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Alan Smith Always Wanted to Paint

His parents’ discouragement about all things artistic steered new Anderson Artists Guild member Alan Smith away from his desire to create for many years. “I started acting in plays in fourth grade, and by seventh grade they said no,” he remembers. “Art, drawing, all that stuff—no, no, no. They said I needed something concrete.”

He attended Herkimer College on a soccer scholarship, earning an associate’s degree in human services. He also has a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Cortland State and a master’s degree from Syracuse University. After the blizzard of 1993, though, he’d had enough of winter and headed south to the University of Florida for a doctorate in audiology. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric audiology in Charlotte, N.C.

He landed in Anderson for a job at Medicus. After six years there, he set up his own practice, Anderson Audiology Consultants. His specialties include tinnitus management and hearing and balance disorders in both children and adults.

It’s a rewarding career. “People don’t realize how significantly hearing loss affects people and relationships,” he said. “I still get excited when someone can hear—that experience of opening everything back up to them again.”

About 10 years ago, he started attending annual workshops with watercolorist Tony Couch, awakening that long-buried urge to paint. “I had been under the assumption that painting was divine inspiration,” said Smith. “But I quickly learned that a lot of planning was involved. I learned a lot about design—where to put the center of interest and different design patterns. It’s been an extremely interesting and arduous process to learn these skills.”

He also started throwing pots a few years ago and now has a full studio in his garage. “I’m more willing to take risks now,” he said. “I’m not looking for perfection anymore.”

He is drawn to landscapes, especially old barns like those that populated where he grew up in upstate New York. He sometimes takes photos, but he mainly relies on a large, detailed drawing—his information sketch. He also creates a value pattern sketch on a small index card. Then he paints in an impressionistic style.

Though he has sold paintings of houses and flowers to friends, he had never exhibited his work until this year when he entered the juried show at the Anderson Arts Center. He was thrilled not only to get both pieces accepted but to win the Ruth Hopkins Watercolor Award. “I was really surprised,” he said.

His next goal is to become a signature member of the American Watercolor Society. In the meantime, though, he said, “I want to keep painting and doing pottery as long as I’m alive.”


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