Kirkland Smith: Turning messes into masterpieces

January 2016 - Cover Story
by Dawn Gonzalez

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January 2016 - Cover Story

When you’re an artist, you know you are, whether you are producing anything or not.” Kirkland Smith, wife to South Carolina Representative James Smith and mother of four children, learned this through experience—her art has come in fits and starts.

Growing up in a creative family that encouraged art, Kirkland began painting in high school and majored in art at the University of South Carolina. At the time, abstract expressionism was in vogue, but because she enjoyed realism and portraiture, Kirkland took only one college class in painting.

When her first child was born, the tall brunette with bright eyes and a big, optimistic smile realized she’d have to be deliberate about continuing in her art. “I felt my job was a partnership, Kirkland says. She stayed home with the children and supported her husband as he built his career as a lawyer. She limited her painting to nap times and began her part-time career as a portrait artist. Kirkland painted commissioned portraits in oil, pastels, charcoal, pencil, and even watercolors. “Switching mediums kept it interesting for me. I did that out of our dining room for a long time—until our fourth child was born, a girl this time.”

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