A life-long resident of Springfield, Illinois, self-taught artist, Michelle Smith, has been honing her skills since 1983. Now a celebrated and award winning pencil artist, her desire is to tell great stories - visually.
Mixing media, details and color; Michelle's work is categorized as Photorealism. Creating detail out of simplicity, this artist utilizes graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, alcohol markers, watercolor markers and gel pens or some blended combination. Whether commissioned memories, Christmas cards or calendars - Michelle's black, white and greyscale shading, evokes immediate emotion; while her color manipulation often tells a story all it's own.
Michelle's love of drawing outside the lines and "meraki" wrist tattoo is a daily reminder to: "leave something of yourself in your work"; making her portfolio appealing to the consummate and esthetic eye as well as the novice art lover.
A member of organizations such as the Colored Pencil Society of America, Michelle is the recipient of numerous awards including Chatham (Illinois) Area Art's Best of Show (twice) Library Foundation Award and Library Board of Trustees Award; Martha Vineyard's Drawing Prize(1st place) and October National Art Exhibit (2nd place). She also teaches the Beginning Drawing class at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield. She has been published in books, magazines, online and served as the illustrator of Travis Finds the Truth by Melissa Morrissey. She has also been showcased in her own highly successful Solo Exhibitions.
In June of 2020, Michelle was named winner of Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation's The Polo Project - Design for Good contest with her drawing: Just Let Me Breathe. The iconic polo shirt displaying the image became available on July 8, 2020 in the US and the UK through RalphLauren.com or the Polo App. The limited edition shirt sold out in 2 weeks.
In May of 2021, Michelle had the honor of Co-Curating the NOIR exhibit with Korbin "KAS" King, for the Illinois State Museum, making her the first Black Woman to curate or co-curate for the museum. The exhibit featured over 30 works of art by almost 20 different artists.
My work is inspired by life. That may sound cliché but it is true. Everything from the floral pieces to the portraits, are a result of a life lived and witnessed by me, in some way. Each piece finds its way into a drawing most often because of something that has moved me. Whatever medium I’m working in, the goal never changes BUT if I can get the viewer to find their own story within the art of mine or my subject’s, THAT brings a special kind of joy to us both.