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Artist Olivia Smith

Olivia Smith is a British emerging artist whose paintings explore themes of identity, fabrics and textures within oil painting. Olivia started her art career in 2014 at the University of Cardiff where she studied a Foundation course and gained a distinction in Fine Art.

In 2016, Olivia went on to study a BA Hons degree at the University of Brighton and has gained a 2:1 in Fine Art Painting in 2018. Olivia’s first solo show was in partnership with Relentless Energy Records, a division of Sony Music. She has worked alongside well-known musicians such as Rudekid and Giggs and has had her work exhibited in London, Brighton and Wales. Olivia now lives and works from her studio in Bristol.

"My love and fascination with plush and textured materials are the driving force behind my oil paintings. There is something so desirable about creating an almost tangible experience which hopefully draws you into the painting. Whether it's a sumptuous faux fur cushion or the collar of a coat, I hope to make paintings which are giving; I focus on trying to give the viewer a sensation, a sense of comfort or fondness.

I accompany these themes with painting people as this hopefully adds to the life-like experience. As people, we know the feel of fabrics, the warmth it provides on our skin or the way silk feels between our fingers. In addition to wanting to capture the feel of fabrics, I also explore themes of identity and style and what makes up the fabric of a person. I aim to convey the character and likeness of a person in a soft painterly- realism style."

1: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the arts.

My name is Olivia Smith, I’m 25, British with Indonesian roots. I am from Bristol, U.K.

2: What kind of work are you currently making?

I am currently working on a series of self-portraits which further explore looking at different textures and fabrics within clothing. Our U.K cold, wet and snowy weather has made wrapping up in a big coat the perfect source of this inspiration! I have found that using myself as a subject matter is the easiest because of the pandemics restraints but also it challenges me to incorporate more personal, autobiographical touches into my work.

3: What is a day like in the studio for you?

A day in the studio for me starts with a good amount of coffee with oat milk. I am very fortunate that my studio is accessible via a short walk to the end of my garden! Once inside I find myself reflecting on the painting I’m creating, by making voice notes on which bits I’m enjoying, bits I find challenging or want to improve on. My creative process starts with a rough idea which I will quickly draw out, I then hand stretch canvas over the frame and then prime it. I will give this 4-5 layers and then when ready, I sketch out a rough outline of a portrait onto the canvas. I am always excited to make batches of mixed paint which are informed by looking at the photograph I will be painting from. I love to see a full palette of different variations of color which is ready to go from brush to canvas.

4: What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I have been looking at Paula Rego’s work and was fortunate to visit her exhibition ‘Obedience and Defiance’ in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was mesmerized by her sheer work ethic and commitment to creating such emotive works. The works explored her own life story and the struggles that women have faced through the medium of pastel and paint. The paintings highlight the fabric of what it is to be a woman; with themes of love, loss and life. I found it incredibly moving and powerful. It really encouraged me to pursue creating autobiographical work such as in my painting The Year was 2020 which takes a look at isolation and loneliness caused by the pandemic.

5: Where can we find more of your work?

My work is currently being exhibited online by King House Gallery. I have also been chosen to exhibit in the upcoming global exhibition with Create! Magazine and Gita Joshi for Spring 2021. You can explore more of my paintings now via my Instagram: livthepainter and my website

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