Artist Profile: Odin K Smith
Artist Profile: Odin K Smith
Chatham-based painter Odin Smith comes from a Cape Cod family of distinguished artists. Her grandparents, who met at the Chicago Institute of Art, were part of the famed Provincetown Art Colony, the oldest of the 19th-century summer art colonies on the East Coast. Her grandfather, Charles Anton Kaeselau, was a well known watercolor and oil painter whose work featuring ships and early Cape scenes appears in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and her grandmother Marguerite Benjamin Kaeselau was an accomplished artist and illustrator for children’s books and large store advertisements.
It is no surprise that Smith became a painter. What is a surprise is that she is completely self-taught. You could say that talent for art ran in her blood.
The artist grew up in Provincetown and Brewster, graduating from Nauset High School. She remembers her Portuguese grandmother on her mother’s side telling her specifically not to go into art because there was no money in it. So she didn’t. It wasn’t until she was pregnant with her third child and her sister gave her a set of watercolors to relieve her stress, that Smith tried painting. She was drawn to it right away. To learn more about art, Smith put an ad in the paper for old magazines and books on art and was given a stack of them from a kindly reader. She read them cover to cover and when she was done, she went to the public library and took out every book on art she could find. However, she did take an adult education class in watercolors, but quickly left when she found that it didn’t offer enough technical instruction.
First, Smith worked in watercolors and then switched to pastels. She got a job teaching a pastel art class, but had to stop working in that medium because the dust of the pastels irritated her lungs. It was then that Smith switched to acrylics and finally found her true medium.
As with most self-taught artists, Smith honed her stills with lots of exploration and hard work. And deep study of those library art books. She did a lot of en plein air painting until she got very sick with Lyme disease, likely from being in the grasses while painting. Now, Smith works in her studio often using photos as a jumping off point. But instead of realism, Smith uses the photo as a jumping off point, focusing more on her memory of the location or scene. She paints the colors, shadows, and shimmers of light she remembers from being there. Her work is really a response to the movement of light, painting more of a feeling than of reality. Her work could be called emotion-driven painting.
In her studio, visitors are quick to see that her style is very eclectic, almost as if four different people are painting the pieces in her collection. Some pieces like Early Morning Walk are moody, dark and dreamy with a glimmer of sunlight crossing the dark trunks of the trees while others like Pretty Maids are crisp, upbeat and cheerful with primary colors.
Today, Smith has a wonderful new gallery in Chatham in a repurposed bank building. Her large space is filled with light and she uses a portion of the space as her working studio and can often be seen working on several paintings at once. She offers very popular Friday Night Wine Down classes in her studio, where she helps students bring out their inner artist in a step-by-step lighthearted environment, as well as several other classes for students looking for more instruction.
Smith sells all her work at Odin K Smith Artist Studio & Gallery located at 895 Main Street in Chatham and through her website, odinksmith.com. See more of her work on her Instagram @odinsmith and her Facebook page @odinksmithartist.