Tag Archives: Jean Smith portraits

These Three Together

There’s something about these three together

No Hat 271 800

No Hat #271

No Hat #421 800

No Hat #421

The Hat #81 800The Hat #81

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Video: The Making of “No Hat #407”

How to paint videos on YouTube are typically about making a final product in a linear fashion, whereas I’m inside the painting process in a way that requires evaluating the whole and it is affected by each change I make. It’s about the relationship of parts and how they jive in terms of emotional intensities.

Music by Mecca Normal

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Dry Brush Technique

I was recently asked to write about dry brush technique for a book to be published in the UK. Some of this piece may be published with one of these two paintings.

Nurse #4 800“Nurse #4″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) SOLD

Nurse #5 800“Nurse #5″ (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping

I paint on canvas panels and use dry brush to give contour to areas on the face where gradation from light to dark will give a sense of depth. So, on the side of the face (along the hair and jaw line) the outside of the brush intends to create a more solid line while the paint of the inside of the brush – where I need the contour – intends to sit on the protruding weave of the canvas. To achieve this, I use more pressure on the dark side of the brush which may be a chiselled wedge or a ‘distressed’ flat brush between ½ and 1 inch. Where the brush doesn’t get into the depth of the canvas remains a lighter colour and in this way, the overall affect replicates a shading technique that, in drawing for instance, might be accomplished by crosshatching or smudging to make gradations of lightness.

If I’m not successful in getting the variation of lightness I want with the dark paint, I might go back in with the light colour of the face, and come at it from the other side. For me, dry brush is achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes the brush itself has not gone into water prior to loading it with paint, or paint on a brush already in play is removed by dragging it across a clean surface – a plate or a cloth – so I can get a sense of how much paint will come off on the canvas. I use the latter mostly for delicate areas like the curve of the eyeball. Other times, a brush I’m actually working with on the surface of the painting may run out of paint, and I decide to continue pushing it around, knowing its predisposition in the moment. I utilize the canvas surface, the weft and the warp of the fabric, to replicate the fabric of clothing, in this case her cap and uniform. The most pronounced dry brush work here is the decorative detail around the cap (the black line) which intends to give it contour, allowing the dry brush to be at its weakest point where the most light hits the cap, where it bends. I did this near the end of the painting, once I’d established how much light was going to be on the face. I frequently use a dry brush on clothing because the weave of the canvas creates a degree of believability replicating the fabric of clothes. I tend to use dry brush here to introduce a different amount of realism (greater or lesser) than I’ve achieved in the face in terms of light or focus. In these cases I create conflicting information in the brain, asking the viewer to choose which reality it believes. It’s like how complementary colours vibrate. I find two degrees or more of realism instigate a mental struggle that wants to settle on the dominant realism. I don’t like to get too clever with this in the way that a lot of contemporary painting combines abstraction and realism as part of an illusion. Or maybe I’m well beyond trickery, because I don’t want the viewer to consciously notice this is what I’m doing; creating conflicting degrees of realism to heighten engagement with the viewer.

When I’m using dry brush to deal with the intensity of realism, I watch carefully what very small amounts of paint do to the overall affect in terms of bringing it into a particular plane of realism. This requires a kind of looking where I take in the whole of the painting while adding very subtle definition as opposed to believing certain areas should be a specific colour or darkness. I think about the pattern the paint on the canvas in terms of pixels, recognizing that because my work is exhibited online, the dry brush effect may translate as pixels or screened dots in traditional printing. Many times after adding dry brush I find I need to adjust the intensity of the main features on the faces – the nostrils, the highlight in the iris and the line between the lips, especially.

A trick I learned from an episode of that famous forger’s reality TV show was something John Singer Sargent did regularly. He used a more solid line on one side of the subject and a softer line on the other. I usually go for the harder line on the right fortified with a slightly more intense colour, which is sometimes a darker colour than the left, and I might choose to use a dry brush to make the left side softer.

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Video: Currently Available

Jean Smith’s $100 USD contemporary portrait paintings (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas panel) from March 24th back to the beginning of the series (January, 2016).

“First, oh my word I love these portraits {acrylic on canvas panel} so, so, so much. Second, Canadian rocker turned painter Jean Smith sells these paintings on Facebook for $100 a pop. WHAT? Yes, true story. Are you wondering what you’re still doing here and why you’re not over there buying a whole bunch of these 11×14 beauties? Me too. Here you go… Jean’s Facebook page. You’re welcome.” – The Jealous Curator

$100 USD paintings currently available

Email me if you see one you want to buy.

Music by Mecca Normal

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These Three Together

There’s something about these three together

No Hat 134 800“No Hat #134” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping.
No Hat 237 800

“No Hat #237” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping.

No Hat 202 800“No Hat #202” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) $100 USD plus shipping.


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300th painting SOLD


I started the series of $100 USD contemporary portrait paintings back in January, 2016. Most of these sales were directly from my regular FaceBook page, which is where I post paintings first. Add me as a friend and see paintings as soon as they’re dry enough to photograph!

Jean Smith on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/jean.smith.1806

Here’s the 300th painting SOLD! An art instructor at a Vancouver college bought it!

No Hat 297 800

“No Hat #297” (11 x 14” acrylic on canvas panel) November 24, 2017

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All Time Favorites Available

Video: October 1, 2017 back to the beginning of the series (January, 2016). Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester).

To purchase my contemporary portrait paintings by number (note: not paint-by-numbers!), see my Currently Available album.

Contact me by email to confirm that the painting you want is still available before paying.

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Several of my all time favorite paintings are still available.

Why are some of my all-time favorite paintings still available? I figure it’s because of when I originally posted them on my regular FaceBook page where 99% of purchases happen. Sales slow at the end and beginning of the month and during major distractions good and bad. Here are a handful of my pre-September favorites.

Collectors tip: I post first on FaceBook where they sometimes sell within the first five minutes which slows me down from posting them here, on the monthly page. I tend to put them on Instagram last, two or three at a time.

No Hat 202 800

No Hat #202

No Hat 204 800
No Hat #204

No Hat 236 800

No Hat #236

No Hat 246 800

No Hat #246

No Hat 247 800

No Hat #247

No Hat 248 800

No Hat #248

No Hat 243 800

No Hat #243

No Hat 240 800

No Hat #240

No Hat 232 800

No Hat #232

No Hat 233 800

No Hat #233

No Hat 201 NEW 800

No Hat #201

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A brief history of Mecca Normal

A brief history of Mecca Normal in TV news clips and live footage to give background and context to Jeans Smith’s ongoing $100 painting series.

“I made this for Dan Seward’s Bunnybrains event during TBA: 16  at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) 511 Gallery in Portland, Oregon on September 15, 2016.” – Jean Smith

Part of Makeup on Empty Space, curated by Kristan Kennedy. Co-presented with PNCA’s 511 Gallery & Director of Center for Contemporary Art and Culture, Mack McFarland.

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Video: all the paintings

Jean Smith portrait paintings

No Hat #79 800

“No Hat #79” (acrylic on canvas board 11 x 14”) August 21, 2016. SOLD

Below, in the video, all the paintings in Jean Smith’s ongoing series of $100 paintings. As of September 3, almost 80 of the nearly 170 paintings have sold. Paintings currently available

Music by Mecca Normal (Jean Smith and David Lester), from the album Empathy for the Evil (2014, M’Lady’s Records) “Wasn’t Said” and “Between Livermore and Tracy” (both produced by KRAMER who also plays bass on these tracks)

At the very end (after the credits) Jean gives a brief visual demonstration of how Mecca Normal got started.

Mecca Normal‘s “Man Thinks Woman” (1987) was recently (August 8, 2016) included in Pitchfork’s story of feminist punk in 33 songs with a great write-up by Douglas Wolk

“Mecca Normal break rules like they never noticed them in the first place. The Vancouver-based duo of singer Jean Smith and guitarist David Lester are anarchist-feminist activists and constant experimentalists, implying a rhythm section with negative space alone. Always an intense presence onstage, they’ve become the most tenacious of D.I.Y. road warriors, touring and recording for 32 years now. In the early ’90s, they popped up on most of the biggest American indie-rock labels (Sub Pop, K, Matador); by their 25th anniversary, they were on the road with a performance-and-lecture project called “How Art & Music Can Change the World.”

Smith’s lyrics often foreground her political perspective; their anthem “Man Thinks ‘Woman,'” released in 1987, started out as a barbed dissection of gender normativity: “Man thinks ‘woman’ when he talks to me/Something not quite right.” The song kept expanding its radius from there, encompassing both bitter poetics and a disarmingly funny account of a drunken makeout gone weird. Kathleen Hanna has cited Smith as an early inspiration: “When I saw her,” she told The Fader, “I was just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’m sold.” – Douglas Wolk

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