As the son of an Air Force serviceman stationed in a small Japanese village, Ford’s artistic sensibilities began to take root under the nurturing eye of an elderly Japanese painter when he was just twelve. After graduating from the University of Mississippi with a BFA in painting, Ford moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he realized a natural talent for photography. During the late 70’s and 80’s Ford established his reputation as Atlanta’s premier fashion and commercial photographer.
The early 90’s, however, brought a compelling urge to return to painting. He began painting again whenever his schedule permitted, which wasn’t often enough to satisfy his creative mind. So in 2000, as he approached his 50th birthday, Ford decided that he would no longer deny his passion for painting – despite his success and stature as the city’s top photographer. Believing his return to painting deserved 100% dedication, Ford sold his photography business and never took another professional photograph. He then set off to travel the world and seek inspiration.
After exploring different painting styles and themes, he found tremendous fulfillment creating contemporary landscapes conjured from the stunning horizons witnessed during his travels. Emboldened by critics and collector’s enthusiasm, he narrowed his focus there and pushed the creative boundaries of landscapes to arrive at the distinctive and radiant style for which he is known.
He never paints from a photograph – nor does he do studies. Instead, he enjoys the freedom and creative abandon to see where an impulse might lead. The intensity of working over a single piece to finish it makes the process very physical. Well known for his mosaics, splashes and seemingly endless ways of abstracting reflections, he lets layers of paint – acrylics on canvas – drip and flow, just letting things happen. “I was taught in college to let the paint find the imagery,” he recalls. Ford then goes in with skilled precision to create the light, details and natural elements that define his fascinating style of painting.
Ford’s sense of nature is not a Romantic’s wild and angry universe. To the contrary, his distinctive paintings reflect a palpable optimism and vibrant confidence. The easy precision, subtlety and repose of his paintings may well derive from that Asian aesthetic he developed in his early years.
Now he’s arrived at what he believes to be his true destiny. “I’m grateful every day that I get to paint for a living,” Smith says, “I feel like the luckiest guy on earth, and I think that energy and optimism is reflected in my work.” Ford resides in Roswell, Georgia with his wife, Cristi, along with their beloved Boston Terrier, Belle.
To see more of Ford Smith’s work on our website, click here.
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