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Davie Smith


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One advantage of the dismal weather where I live (Scotland) is the constant rain on the rugged terrain of the more rural areas makes for jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes. Perhaps partly because of this there seem to be many tremendously talented painters in Scotland producing amazing work. I'm always disappointed when I go to contemporary art shows in London because quite apart from everything being shockingly expensive (I've been known to ask if the correct number of zeros were on a price tag), a lot of the work down south seems to be that of artists who are uninspired and so churn out derivative or weak stuff that's either been done before (shock tactics and is-this-art? posing a la Marcel Duchamp) or work that shows little artistic talent or else is so up its own arse in terms of conceptual game-playing that you wonder if the artist is hiding behind a pillar clutching his sides as the likes of Saatchi fork out millions.


By contrast the Scottish painters whose work I've loved for the past 20 years often paint representative work showing the beauty of their country. When I say representative I only mean the subject is recognisable, I don't mean that it's painted in a dull, unimaginative painting-by-numbers way like the landscapes you see used to see hanging on the railings of Hyde Park on a Sunday. Rather, those Scottish artists I love use their own idiosyncratic styles, whether it's combining the smudge and blur of impressionism with their own distinctive mark or using bold textures and brushstrokes to make their work original.


One of the Scottish artists whose work I've loved for over a decade is Davie Smith. Davie paints not only landscapes but seascapes and skyscapes. I own a couple of his watercolours and they still make me hold my breath in awe when I catch a glimpse of them. Great watery washes of sky in swirling blues, pale violets and seductive aquamarines with slivers of clouds chasing across the expanse. Vast stretches of sea, the depth and mystery captured with stunning acuity and talent. Little bothies and cottages nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes. Boats in harbours, morose-looking fish, clucking hens - those scenes that make the remote areas of this brooding country so beautiful. Davie has won several highly prestigious prizes - I first came across his work at the Royal Glasgow Institute annual exhibition in 2001 when he had won the coveted David Cargill Prize . Since then he has won the Winsor and Newton Award at the 2009 RSW (Royal Scottish Watercolourists) annual exhibition and the Adam Award at the 2010 Paisley Art Institute (PAI) annual exhibition. He exhibits regularly at the RSW, RGI, RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) and PAI annual exhibitions.


You wouldn't think it to meet him though - a more modest and down-to-earth guy is hard to imagine. He spends his weekends climbing and takes his paints with him.


There are many qualities of his work that I love: the expanses of colour, one shade merging into another in his watercolours; the oil textures that stand out from the canvas giving the picture a three dimensional aspect that you feel you could climb into; the way seemingly random specks and brushstrokes of colour coalesce to form an organic whole.


You can see some of Davie's art on his website:








He currently has an exhibition in the small gallery space upstairs at The Mussel Inn at 157 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2UQ, website




I've already been seduced by two of the exhibits there and snapped them up.


(PS If any IT boffins know how to show the paintings on Davie's website on this blog page, I'd be very grateful.)

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Yes, you can almost hear them clucking!


He's just been round to deliver the painting I bought. What a lovely bloke he is. We were talking about framing and I showed him a painting of someone else's I'd bought which had fallen out of his frame, and he offered to fix it for me and refused any payment.

He works part-time as an electrician at Glasgow Caledonian Uni. Lots of gallery owners have told him he could double his prices but he refuses out of principle. There aren't many such decent artists around.

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Glad you like it, Minxminnie. I justify buying art on the basis that it looks beautiful and it tends to keep its value or appreciate in value. Money sitting in a bank account, by contrast, is ugly and gains minimal interest these days.


I told Davie that a contact e mail address on his website would probably bring in more buyers so he's going to add that. He was previously banned from adding prices/contact details on his website by the galleries that sell his stuff, who want their 50% commission. But a contact e mail address without painting prices shouldn't incite the galleries' ire too much - after all, he can direct people who contact him to the galleries currently showing his work.


It seems a great shame to me that artists end up making less than the galleries that sell their work... by the time the artist has paid for the oil paints/watercolours/canvas etc, his/her profits are small.


There's another art opening tonight by another artist I like, Michael Clark, so I'll try and write a bit about his one too.

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