Gregory R Smith FVAS past President, Hon. Life Member, over 30 years teaching experience.
The constant challenge to gain a greater understanding of how and what we see has been a driving force behind Gregory’s need to paint.
As an artist and teacher, developing greater visual knowledge allows his artwork to have a purpose, one of education. Accepting the limitations of paint to attempt to capture the truth before us is an important part of growth. Every painting is a new lesson.
While painting always ‘direct from life’ the journey is endless, and forever fascinating and stimulating.
Over his artistic career or more than 30 years, Gregory has held 43 solo exhibitions and has received some 200 art awards for still life, portraiture, landscape, floral and life work.
My first introduction to the VAS was back in the early 1980s after a discussion with an art judge at a regional art exhibition. Inquiring about art classes, the VAS was strongly recommended.
Maxwell Wilks and Shirley Bourne, my first teachers were very inspirational and highly skilled.
At the time I was working as an artist and draftsman for the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, but it wasn't exactly the art I intended to develop. I knew my art had become something more serious when after many years of surfing, I would drive to the coast with only an easel and paints and no surfboards.
At the end of the 1980s not only was I elected onto the VAS Council, but I took the big step to become a full-time artist. At this time, I was taking classes with Graham Moore who was to become a major influence on my further development. He, along with artists like Bill Harding, were strong supporters of my choice to teach painting near my home in Essendon.
Being someone who loved the great outdoors, cricketer, surfer, gardener and outdoor painter, I volunteered to run an annual outdoor activities program for the VAS. This included long weekends away, as well as a number of trips to Tasmania. There was an average of 25 artists per monthly event over the years, and some of my strongest friendships were made through these en plein air days out.
Having been fortunate enough to travel overseas and view some of Europe’s greatest paintings and sculptures, I was able to recognise what strong influences came out of Europe and fell on Australian art in general. The great painters who conveyed a visual truth have always earned my greatest respect.
As a VAS Council member of over 25 years, to be given the responsibility of leadership as the VAS President in 2010 was a great honour. To head our Society with such a proud history was no small task and yet very exciting at the same time. Again, the good people around me made the difference.
Known as a ‘tonal realist’, direct from life, alla-prima oil painter, I've been very fortunate to have received recognition for Still Life, Landscape, Portraiture, Life Work and Floral paintings. My journey has been from student, amateur to professional exhibitor of many solo shows, VAS Fellow and now Honorary Life member. I was pleased to be able to instigate the VAS participation in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show of which I coordinated for 15 years, meeting and promoting to hundreds of visitors. I’m also a VAS teacher of three classes weekly, with my own school having run for 30 years. I’ve always felt privileged to be able to share my knowledge as a teacher or mentor and to pass on the stories and wisdom of so many accomplished artists I had known over many years.
A full-time artist’s life requires good support by family and friends. The marriage to my wife Rachel, a magnificent artist in her own right at every level, has been an incredible blessing. Sharing not only painting time, but art principles and approaches is a wonderful thing.
In late 2019 I experienced a major health scare. Collapsing at home, twelve days later, I emerged from the Royal Melbourne diagnosed with a rare disorder known as Myasthenia Gravis. This is an incurable disease but carefully monitored can be managed into the future. This occurred soon after the passing of my beautiful mum as well as the news that we were expecting a baby. Then the world around us all went into lockdown for COVID-19 control.
Rachel and I do the best we can to live as artists, sometimes taking it in turns to paint.
With my health being managed I continue to teach with enthusiasm as long as the students require my help, I myself will remain a student forever.
Gregory R Smith VAS FVAS
Honorary Life Member of the Victorian Artists Society
We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.