flaky paint off an old building’ he says. Peoples presence and relationship with their environment is another theme often explored through paintings of old buildings and structures often abandoned and left to ruin. Although his art appears detailed, it is not the detail that interests him, but rather to create paintings that exhibit a feeling of spontaneity and life.
Although based in Tauranga Richard finds inspiration from frequent travels to different parts of the country. While he used to paint on location, he now finds this takes too long, and prefers to work from sketches and photographs in his studio. His keen eye for the subject observed ‘en plein air’ is reflected in his paintings.