Wk12 – Artist Conversation – Justin J. Smith

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Artist: Justin J. Smith

Exhibition: Stay Golden

Media: Oil on Canvis Drawing and Painting

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov-East

Website: N/A

Instagram: @justinjsmithstudio

Today, I will be covering Justin J. Smith’s MFA Thesis showcase, which took place in Cal State University of Long Beach’s Gatov-East Gallery. First off, Justin attended CSULB from 2009 to 2013, in order to complete his Bachelor’s degree for Painting. Then from 2013 to 2016, he was able to complete his MFA in Contemporary Painting. Now, two things I truly love about this showcase is the title of his art show, which happens to be “Stay Golden,” and the fact these pieces are primarily Oil on Canvis paintings. Although I only took four photos of the paintings, there were actually three other pieces included in this showcase. Overall, I believe the overall theme of these paintings tend to focus on the color Gold and other colors that pair with it well. For instance, in all of the paintings you will notice that there are contrasting colors such as red and orange which are much darker and richer than gold but still go well with it. Another current theme with these paintings are the uniformed shapes painted. You are able to see this in every single painting, since the shapes are not drawn to symmetry – but rather look free hand-drawn. The lines, curves, and circles or ovals are all drawn at whatever size they turned out to be. However, I believe that since the paintings are not uniform or symmetrical gives them a different sense of beauty since it proves that although something is not perfect or symmetrical – it can still be beautiful. I like that the paintings are not drawn to scale because they look like something I am capable of drawing and painting , rather than looking at it and thinking “Wow. That’s impossible to do.”

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Now, this piece right above has to be my favorite piece out of this entire showcase. The reason why is because this painting truly presents a spectrum of colors, which I love to find in art. I believe by adding a variety of colors to a painting brings it to life and makes it less dull and unappealing to look at. Another reason why I like this piece alot too is because the colorful stripes remind me of this rainbow poncho I bought at the border on the way back from Tijuana, Mexico. It brings good memories to me! One final point I would like to make about this painting is that I think it was very smart to use black as the center color between the striped spectrum of colors. I believe that since it is so dark, it portrays the perfect balance between the colorful stripes and background color of Gold. If there was no black in between the stripes and Gold, I believe that this painting would just look like a colorful gold painting then and there wouldn’t be anything to special about it.

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Nonetheless, I would have to say this is my second favorite piece. I like the fact that the color Gold was not the primary color for the background, but black was used instead. I believe that choosing black for a background is the perfect choice to make in order to play with any sort of shade or color. By choosing black for the background color, I believe there are limitless opportunities to truly bring a painting to life and make it stand out. For instance, you could tell a striking difference between a painting that has a black background with a rainbow in the center versus a white background with a rainbow in the center. I feel like when white is the background color for something, there is something missing. However, when black is the background color for something, it always makes the main center of the artwork stand out even more. One other thing I adore about this piece is the fact that there is a variety of shapes presented in it. They do look like a bunch of triangle stacked, however, I visualize them as mountains. I like the fact that there is so much going on in this painting because it gives the audience a lot to think about and it actually engages us to be interested in what’s the meaning behind the painting even more now.

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Overall, I did enjoy this showcase because there was a sense of originality. I believe that the abstract shapes and bright colors truly put together the theme of this showcase and made it very interesting to view. I wish I was able to bring my mom and sister to this art show because they would truly appreciate the oil on canvis paintings. On their free time, they both love to paint small oil on canvis paintings of the scenery of our neighborhood or even of our dogs. Another note I’d like to make it is that I truly appreciate the hardwork that was put into these paintings. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to paint something so large. I’ve seen several artists paint while the painting is hung on the wall, while others will do it on the floor. Regardless of what position you’re in, I could only imagine how difficult it would be to fill in the spots in the middle of the painting. I would have to say that I’m truly satisfied with the outcome of this art show and I am now planning to try oil on canvis painting in the future.

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