Artist Blu Smith creates colorful abstract paintings that explore how light interacts with the landscapes of the Canadian West Coast. The talented creative has spent several years developing his style, allowing his changing environment to inform how and what he paints. Today, he’s celebrated for his vibrant works that capture the magical quality of dappled sunlight shining through forest trees.
Smith’s love of light began when he and his wife moved to their hillside home on the Saanich Peninsula, where they had a view of Mount Baker. “Every morning I would be in the kitchen, pouring my coffee and getting ready to descend into the darkness of the studio when the sun would begin to rise from behind the mountain,” recalls Smith. “The sunrises were spectacular! I began to take mental snapshots of the light and colors that filled the morning sky.”
The painter used these mental images as inspiration for introducing light and vibrancy into his work. He says, “[I] infused them with color and a glowing sense of atmosphere that transformed them from two dimensions into the feeling of depth and space.”
A shift in Smith’s artistic style occurred in 2013 when he and his family moved to the lush forested area of North Saanich. Morning sunrises were replaced by light playfully peering through the trees that surrounded his home. “The scale of the towering Douglas firs and how light found its way through deeply affected me as well as my art,” says Smith. “What came from this was a new direction in my work and a journey exploring abstracted landscapes of Vancouver Island.” This is evident in many of the artist’s recent paintings, where soft, colorful light appears to burst through silhouetted trees.
Although he’s inspired by his immediate surroundings, Smith is less concerned with accurately documenting a landscape than he is with capturing its essence. And he achieves his goal; through bold brushstrokes in vibrant hues, each painting depicts nature as a kaleidoscope of color. “Abstraction is the vehicle and color is the fuel,” says Smith. “These two are deeply intertwined in my paintings. Without one there is no other.”
Rather than plan out a painting in advance, Smith lets his intuition guide his brush around the canvas. “A painting will ebb and flow and go through many versions until I feel I get it right.” He says. “It becomes a version of paradise with all the beauty, color, and light that I see every day outside my home.”
Scroll down to check out some of Smith’s abstract art and find more from his portfolio on his website and Instagram. If you’re feeling inspired, you can sign up for Smith’s online painting course where you’ll learn how to create your own abstract landscapes.