Peggy Smith graduated in 1955 from Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts after four years of study with such prominent artists and educators as Lawren Harris, Ted Pulford and Alex Colville. She was awarded several prizes and scholarhips thoughout her academic career, as well as in her artistic career, including grants from the New Brunswick Arts Board and the Professional Artists’ Fund.
Peggy has worked as an art educator not only in Saint John, but in PEI and London, England. Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in New Brunswick and beyond, including several juried shows at the Beaverbrook Gallery. Her work has been commissioned for commercial use many times, and is privately and publicly collected throughout North America and internationally.
I perceive change to be the constant in a chaotic wor1d that is heading toward disintegration. Art is a part of that process. For many years art has moved towards fragmentation of the ‘image’ – the ‘illusion’ of reality. My academic training in the ‘50’s was not accepted in Toronto where I lived after graduation, so I held back from exhibiting until I found my own ‘niche’. Feeling frustrated and trapped until the ‘70’s, when I studied small polished rocks while listening to music, and used large canvases to freely explore composition, movement, colour and ideas, I was freed from my formal training!
I am deeply involved in painting musicians. This suits my style and expressive pursuits. I can respond to the music with passion, pathos, – even violence! Searching for lines. tones and colours and new ideas as the music pours forth lends a stimulating, yet elusive challenge. Producing an image frozen in time while capturing a linear, temporal flowing musical work is not an easy quest. Following this lure has afforded an endless exploration of creative facets of pictorial composition and expression.
Watercolours have immediate, instantaneous. Responses to the music! Oils prove more removed from the actual stimulus, but can be more definitive and have more depth of character. Developing the transition from watercolour to oil presents a hazard long felt in art – the ‘original’ sketch often has a life whereas the studio produced larger oft sometimes struggles for spontaneity. Consequently, many of my oil paintings are done on site.
The Saint John String Quartet and the Symphony New Brunswick not only allow me to freely paint in their midst, but they also affirm and assure me that I am encouraging them and contributing something of significance. My training in early childhood education also focuses my attention onto children’s needs. I am energized by encouraging and validating young musicians. They rise to the occasion as I respond to their musical commitment in my own creative way. This is mutually beneficial and I know that this impacts on their young lives in a positive and unique way.