Instagram: @theflorasmith
Website: www.theflorasmith.com

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

My story is a little bit all over the place … I’m from the United States. I was born in Utah, I’ve lived on both coasts of the US. My husband and I met while we were both living in San Francisco, and we recently decided to pick up and move our little family to Boulder, Colorado – a very good move for us. I’m a Full-Time Mom to our two kids who are both under five, and I practice my art while they’re sleeping.

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2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

I try to harness nature’s beauty, knowing I’ll always be creating a shadow, or an interpretation, of the real thing. I create botanical tributes to the plants and flowers that inspire me.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

Currently, I work primarily with paper. I’ve always loved paper – an obsession that likely started with Lisa Frank stationery when I was very young, continuing on to an arguably unhealthy collection of blank notebooks and sketchbooks (I seem to buy them faster than I can fill them!). My current use of fine crepe paper is yet another iteration of my love for paper. I love the tactile feel of good paper. The smell of old paper. The myriad forms paper can take. I also love that paper often seems ephemeral and delicate, but under the right circumstances, it can last lifetimes.

4. What is your artistic process like?

I usually start by trying to locate a live specimen of the plant or flower I’m working on. If I can’t find a live plant (which happens fairly often), I do a lot of research including image searches and web searches for plant taxonomy. In my search history, you’d probably find a lot of requests for things like “pitcher plant height” or “Lily of the Valley flower diameter.”

I use inks, paints, and pastels to fine-tune the colors of the paper in order to achieve the look I’m after. Like most things, there’s a lot of trial and error involved in not only the coloring process, but also getting the shapes of the petals and leaves right, the proportions of the plant or flower, and also assembling everything in a realistic and meaningful way. The whole process takes time and finesse, and if the stars align I end up with a specimen I’m happy with.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work?

Nature is number one. Always nature. There’s a lot of open space around my home in Colorado, and I love watching the colors of the landscape change throughout the seasons. I visit plant nurseries a lot, and botanical gardens when I can, to see what’s blooming. And I’ve recently become enamored with the floral paintings of Odilon Redon.

In general, I also pay close attention to where Fine Art, Design, Craft (with a capital “C”), and craft (lowercase “c”) meet. This has been a fascination for me since the moment I recognized there were defined lines between these areas of creative expression. I love all of these aspects of art and I strive to incorporate facets of each into the work I make.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Art has always played a huge role in my life. The first time I remember someone asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to draw for Disney. One of the most mind-blowing moments of my very young creative life was when I learned about cubism in fourth grade. I felt a doorway opening in my mind when I saw Picasso’s cubist portraits – being able to see something from two angles at once truly floored me.

Being creative allows me to think about problems and challenges. I really love tackling problems – working through them to find solutions. I often gravitate to subject matter that not a lot of other people want to work on because it seems difficult. I enjoy the challenge.

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7. Where did you study?

Hoping to become a Veterinarian, I began my college career in the school of Animal Science at the University of Maryland at College Park. But I quickly realized that chemistry is not my forte…I failed miserably at my beginning chemistry classes. I was wise enough at that point in my life, though, to switch majors to a true passion, and I earned my degree in Studio Art and Graphic Design.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

My two kids will both be in school by then and I’ll (hopefully) be able to devote more time to creative pursuits.

9. What about in ten?

I will have a thriving art practice, my husband will have been able to retire (before we’re both 50!), and we will have plenty of time to travel with two kids who will be enthusiastic about experiencing the world.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

First and foremost, for me, making art is not really about achieving something, per se. It’s an outlet for me. Or a compulsion that I just can’t help. A way of interpreting the world around me. I need to make things or I start to go a little crazy. In that way, it seems like somewhat of a selfish pursuit. As an added benefit, though, I would hope that my art brings joy, or inspiration, or creates meaning for someone else. I see art as a language – a bridge between people. A way of communicating. And if someone understands the same language – if what I make really speaks to others – that’s all I can hope for.

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11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

I love anything delicious. Sushi is a favorite. And burritos run a close second. I used to be very passionate about beer, but nowadays I love a bottle of good red wine.

12. Favourite book?

When I have time to read (unfortunately, not often), I will almost always choose a Science Fiction or Fantasy book. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is a favorite. JK Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, George RR Martin, and Jean M Auel have also shaped my life considerably. And my top non-fiction book is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Oh, and anything by EB White. And Mary Oliver. (Clearly, I can’t pick just one favorite.)

13. Favourite genre of music?

Motown is my go-to. Also, classic rock from the 60s and 70s. And Bon Iver to satisfy the hipster bone in my body.

14. What are your hobbies?

I don’t have a whole lot of time for hobbies these days, but I love being out in the garden, flipping through books and magazines about plants and flowers, and making things for my two young kids.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

Definitely either a Landscape Architect or a Master Gardener.

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