Because Ford was born in Tripoli and lived in 4 different countries as a child, he comes by his travel lust naturally. As a painter he comes by it honestly. It stands to reason that an artist who rarely leaves his studio has finite mental resources from which to create. The notion that ideas will reveal themselves to an artist in a vacuum is irrational--and highly unlikely for a gifted painter interested in gleaning everything he can about his chosen subject matter.
Studying or perusing pages of a book, website or television might serve to spark an idea, but isn't quite the same as fully engaging the senses when absorbing subject matter. Being struck by and idea and experiencing the source of inspiration firsthand, the artist can later translate the true essence of the subject matter, whether it's the human form, a bowl of apples or a tree. When an artist leaves his studio seeking fresh visual encounters, he never knows where--and how profoundly--that new experience might impact him.
Earlier this month, after soaking up the beautiful sunshine and beaches of Seaside, Florida, Ford and I flew to Seattle and it was there that I witnessed Ford's profound awe and fascination with the Chihuly glass museum. Mind you, we have toured most major museums of the world, and we've even seen Chihuly's glass before (the Bellagio in Vegas and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens here in Atlanta), but I cannot recall him being so creatively affected.
Ford was experiencing--in person--Chihuly's visions of nature in a spectacularly focused environment with brilliant outdoor gardens and perfectly lit, indoor glass groupings with black plexiglass reflecting and distorting their glory. I mean, really... Radiant natural objects abstracted in their reflections? It was as if he had found his soulmate in another artistic expression altogether.
I saw Ford’s face light up each time he turned a corner to discover a new exhibit. Upon entering a room or garden, he would stand stock-still and visually consume each aura for what seemed like an absurd amount of time. Then he'd move to get right on top of each glass form for a closer viewing. He would peer deeply into the fiery patterns, waves, and slick detail, committing them to memory for his own, later interpretation. His artistic sensibilities were on fire, loving the natural, rough-hewn materials mingling with the smooth, liquid glass swirls and orbs.
It was exciting to witness this naked admiration, along with a renewed impatience to get back into his studio which was, at that moment, located on the other side of the country.
So today Ford is back in his Atlanta studio and I don't recall being quite so eager to see what will emerge from the easel. I'm sure he feels the same way, because Ford's style of painting is purposely devoid of any real plan. He allows paint, water and gravity to lead him on the initial creative journey that, he likes to say, is like reading tea leaves.
When creating a landscape, his references are from memory alone. Which, now that I think about it, is how Chihuly himself approaches most of his own art. Will Ford's next painting be a more surreal interpretation? Expressionist? Trees or Bloomscapes? A combination of all?
I'll be sure to share these paintings as they make their debut. I've no doubt they will usher in a new collection of Ford at his finest. It's a wild, wonderful world out there and so much is left to see and then be re-imagined by a master painter.
Once again we thank you for your uplifting support, interest and patronage. Ford's artistic journey would be impossible without the people who connect so passionately with his paintings. For most artists (and certainly for Ford) knowing that your art is beloved, appreciated and valued may be the greatest inspiration of all.
Yours in fabulous art and friendship,
Ford is the original creator of the Bloomscape.... tangled gardens of vibrant flowers, vines and reeds.
The hand painted, mouth-blown Ford Smith Holiday Ornaments were a smashing success and we thank all of our early collectors of them for the first shipment at the end of June. If you missed out on the pre-order, don't despair yet! We DO have a few of each left on this pre-order, and all you need to do is reserve yours now:
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