GUEST ARTIST: “Your Art Matters” by Bree Smith

My name is Bree Smith and I’m from Dallas, Texas. Even though I can hardly say the words “I’m an artist” out loud, I’ve been creating art since preschool.  My earliest memory creating art was making crayon drawings of Ninja Turtles that would cause my peers to gather around me shouting all at once which one they wanted me to draw for them next. Donatello! Michelangelo! Raphael! I was hooked.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Brush - Doodlewash

As a child, creating art was the one thing I felt was unique to who I was. In my adolescent years, my feelings toward art changed as I realized it made me “different” during an age when all you want to do is fit in. I pushed art away, and it wasn’t until high school, where I enrolled in advanced placement art, that I began to accept myself as an artist. I learned about different forms of art and completely new creative processes. Another important realization that occurred during these years is that I didn’t have to create exact representations in photorealism for my work to be considered art. Art held deep meaning for the viewer and artist.

Following high school and heading into college, I found myself yet again pushing art away because I was convinced I just needed to get a “real” job. At the end of my first semester, I missed creating art every day so much I changed my major to art.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Avocado - Doodlewash

I knew changing my major was the right decision for me, but I still didn’t believe I’d be able to pay the bills with my art. A few short years later, BFA in hand, I started working at a pet hospital while working towards my teaching certificate.

I taught art to kindergarten through fifth graders for a few years in a suburb of Austin, and then moved to Dallas. Due to a massive education budget cut at the time I spent months dusting off my graphic design skills and was given a chance to join the world of marketing and graphic design. Since then I’ve evolved my career to focus on digital design, and now work as a UX/UI Designer during the day, and pursue my art consistently in my free time.

A Peek Into My Creative Process

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Sunny Side Up Egg - Doodlewash

In art school I had the opportunity to try out and practice in many different art mediums from dark room photography to ceramics to painting. During my years as an elementary art teacher I also worked with many types of 2D and 3D art (toilet paper mache, anyone?). I also recently began an art residency program where I spend my evenings and weekends at a shared studio. This time has been an incredible opportunity to explore different ideas and techniques.

I enjoy most mediums to some degree, but these days I typically work in watercolor, acrylic, or mixed media paintings where I may use different kinds of paint, oil pastels, colored pencils, marker, and pen all together in one big happy art family.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Strawberries - Doodlewash

For these mixed media adventures, a piece typically starts out with a fluid paint base of either watercolor, diluted ink or high flow acrylics. I decide on a color palette, which sometimes comes from a little bit of Pinspiration or may even be as vague as deciding on a warm color palette. I’m particularly fascinated with the natural forms that water mixed with paint naturally flow into, and since it’s an organic substance, it’s easy to spot forms in this base layer that resemble trees and clouds.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Abstract Landscape - Doodlewash

At this point in the process, I’ll step back and see what forms I can spot and decide on an environment I’d like to reimagine within this fluid layer. Once I’ve got a vision, I start defining some of the shapes a little more, working them up while adding in some details with Posca pens and water soluble oil pastels. This can be a stressful way to work, but I enjoy the challenge of not having a plan and being able to problem-solve my way into a finished, cohesive piece.

My 100 Day Project

I recently participated in the 100 Day Project where I set out to paint 100 portraits of people with Snapchat filters on their faces. During this project, I resolved to abandon my typical pencil sketch that usually precedes any kind of representational work I do. I enjoyed this project because it brought together aspects of the digital and physical world and helped me refine my portrait illustrations. I started out using strictly watercolor, but as the project progressed, I found myself grabbing for my oil pastels and ink pens in order to create the look I was after.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - SnapChat Portrait - Doodlewash

One of the fun surprises of this project was that not only friends and family were sending me their Snapchat selfies to paint, but also complete strangers! I really enjoyed the variety and getting to meet new people.  I created each Snapchat portrait on a 3” x 3” artist tile, which made it less threatening and also kept the time commitment reasonable.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - SnapChat Portrait - Volta - Doodlewash

In my daily work one of the main battles that I’m constantly fighting is my obsession with the outcome. Sometimes, I can’t even bring myself to work in my sketchbook because it’s too “permanent.” What if it’s bad? It will be in my sketchbook forever! These little tiles are completely nonthreatening – if whatever I draw or paint stinks, who cares? I probably needed to get whatever it was out of my system. And now, I can just throw that little square into the recycling bin, where it can go live a better life being made into decomposable coffee cups.

Final Thoughts

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Bree Smith - Cherries - Doodlewash

I will leave you all with one piece of advice: if something inside of you says “you should create art” don’t ignore that voice. Find a way, regardless of how busy you are, to sit down and scribble out something in a sketchbook you’ve had lying around for years, or on a piece of printer paper.  Try to scribble something every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be good!

I believe that everyone is creative and can make art, but it’s a muscle that has to be worked out often or it gets weak. Don’t be like me and obsess over the outcome. The good stuff happens in the process, and in the daily act of creating. If you stay consistent, a year from now, you’ll look back and be stunned by your progress.

If you’d like to follow along with my journey or want to collaborate, visit me at the links below! Depending on my schedule, I occasionally take commissions, sell current work, or prints. A portion of all of my art profits are donated to The Hope Haven of East Texas.

Bree Smith

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists

17 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Your Art Matters” by Bree Smith

  1. Thank you so much for sharing yourself, your processes and your amazing art! I loved hearing about and seeing the snapchat portraits – just completely delightful! There is such sage advice about the work done on the small cards! ❤️

  2. I love reading this, it was very inspirational. I wonder if most artists can relate to a period of feeling like a bit of an artist imposter. Or feeling defeated before they start a sketch or painting because the outcome might not be what they wanted. I think everyone can relate to some if not most of this very honest piece of writing. Loved it!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. It was refreshing to see it first thing this morning, before encountering all the sad news and political drama that floods social media today. This took some courage to do, but, like with your art, you probably learned more about yourself as an artist, too. I loved the 100 Days project. I recently did a five day project of 20 minute paintings that was a similar eye-opening experience. As an artist I loved watching your growth as an artist and totally impressed with your works. I remember those Ninja Turtle drawings your Mom shared with us. In my career, I took a 20 year break from art as I pursued alternate paths. That’s a regret that I hope you will never experience. Now I’m back to art full time I have never been happier. Keep up the great work and turn those “happy accidents” into joyful art.

  4. Bree, we share a bit of background. I was also an art teacher for many years, and loved every minute of it, loved every child I ever had the pleasure of working with. So I laughed out loud at the toilet paper mache – yep, been there, and the brown paper bag Australian Dreamtime paintings, and the paper plate dream catchers, and the black glue outlines in lieu of stained glass. I bet you know all of these and more. Your art is delightful, vibrant with whimsy and color. It can be hard to develop your own art when you teach kids, and I’m glad you’re finding your way into watercolor. BTW, my sketchbooks are loaded with gar-bage! That’s the French word for junk – it’s how I learned.

Leave Me A Comment!