A life-long resident of Springfield, Illinois, self-taught artist, Michelle Smith, has been honing her skills for quite some time. 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 belief to: "leave something of yourself in your work"; makes her portfolio appealing to the consummate and esthetic eye as well as the novice art lover.
She is a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America and United Kingdom Colored Pencil Society. 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 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. The two, again Co-Curated for the Museum: NOIR the Migration. An exhibit that expanded the previous year's exhibited and ran from June-November, 2022.
In March 2023, a collaboration with Ralph Lauren was brought to life with her artwork The Ride. Marking the first time she created works on fabric while also reinterpreting the iconic Polo Pony for the first time in the brand's history.
My work is inspired by life. That may sound cliché but it is true. I could come up with a new statement about art every day. One that never changes is as an artist I create work for others to appreciate; the journey of creating, however, is for me.
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