Trudy Smith is a popular artist with a strong connection to the local community and environment. Focus went along to her studio to find out more about her latest projects.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
My connection to the Coffs Coast goes right back to 18 months old; growing up with my twin sister, Judy, and three other sisters, going to Orara School and then marrying a fellow local, Alan Smith.
I have found it very easy to connect with the Coffs community through my art, as we became known as the “Smith Family Face Painting Team”, working around Coffs for many years with the help of my two daughters, Bonnie and Meeka.
Over the years I have been reinventing myself and expanding my art projects to encompass teaching art, being commissioned for public artworks like the Hospital and private artworks, as well as parties and festivals.
Could you briefly describe how you became involved in art?
I have always been creative, but I really literally just fell into it. I have really just learnt and developed my style over the years. There were a few people that encouraged me, my parents and my nan Connie Laverty from Taylors Arm always believed in my talent, she entered a sketch that I did for pop and her, the exhibition was held at the local community hall, the sketch was of the iconic Pub with no beer, I received first prize, nan was ecstatic. I also have a close friend that I grew up with, Cherie Windows, and her and my husband have both encouraged me. Cherie‘s boss at the time asked if I would paint a mural in his bathroom, and this was so well received that my confidence just grew!
I realised I could turn this talent into a business, as I was being asked by adults and parents to teach art lessons.
Briefly describe your current project …
Recently Telstra contacted me and commissioned me to design artwork for one of their “Telstra Air hotspots” on the payphone out the front of our iconic Big Banana Fun Park.
I was surprised to learn Coffs Harbour was one of the best connected towns on the NBN, and my brief was to capture our beautiful surroundings in Coffs Harbour and celebrate the connectivity of the town.
When designing this artwork, I considered the composition and our local environment, taking pictures of my suggestions to draw our local bananas, frangipanis, surfers, the Solitary Islands and lighthouse and our iconic Big Banana, using my usual bright pallette of colours and outlining in black to create a naïve, fun, bold art style. This classic style or similar styles are what most artists and I would consider best suited for an eye catching piece of artwork.
Working closely with a local business, D & J SignWise, the artwork was printed onto vinyl and transferred onto the payphone; the vinyl is another medium that allows my artwork to be displayed on many different surfaces, e.g. cars, glass, perspex, walls and bill boards. The other commission painting that I’m working on at the moment is another live size portrait of St Francis Xavier.
As an artist, how would you describe your style and approach?
Over the years I have developed my own unique style working with all different mediums and surfaces.
My style varies from three dimensional photo realism to two dimensional naÏve style. I have painted many large commission murals in a trompe l’oeil illusion (visual illusion in art, especially used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object).
At festivals I can be seen using live canvases for community events like Australia Day, where I painted a full scene on a model complete with a koala.
I love painting pregnant bellies with an image of a baby curled up in the belly, which is popular at baby shower parties. I specialise in face painting, and I have a team of talented face painters that work for me at venues or festivals and children’s parties. I also specialise in airbrush techniques for corporate events or adults’ themed parties, fundraisers or themed parties with special effects.
What have been some of the favourite works you’ve created?
I have many favourite works that I have been involved in. The large commission murals located at our local Coffs Harbour Hospital is one. I have been told that they deliver a sense of calmness to patients and parents.
Others murals include the Coffs C.ex, motels, Bishop Druitt College, Mexican restaurants, Park Beach Shopping Centre, Just Be Nice Café, some private homes and wedding portraits. It’s a privilege when clients commission me to paint portraits of themselves, children or their pets. Clients trust me to design a unique piece of art work for them, and what I love is when clients see their artwork for the first time and they get emotional. As an artist, it is so satisfying when I can deliver what they really want.
What are your plans for the future?
To keep re-inventing myself and creating and designing artwork. I am keen to continue down the line of commercial work with the assistance of digital printing on to many different surfaces like vinyl, that could be used for large corporate billboard signs, cars, or even wheelie bins. At the end of the day, the choices are endless.
I will continue my face painting and body art, as this has a strong standing in our community and is well established.
Where can people find out more about you and your art?
Facebook: Trudy Smith
Phone : 0408 329 009.