Artist of the Month- October- Rachel Smith


Our artist of October is Canadian born artist and story-teller Rachel Smith. She was recently seen in Hong Kong Stories latest show "Off Balance," as well as on stage at The Hecklers to represent the active storytelling group she now coordinates. This month, Rachel talks us through her visual art experience and share her thoughts and process with us.


1. Name, Birthplace.

Rachel Smith, Canada


2. How does where you were raised affect your work?

I was raised on a farm in Canada until the age of 16 when I struck out on my own, fully aware that I was completely grown up and independent. Although subsequent experience has proven me wrong in all aspects of this view, I continue to believe it. 

The people around me growing up gave me space and confidence to enjoy creating and so I do. The people in my life now also give me space and courage to lead the life I lead, and to them, I am grateful, though I would probably do it regardless without them, just not as comfortably.


3. Where did you train?

I train every day; training as a painter isn’t as formal; it's mostly practice and observation and more practice. I did study in various places, including my favourite - a middle-aged man in a string vest in China who taught me Shui Mo for a couple of years. 




4. What is your favourite style of visual art? Why?

For the moment, watercolour. It is very versatile and sophisticated; it changes aspect even with the temperature or the weather so each day is a challenge and each painting has an element of randomness to it. Though my favourite style is whatever I am working on at the moment - you have to fall in love with what you are doing or else there won't be any dedication to producing the quality you desire. 


5. What was the best show you EVER saw?

Whichever I have been to last. 


6. What was the best show in Hong Kong you EVER saw? (You cannot say your own).

Probably the Rocky Horror Picture Show - I knew all the words and the audience was allowed to sing along. 


7. Of what piece of work are you the proudest? 

I am proud of all my work. The piece that has lived with me the longest (regarding painting memory) was a watercolour of a Chinese imperial robe that took five months to complete. Large and exciting - I am now in the process of painting six more. It may take a while, though.


8. Describe your process.

I get up very early in the morning and start my work as soon as possible. I sketch out the piece I am working on, playing with colour values and visual textures, deciding which lines go where. Some lines I agonise over for days - others just jump directly to the right places. Then I lay down a water base, then layers of colour, starting with bright yellows and finishing with blues or mixed. 


9. What is your dream project?

As I live and work in Hong Kong, my dreams involve HUGE papers, suspended from the ceiling with enormous brushes to work with. Don’t we always want what we cannot have? 


10. If you could change one thing about the art scene in HK, what would it be?

More fucking unicorns.


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