Mark W. Smith was raised in Brawley, in the Imperial Valley, in the low desert of Southern California. In his mother’s art class in the backyard, he was first introduced to the world of art and encouraged to participate. Mark graduated from Humboldt State University in 1984 with a degree in Art History. While viewing and discussing art history, Mark met his wife Glenna and together they raised their two sons in Bishop, in the Owens Valley, in the high desert of Eastern California.
Mark W. Smith is known as “Smitty” on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in Idaho, where he works as a fly fishing guide. Mark spends a lot of time in Yellowstone Park, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge of the Greater Yellowstone region with his fishing clients. Mark and Glenna operate their own art gallery over the summer months in Island Park, Idaho.
In the wintertime, they are back down in the desert in California. Mark enjoys exploring the Anza Borrego region and working in his studio in the Imperial Valley.
Like many artists, I draw inspiration from the natural world around me. I try to go outside each day and look for something special. I live in and travel to some wonderful places. I always want to know more about where I am, who are the different characters involved, and what they are doing there. I like to learn.
It’s this sense of discovery, and how I’m going to relate to this information, that attracts me to the artistic process. When I get ready to put my ideas on paper, I enjoy using many different materials and processes. Making prints from fish I catch and other objects I encounter provides a realistic image of that subject and a starting point for my artistic journey. The next step is to give structural form to the image. I like building the model with sand then pouring the mold with wet plaster. I carefully plan out the composition, but at the same time there is fluidity and the element of chance. The result is a tangible manifestation of an abstract concept.
Combining the realistic imagery printed from nature and the abstract forms and textures captured in plaster, is the inherent joy in my papermaking process. I strive for a balance among these different elements that also express what I have to say about the subject.
I prefer the balance to be dynamic, to flow. It’s like a question that remains unanswered, or an image you can return to often and continue to see more. When it all comes together, the artwork demands that you look again. — Mark Smith