Riding the Wave
Jeanne Rosier Smith’s paintings capture the ever-changing grandeur of the ocean.
For Jeanne Rosier Smith, painting is an immersion of all the senses. She loves the visual richness of her pastels, the meditative quality of stroking color across paper, the emotional connection with her subjects, and the atmospheric feel of the air when she is painting one of her most loved subjects—waves cresting and receding, ever changing.
Smith discovered the artful tug of the ocean six years ago, when she created demonstration paintings for art classes she holds in the basement of her Sudbury home. “I love this topic,” she says in her warm, engaging style. “I wanted to learn more about it, dive into it, so to speak. I knew there was so much potential.”
The ocean has great familiarity to this Maryland native and Georgetown University graduate. Every summer growing up, she traveled north to see family on Cape Cod’s Sandy Neck, or Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA. “I’ve always associated a lot of happy memories with the beach,” Smith, 48, says.
Painting is in her bones. “I’ve always painted, my whole life,” Smith says. “I remember when I was 13 or 14, considering myself a serious artist.” Her parents were supportive, helping her gather supplies and organize a studio. Perhaps most meaningful is something her maternal aunt, the professional artist Martha Guillette, told her early on: “You’re an artist.”
Today Smith’s paintings of outdoor scenes, whether an ocean swell or a snowy New England landscape, brim with mood and meaning. She is almost as attracted to snow as she is to ocean water. “I love painting snow, and I love painting water,” she says. “Lines are so much cleaner in the wintertime.”
Smith launched her first career, after earning a PhD in English, as an adjunct college professor in New Jersey. After the youngest of her three children was born, she realized she had to “make the switch.” She painted portraits of her children and soon realized she could return to her first love —art—and make the same income. “I figured I could make as much doing two portraits as I would teaching a 16-week-long English class,” she says. Vibrant, sensitive portraits continue to be a part of her work.
Since beginning her professional art career, Smith has become a prolific painter, with clients over the U.S., Europe, and the Far East. One recent sale of an ocean painting was to a resident of Ile de Reunion, off Madagascar, who found Smith on Facebook. “My waves really spoke to him,” she says. Her work is shown at Gallery 31 in Orleans and Sosebee Gallery on Nantucket, as well as in off-Cape areas. Her work ranges from small 8 by 8 inch paintings ($600) to 24 by 36 inches ($5,200). She has won many accolades, including the coveted Prix de Pastel awarded by the International Association of Pastel Societies. She is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, and a juried artist member of the Copley Society, among others.
Smith is grateful for the hunch 12 years ago to change careers and follow her art. “I realized I absolutely loved the painting so much,” she says. “Now I get to paint every day.”
Jeanne Rosier Smith holds workshops and demonstrations locally and across the country, in addition to showing her pastel art. For information, visit jeannesmithart.com , gallery31.com, and sosebeegallery.com.