Russell Smith

Aviation Art of Russell Smith
Russell Smith biography

(adapted from an Article from the June/July 2007 issue of AutoPilot Magazine)
by Michelle Abbott

Aviation artists tell stories on canvas and World War I. Artist Russell Smith, is one of those storytellers. “I meet a lot of people who say they don’t know much about World War I aviation, but when I tell them stories or they see my work, their eyes light up. I’ve got a couple clients around the country that have gotten hooked on this subject because of these stories.”

Russell Smith has loved airplanes since he was a boy. His father bought him his first model plane when he was seven. Even after it broke, he continued to play with it, creating stories to account for the damage it had suffered. As early as grade school, teachers and others noticed Russell’s creativity and aptitude for drawing. This eventually led to a degree in art from Augusta State University. While he was there, Russell was introduced to the work of aviation artist, Robert Taylor, and knew he had found his dream job. He thought, “If somebody can paint airplanes and make a living, that’s what I want to do.”

After ten years working in the prepress industry as a graphic artist, Russell was able to make his dream a reality. In 2001, instead of only painting when he could find time, he made the transition to full-time artist. Russell now works out of his home studio in North Carolina where he lives with his wife, Susan. His work focuses mainly on World War I aviation. “I find the shapes and lines of aircraft and the movements involved with flight to be visually powerful, evoking ideas of unrestricted freedom, adrenaline rushes and fluidic motions.”

An Artist Fellow in the American Society of Aviation Artists, Russell’s work is owned by many collectors around the world, including three paintings on display in the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center in New Zealand. He has also been recognized by several publications including Aviation History, Flight Journal, Windsock Datafiles, Cross and Cockade and the Italian publication, JP4. Russell has been the recipient of several awards and honors including, most notably, the "James V Roy" Award (Best of Show) in the 2007 American Society of Aviation Artists annual juried exhibition. His work has been included in many national and international exhibitions such as the the Simuflite/Flying Magazine Horizons of Flight Art Exhibition and the American Society of Aviation Artists Annual Juried Exhibition. He has also been commissioned to design and paint book covers for several World War I history books.

Modest about his success as an artist, Russell attributes part of it to his subject matter. Until about five years ago, Russell drew his painting subjects from the entire gamut of aviation history. At that time, he noticed the market was flooded with World War II images, but only a handful of artists were focusing on World War I. He discovered there was a whole range of subjects that hadn’t been covered by any artist. He had already done a few World War I paintings and had enjoyed them, so he decided to do more. “The more I do it, the more I love it.”

Since focusing on World War I aviation, Russell has discovered there are many historians and others who hunger for depictions of the events and people from that tumultuous era. For Russell, the World War I era is a perfect artistic fit. He says, “Although my work is strongly realistic, my goal is not to capture the fine details of a subject, but rather to capture its essence.” There is enough research available about World War I for an artist to be reasonably accurate, but there is also a sufficient lack of information to allow for creativity. One of Russell’s favorite pieces is entitled, “Hostile Sky,” though he admits it is hard to choose just one favorite. He truly enjoys all the paintings he creates.


Exhibitions:
  • "Southern Wings II" Aviation Art exhibition, Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Savannah, GA, 2007
  • Original paintings on display at the Omaka Heritage Center, Blenheim, New Zealand
  • American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA) Annual Juried Exhibition: 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008
  • "Horizons of Flight" at Simuflite Training Center: 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007
  • "Southern Wings " Aviation Art exhibition, Museum of Flight, Warner Robins, GA, 2005
  • "Tumult In The Clouds" One man exhibition, Museum of Flight, Warner Robins, GA, 2004
  • EAA Sport Aviation Art competition, Oshkosh, WI: 1999
  • Charlotte Art League art exhibition, Charlotte, NC: 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003
  • Icarus Art of Flight art exhibition, Kitty Hawk, NC: 2000, 2001
  • "The Natural Landscape", Hendersonville, NC: 2002

    Awards:
  • Award of Merit , ASAA Annual Juried Exhibition, 2008
  • "James V. Roy" Award (Best in Show), ASAA Annual Juried Exhibition, 2007
  • Aviation Week and Space Technology, First Place, Military Category, ASAA Annual Juried Exhibition, 2007
  • Boeing "Spirit of Flight" Award , ASAA Annual Juried Exhibition, 2007
  • Honorable Mention, "Horizons of Flight" at Simuflite Training Center, 2007
  • Award of Merit , ASAA Annual Juried Exhibition, 2005
  • Honorable Mention, EAA Sport Aviation Art competition, 1999
  • Honorable Mention, Charlotte Art League exhibition, 2002
  • Award of Merit, Charlotte Art League exhibition, 1998

    Miscellaneous:
  • Cover artwork for Windsock Datafiles, No. 129 - Albatros CXII, 2008
  • Cover artwork for The Stand: the Final Flight of Frank Luke, Jr., scheduled for release 2008
  • Cover artwork for An Australian Hawk Over the Western Front, 2006
  • Cover artwork for Windsock Datafiles, No. 101 - American DH4, 2004
  • Cover artwork for Windsock Datafiles, No. 104 - The Taube at War, 2004
  • Artwork "Uncle Sam's Boys", "Drachen Slayer" and "Dash for the Lines" on display at the Omaka Heritage Center, Blenheim, New Zealand
  • Marquee poster artwork for "Warbirds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator" released 2003
  • Cover artwork for Freedom's Heroes, 2003
  • Artwork featured/Artist profiled in Aviation History, Flight Journal, Windsock Datafiles, Cross and Cockade, Carolina Skies, JP4, Warbirds International, Military History, Aviation Art and AutoPilot Magazine.
  • A Flight of Bluebirds by Russell Smith
    $145.00
    The Belle of Bassingbourn by Russell Smith (B-17 Flying Fortress)
    $95.00
    The Bite of the Tiger by Russell Smith (P-40 Warhawk)
    $95.00
    Drachen Slayer by Russell Smith (SPAD XIII)
    $145.00
    Feeding On the Legend by Russell Smith
    $155.00
    Hostile Sky by Russell Smith (Nieuport 16)
    $145.00
    Sixth on the Sixth by Russell Smith (P-51 Mustang)
    $85.00
    Uncle Sam's Boys by Russell Smith (Nieuport 28)
    $145.00
    Winged Valor by Russell Smith (Sopwith Camel)
    $95.00
    Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Russell Smith (Sopwith Snipe)
    $145.00