Gordon Smedt, a Los Gatos, CA native, is one of the artists represented by JCO'S Place. His work is heavily impacted by the influence of modern pop art, but his style develops from traditional impressionism and figurative painting. Gordon likes to take both ordinary and contemporary objects and, through painting them, gives them a new meaning and importance. His works are textured and layered, which he uses to "construct a visual patina" to compliment the nostalgic items that he paints. Painting only on a large scale, it has not only become Gordon's signature style, but he says that it is an integral part of the impact his pieces make on the viewer.
When did you decide to become an artist?
At age two when Mom placed my first abstract scribble up on the refrigerator.
Which step in creating a work of art is most difficult? Which is easiest?
For the most part, the entire process comes fairly easy tome. Years ago, creating a painting was much more difficult. Brushwork, color mixing, editing, were just a few of the things I would have to constantly think about and often struggle with. Painting now is very intuitive. Almost like the painting tells me what it needs.
The process of creating a painting is like a roller coaster. There are many ups & downs. I don't think I've ever created a painting where it didn't hit some rough lows, often a point where I'm thinking it was becoming a disaster. The most difficult step is fighting my way out of that dip, making it work, and getting it back on a high.
What is it about large-scale painting that appeals to you?
Using music as an analogy, if you love the song you crank up the volume.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color can change daily, but it really depends on the context. What I like in the color of a shirt will probably be different than what I like on a car. In general, my favorite color was blue for most of my young life, but for some reason I think orange has taken its place. When it comes to my favorite color in a painting, it's the greys next to the standard colors that I find the most attractive.
Why is Superman a consistent theme that is seen in your works?
I'm sure growing up watching Superman has something to do with it, but probably on an unconscious level. Early in art school, I was a design/illustration major before I switched over to painting. I love graphics, especially iconic type & logos. The Superman logo stands fro everything good, powerful, and honest. I love mixing the iconic symbol with regular objects to give them a new identity.
What comes first: the inspiration from an object or the object of inspiration?
I think I understand this question, but the two alternatives seem like the same thing to me. If the questions is am I inspired when I see an object to then paint it? Or do I find inspiration to pain a certain object and then search to find it. I would say both, but usually I dream up an idea and then either create or search for the object to paint.
Which piece of yours is closest to your heart, and why?
A simple small painting of a chair.
During art school I went on a weekend trip to participate in a Southwest style painting workshop. We were supposed to paint a model dressed up like a Cavalry soldier on a horse with an American Indian woman in her full tribal dress standing next to him. We had about 4 hours to complete the painting while the sun moved, the wind blew, and the horse & models constantly shifted. I remember being frozen, staring at my empty canvas while having no interest in the subject matter in front of me. I pulled out a small 8" X 10" canvas board and walked around the area until I found a simple, old, metal chair standing alone in the grass. I painted the chair and napped for a few hours. When it came time to put up our art for critique, my chair drew all the attention from the other artists.
With that painting, in that moment. I learned that the completely simple and ordinary can become the most extraordinary.
You're known for building everything yourself - from your canvasses to your house - what drives your passion to do this?
I can't take credit for building everything myself. Though I was involved with every aspect of designing and building my home, I had a lot of help from some very talented friends & professionals.
I'm most often called "a painter," but give me a lump of clay, a block of wood, a camera, or anything else and I'll make art. I love to make stuff. I don't know if it's a genetic thing, or goes back to always playing with things like Legos as a kid, but I've always had a drive to make, build, create... Half the fun for me is researching and designing the project before I get started. Whether it's a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, or art studio, I love designing and building things that are fun, efficient, different, and aesthetically interesting.
In regard to building my own canvasses. This has got to be the least exciting part of my career. I only do it myself because when I'm inspired to make art, I hate waiting around for someone else to make me something.
When you are not painting, what do you do with your free time?
Work on my property or spend time with family & friends.
Do you have a favorite artist? Or mentor?
I've been inspired by many but do not have a favorite.
Has being a part of the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz Mountains community influenced your work in any way?
Not so much what or how I paint, but sometimes what I do with my art. I've learned that when you're in a community, that community can share your success. If an artist gives their work to their local schools, museums, and fundraisers, this will not only greatly benefit the community, but will also bring positive attention to the artist and their work.
How long have you lived in Los Gatos, and, where is your favorite place in Los Gatos?
I've been living here for about 22 years now.
My favorite place? Is this a trick question?
Sorry, my favorite place in the entire world is my home & property in the Los Gatos Mountains.
JCO'S Place is a strong runner-up!
If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
1. My family
2. My friends
3. The Rolling Stones