The handcrafted surrealism of Richard J. Smith

I want people who see my work to understand that beauty is everywhere and that we should take time to notice it. Art surrounds us, whether in architecture, words, music, or just in nature. And having an appreciation for that can make life more meaningful. Through surrealist juxtaposition and taking artistic license with the limits of visual reality, I aim to slow down viewers’ processes of perception enough so that a “wow” moment can happen. Maybe I do that at first with something that’s just visually striking on an initial level, but then layers of meaning can emerge and previously unexplored connections can form. That’s really the most exciting thing for me about any art — experiencing meaning through new connections. ~Richard J. SmithAccidental-Portal-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-minI happen to create all my work via smartphone, so I call what I do “handcrafted surrealism.” I primarily use a discontinued app, Photoforge2, though its functionality exists in others, and my general process involves extensive masking and multiple layers set to different layer modes – the equivalent of Photoshop’s overlay, multiply, and screen are the ones I most frequently employ. But the main thing to note is that all my imagery is quite literally crafted by my hands, with my fingers forming edges and arranging elements to define shapes and reveal serendipitous relationships — not unlike physically placing individual elements as in a paper collage — except I do this through masking, blending and mimicking established photographic techniques like solarization or vignetting. Each piece is meticulously crafted with these and other ingredients, using direct touch to form a hierarchy of narrative. A final composition is the culmination of fusing disparate elements into a kind of empyrean abstract union. Even my printmaking is very hands-on, with each piece being custom-cut then mounted in frames that I refurbish and paint in my basement studio. Amor-Electrica-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-min
My technique is this: I constantly snap photos of whatever’s around that I find interesting. Once the urge to create strikes, I then start a synthesizing journey. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed; other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving. Flying-Into-The-Doric-Sea-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-min
The best moments for me are the “aha!” bursts that flash from the eye to the brain when making new connections between seemingly disparate forms. It’s at that moment when I have a bright vision of what can be done with a piece, and it feels like my hands are moving themselves without my even being aware of it, almost.    img_5367-min Representation-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-min Rites-Of-Passage-Richard-Smith-RSMITINGS.com_-min rsz_1cubebreaker2-13-min The-Long-Way-Ahead-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-min VI-Plus-IV-Richard-Smith-RSMITHINGS.com_-min