Pegi Smith lives in the mountains outside of Ashland, Oregon. She is an abstract artist who works with a rich palette of colors. Her pieces reach deep into the psyche of the viewer. As a fellow artist and art connoisseur, I can tell you that I am moved at a primal level when I am perusing Pegi’s art. Pegi will be showing at the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration at the Briscoe ArtWing. HeartFest 2011 takes place on February 12 and 13, Saturday 10:00 am till 6:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am till 5:00 pm. The event will feature over 20 local artists and live music all weekend long by local favorites such as Craig Wright, Joe Diehl, Marcella Ruikis and Jim Quinby, just to mention a few. It was a pleasure to interview Pegi and learn more about her journey through art.
How long have you been creating your art form?
I have been painting for five years as of this coming April.
What would you say is your main inspiration when you make your craft?
My main inspiration comes from Life — every single day. My creative self gets flowing from the basic, pure and simple things that we so often take for granted. There is so much magic around us all the time.
Where did you learn your craft?
I learned my craft from deep inside my heart.
How long have you lived in the Ashland area?
I have lived in the Ashland area 11 years and I love it. I’ve lived in many different places throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Did you attend college, if so where, and did you study your art form there?
I did not attend college. I apprenticed under my father to become a third generation dental technician. I sculpt porcelain crowns and also paint custom paintings on them!
What do you most enjoy or appreciate about selling at the Lithia Artisans Market?
I love the Lithia Artisans Market for the comradery. The market is a great way to meet so many new people, as well as seeing old friends who come through to support the local artists.
What sets you apart from other artists in your medium?
You could say I am finding my own way through my paintings. I am continually exploring and experimenting. I am totally self-taught and follow no one when doing what I do. I allow myself the freedom to begin a painting without any preconceived ideas. I want to see what will come of it, and I find it thrilling to be surprised when I finish a piece. I work very hard at promoting my work and I find some artists have difficulty with this. I have worked for myself for so long it has just became a necessary part of existence.
Tell us something about you that has nothing to do with your art form?
What I love to do when I am not painting is to get out on the water and row. I was competitive until I had a car accident in 2003. These days I get out when I can in a single scull (a rowing boat used in the sport of competitive rowing). I love to be outside and breathe, walk, listen, or just play with my dogs. I love to play music. I play violin, mostly electric and I sing — that was one of my first loves. I love to dance and studied ballet and jazz for some time. I love to hang out with friends and get silly, or serious. I love the simple pleasures of life. I also like to just be by myself. Maybe that’s why I live high up in the mountains where I can find that solitude — time to reflect and stay connected to my inner self.
What is your favorite time of the year and why?
This question is a little tough as I love certain aspects of all the seasons. If I have to narrow it down, I guess I would have to say spring. There is something magical about watching so much come back to life in so many ways. It brings a sense of hope and is such a delight to the senses.
Who or what do you consider influential in making you the artist you are today?
I would have to say the first person who was influential in making me the artist I am today was my grandfather, he encouraged me. He played violin as well and we often played together. My mother was also very encouraging. I remember writing an illustrated book for her when I was about seven years old. She loved that book and seeing that in her sparked something in me as well. It makes me warm when people look at my paintings and “feel” something. My father was a painter but unfortunately he never got to see me paint. Early in my artist life I went into sculpting. Then, one day I got angry and I didn’t know how to handle it. I had some paper and paints left from my father and threw them out on the deck and began painting. I look back at that moment and think of it as an epiphany. I have never stopped.
How often do you sell at the Lithia Artisans Market?
Not often enough. I wish I could sell more regularly at the Lithia Artisans Market. Working full time makes it difficult as the weekends are my only time to paint. I am going to try to balance this part of my life better this year because I enjoy the market so much.
Where else you you sell your art?
I also sell my art by going to art festivals mostly along the west coast. I do many exhibitions locally, nationally, and internationally.
Why did you choose to become an artist?
I’m not sure that I “chose” to become an artist. I believe I was born that way. Ever since I can remember remembering, I was an artist. Never any doubt.
Are you a full time artisan, or do you have a separate career?
I work as a ceramist as well, sculpting porcelain crowns. The crew I work with and the lab owners are spectacular and very supportive of my work as an artist.
Where do you like to shop?
I like to shop at Central Art. For aspiring artists who don’t know, Central Art Supply is in old town Medford, and it is truly inspiring.
Why should people buy your art?
I don’t know if people “should” by my art, but I certainly LOVE when they do! I get excited when my paintings find their homes, so to speak. I can always feel when it’s meant to be. I really enjoy watching someone fall in love with a piece, it can be a very emotional experience. I have heard people comment that they feel all kinds of emotions when viewing my work. I put my heart and soul into each piece and I am very happy when people “see” that. I believe I was born very happy and even through some of life’s roughest moments I still think that I bring joy into my work. Perhaps shadows from other experiences, even difficult ones trigger emotions — maybe that explains why people can “feel” the art. The entire process, from creating to selling, is very satisfying.
Pegi will be showing at the HeartFest event at the Briscoe ArtWing on Feb. 12 & 13. For more information about the art and music at HeartFest, go to heartfest.wordpress.com
Her website is www.pegismith.com