If the devil is in the detail, then recent Art Church featured artist Justina Smith has her work cut out for her.
At first glance, her paintings are alluring. The kind that make you want to stop and take a longer look. Some might say they are nearly whimsical, and with their widely varied subject matter she cultivates a style that is uniquely her own.
When you do stop to take a longer look, there is significantly more to take in than originally anticipated.
“My paintings look really good from far away as most paintings do,” explained Justina.
“But then there are lots of interesting things to see up close, because of the patterned paper and the tissue paper and the fact that I usually end up drawing a lot of the details on with acrylic ink.”
Justina’s layering technique creates intricate work that draws attention and new observation with each contemplation.
“There are lots of things that I want to paint.”
“So rather than painstakingly drawing out all of the details, or having to paint them out, I kind of got lazy and figured out ways to mimic the texture or get the basic idea that this area is texture and this area is not by incorporating the paper.”
Lazy is not the message conveyed by her creations, however. Rather there is a careful balance between multiple mediums that lend the pieces an organic flow.
For this self taught artist, it allows her to reveal an efficiency to create from all of her inspirations.
“I like landscapes, buildings, building interiors, portraits, animal portraits.
“Right now the biggest source of inspiration is the garden that came with the house [I just moved into]. It has an established perennial garden.
“I like travelling around Canada and drawing and recording my travels in travel journals and taking photographs from that and paintings from that. My work is from various places in Canada.
“I have done a little bit of travelling in the UK but the bulk of my travels have been within Canada.”
Her travel journals are a work of art in and of themselves. A combination of photographs, watercolour and beautifully handwritten clips, it is easy to tell from her journals that her brain is wired for visual creativity.
“I have been painting and selling my work for 17 years now.”
Justina recently left a beloved job as a barista to paint full time and move to Vermillion from her home in Edmonton.
With her focus mainly on creating her art now, it is amazing to consider the educational background she came from.
“My last official art class was "Art 30" in high school, and then in college I took technical theatre and majored in scenic painting and design so I learned how to do faux finishing - making things look like wood or marble and painting pros and different things.
“We did a lot of painting on 3 dimensional surfaces, but not a lot of painting on 2 dimensional surfaces to make them look 3 dimensional.”
Justina hopes that her work inspires people not only to grow their personal art collection, but even to create something of their own.
“Either or, whether it inspires them to buy art or make their own art I'm happy with both outcomes.”
[To learn more about the art featured in this article you can click on each piece!]
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