As the son of an Air Force serviceman stationed in a small Japanese village, Ford’s artistic sensibilities began to take root under the nurturing eye of an elderly Japanese painter when he was just twelve. After moving back to the United States, Smith graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BFA in painting. Shortly after, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he realized a natural talent for photography and established established a reputation as Atlanta’s premier fashion and commercial photographer during the 1970’s and 80’s.
The early 90’s, however, brought a compelling urge to return to painting. Ford began painting again whenever his schedule permitted, though this was not enough to allow his creative mind the expression it desired. Despite his success and notoriety as a top photography in Atlanta, Ford decided that he would no longer deny his passion for painting. As he approached his 50th birthday in 2000, believing his return to painting deserved 100% dedication, Ford sold his photography business and never took another professional photograph. He then set off to travel the world and seek inspiration.
After exploring various themes and painting styles, he found tremendous fulfillment in creating contemporary landscapes inspired from the stunning horizons witnessed during his travels. Emboldened by critics and collector’s enthusiasm, he continued to expand and push the creative boundaries of his landscape paintings in order to develop the distinct and radiant style for which he is known.
He never paints from a photograph – nor does he do studies. Rather than painting from photographs or create studies, Ford abandons the constriction of these typical practices to allow his creative impulses and the freedom of his mind and brush to lead in creating his vibrant paintings. Ford’s process is intense and physical with much more than just brush strokes invested into each paintings creation. Well known for his mosaics, splashes and seemingly endless ways of abstracting reflections, he lets layers of his acrylic paint drip, splatter and flow over the canvas, just letting the paint shape the scene. “I was taught in college to let the paint find the imagery,” he recalls. After asllows the piant to create and inspire, Ford then goes in with skilled precision to create the light, details and natural elements that define his fascinating style of painting.
Ford’s sense of nature is not a Romantic’s wild and angry universe. To the contrary, his distinctive paintings reflect a palpable optimism using bright colors and vivid texture to inspire a vibrant confidence. The subtle precision and repose of his paintings seemingly derive from the Japanese aesthetic developed in his early years of painting.
After decades, Ford has arrived at what he believes to be his true destiny. “I’m grateful every day that I get to paint for a living,” Smith says, “I feel like the luckiest guy on earth, and I think that energy and optimism is reflected in my work.” Ford resides in Roswell, Georgia with his wife, Cristi, along with their two dogs and two cats. Their adored, 23 year old daughter, Hilary, also lives in Atlanta and is a talented, burgeoning filmmaker. Their son, Brian, also lives in Atlanta with his wife, Adrienne and their beautiful little girl Nora.