Palette: Art Soars on Nature’s Wings

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012

Birds are a recurring motif in Judith Smith’s work. Credit: Sherwood P. Smith

Pastellist and encaustic artist Judith Gebhard Smith stands in out front of her Nightwing Studio at the edge of Puget Sound, gazing at the gulls and ravens circling overhead. She knows the formula for encaustic: melt beeswax, add pigment, paint, then fuse. She also knows that she alone must pick up the tools to make her art happen.

It all began with passion and a gift. Recognizing her abilities in biology and science, Smith’s father encouraged her early on to become a doctor. Young and willing, she began premed studies at Chatham College in Pennsylvania, but soon opted to take a different path and transferred to the University of Pittsburgh to study art history.

“My undergraduate art history degree grounded me,” she says, ”allowing me to keep one foot in medicine and the other in art. I never regretted that decision, but I also knew it was just the beginning.”

To find out the rest of Judith Gebhard Smith’s story, pick up the Winter 2011-2012 issue of AmericanStyle.

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