Feature image: ‘Positive Boundaries’ 30cm x 30cm
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe and educated in Cape Town, South Africa before the two-year stint in London, artist Jaime Danielle Smith sold her belongings at the age of 26 and bought a ticket to Palma de Mallorca to start a new career working on super-yachts as a stewardess and chef. ‘For 4 years I travelled across the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas loving my life, but with a persistent suspicion that something was missing – the time and space to paint,’ she says. ‘And now, having settled in one of the most stimulating European cities, Stuttgart, I’m filling my soul with what it had yearned for since I can remember.’
My work is influenced by symbols of renewal, starting over and constant change. The multiple layers that enrich my paintings reflect my life experience – composed as phases being in a state of flux.
It appears that the artist’s creativity is driven by large, expressionistic brush strokes with bold colours. ‘I want the viewer to be able to look at the painting on different days, in different moods and to discover different things.’
‘Right Place Right Time’ 1,40m x 1m
‘Shine like a Diamond’ 30cm x 30cm
habitat: What was your first artwork and what inspired it?
Jaime Daneille Smith: I still have a collection of paintings I did when I was in junior school. I was 5 years old. I never really understood the importance of keeping these pictures, but looking back today, I see great value in them: I can see where my love of texture and relief painting started. I loved collaging and sticking anything I could find onto paper and then painting over it. At university, I was selling paintings that had a lot of building materials: tile grout, sand, wall filler – all to create texture and depth.
I use more universal gels and mediums to create depth currently, and I love to scratch into wet paint or acrylic mediums to give a below the surface kind of depth, so this has been a recurring element in all my years of painting. The colours and patterns that can be found once paint has been scraped or scratched into is a wonderful way to achieve depth and an extra dimensional effect.
h: Where do ideas for works come from for a start?
JDS: My work is very process driven, meaning I don’t have an idea to begin with, but rather use intuition, colour and emotion as the starting point and then step back after a few days and decide where the artwork is going: what is it trying to tell me and how can I push it further in terms of design or composition? When I allow myself to be taken over by the process, my intuition and subconscious are the teachers and decision makers, leading me to the final painting.
‘Flow’ 80cm x 1m
‘It Is Happening’ 80cm x 80cm
h: Influences on your decision to become an artist (family background or something that happened or that you felt, an anecdote that switched on your calling)?
JDS: I recently came across my family tree, and the realisation that so many of my ancestors were artists or creatives was a pleasant surprise. To know that this is something that’s in my ‘bloodline’ so to speak was a wonderful feeling. It somehow validated my compulsion to be an artist.
I have always found solace in doing creative things, in high school I loved to write and started at least 2 books, I would always be either doodling in my university lectures, designing tattoos for friends, or sewing costumes to go to dress up parties and festivals. I worked as a chef on super yachts and presenting the food was the part I loved the most. I worked as a wedding photographer and photography is my second passion after painting. My calling to paint full time was heard after the birth of my daughter. I was inspired and filled with enough creative energy to know that the time had come.
‘Time to Play’ 30cm x 30cm
‘Chasing Water’ 1m x 1m
h: What are your passions and hobbies?
JDS: When we go on family vacations, I always have my camera with me. I have a young family, with a young dog included, so we spend a lot of our time doing road trips and exploring the forests around Germany. I enjoy trail running and have recently started playing Hockey again.
h: What’s your number one concern during these times from a
global consciousness / political or economic perspective?
JDS: I think that everyone is more stressed and anxious compared to pre-Covid times and I think we could all use a little more compassion and kindness in everyday life.
‘Be Brave’ 1m x 80cm
h: Is there any direction or structure that you’ve noticed in your career? Like collections that follow a certain theme or technique?
JDS: I’ve recently been feeling quite homesick and with a lot of the travel restrictions not able to visit South Africa. My next collection is inspired by all the places that have made me who I am today. Many of which are places in South Africa and Zimbabwe where I grew up. The idea of being from ‘one’ place and having one identity is a little strange to me as I’ve been shaped by all the places and experiences that I’ve been to and had. This is the inspiration behind my new collection of work to be released later this year.
h: How do these change or evolve, what do new ways or movements depend on?
JDS: I think it is always important to keep pushing boundaries, keep learning and keep challenging oneself. As soon as there is an element of boredom or lag, then it is time to jump into a new direction and shake things up again.
h: Do you accept to take on commissioned projects?
JDS: Painting abstract commissions is in my opinion a lot harder than other paintings because everyone sees and experiences things differently. Something light and bright to one person, may not be the same to another. What I think is soft and gentle, may be perceived as stark and contrasting. Abstract is completely subjective, which is why it’s important to have upfront talks with the buyer and let them see a wide variety of your work and capabilities.
h: What does a work of art mean to you? Is art medicine? Symbolic representation of art from your perspective?
JDS: Art is a form of therapy for me. It is a mirror into my subconscious mind and a door into my inner being. It has showed me direction and clarity when I needed it most and my mental well-being is affected by times when I cannot paint.
‘Dare to Dream’ 1m x 80cm
h: Expand on your view about art’s impact?
JDS: Covid-19 has proven to us how important our home space and environment is. Having a calm, safe home which we love to be in, even when the world outside is filled with negativity and disarray, can be one of the greatest mood motivators in my opinion. I know people who have bought new sofas or large paintings instead of spending money on a vacation and these items are still bringing joy to their lives. Art inspires, and if I’m able to create something that brings joy to another person then I have one of the greatest jobs in the world – and I’m grateful for that.
‘Finding Meaning’ 1m x 1,40m