Friday, August 31, 2007

Mud & Blood: coming soon!

I took my latest painting off to be scanned today, and I should have a posting of the image by next Tuesday.

In the meantime, here's the Press Release:


Mud and Blood – A New Painting by Ken Smith

WHO: Ken Smith, Historical Artist

WHAT: The Building of Ft. Loudoun, 1757, Painting to be Unveiled at Colonial Trade Fair

WHEN: September 8, 2007

WHERE: Fort Loudoun State Historic Area and

Vonore, Tennessee. He stands before you, staring you down, daring you to move, and you just know he is completely, utterly hating his life. This was the way for the South Carolina troops, who were enlisted into building Ft. Loudoun in 1756-57. As seen in Ken Smith's newest painting depicting the history of the fort, you get a sense of the people who made this moment and you feel their pain, or at least their frustration. This latest work of art will be on permanent loan to the Fort Loudoun Association and will be exhibited in the Fort Loudoun State Historic Area Visitor Center, while a limited edition of 250 prints will be available for sale to the public.

As a build-up to this historic site's 250th anniversary, the Fort Loudoun Association, the park's friends' group, has commissioned Smith to create a painting for each year of the fort's existence, depicting key elements in the life of the fort and culminating with a depiction of the fort's demise in 2010. The first painting was released last year and was called Over the Hills: Sergeant Gibbs and the Advance Party. This painting represented the relationship between the Cherokee and Redcoats and their partnership in securing a location for the building of the fort.

The second painting, Mud and Blood: Carolina Builds a Fort, shows the actual agony of such a project. Slugging away at the building process was Postell's Company of South Carolinians, while the Independent Company of South Carolina, British regulars, drill as the Cherokee watch from the sidelines. No mud or blood for them, at least not yet, as the history of the site will eventually reveal. Next year's painting promises to show a bit more camaraderie between the fort residents and their Indian brothers, and the following year becomes a bleaker still with an image representing dissension between the British and the Cherokee. The series is dramatically concluded at Cane Creek where the Cherokee massacred many members of the British unit and enslaved most of the rest–purportedly in retaliation for a similar handling of Cherokee hostages at Fort Prince George.

"I would like to show a little bit of the frustration of what were essentially National Guard troops being assigned to carry out a disagreeable task in what to them was a foreign country," Smith says about Mud and Blood. He believes in showing the humanity of the unsung heroes and villains of history, everyday people living their lives.

Ken Smith is no stranger to British life at the fort during the French and Indian War era. He volunteers in the park's living history program, portraying a private in the Independent Company. Smith's models are park volunteers, staff or other acquaintances, often painting the people who portray the characters of Fort Loudoun in the park's living history program.

Smith is the Creative Director for Media South, a full-service communications company in Knoxville, Tennessee. He holds a BFA from the University of Tennessee, an MA from Syracuse University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Hartford. Smith also teaches figure painting for the continuing education program at University of Tennessee.

Mud & Blood will be unveiled Saturday, September 8, 2007, during Fort Loudoun's Annual Colonial Trade Faire. It can be viewed starting at 10am and will remain at the park's Visitor Center after the Trade Faire is concluded. Limited edition prints of Mud & Blood will also be available for purchase at this time, as well as prints from last year's painting, Over the Hills. Smith will be on hand to personally sign prints on both Saturday and Sunday of the Trade Fair.

For more information about the Fort Loudoun's Colonial Trade Fair or to purchase prints, call Ranger Shay Steele at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area (432-884-6217), or to see more of Smith's work, visit

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Annie Leibovitz, OMG!

I had the great fortune to visit the Annie Leibovitz show at the High Museum in Atlanta last Friday. Just amazing! I've been a fan of hers since the Rolling Stone days, but I have to admit I haven't been keeping up these last fifteen years. Now, after seeing this latest exhibition (1990-2005), she is without a doubt simply the best.

Here are the exhibit details from the High web site:

The personal photographs in the exhibition document many events involving her family, including the birth of Leibovitz’ three daughters and the death of her father. Portraits of public figures include the pregnant Demi Moore; rock star Mick Jagger; actors Chris Rock, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Scarlett Johansson; George W. Bush with members of his Cabinet at the White House; William Burroughs in Kansas; and Agnes Martin in Taos. Assignment work includes searing reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s, and a series of landscapes taken in the American West and in the Jordanian desert.

The show is up though September 9; if you're in the Southeast and have a chance to go, by all means don't miss it.

And here's a link to the show

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Over the Hills

I'm currently in the process of doing a series of five paintings and prints depicting each of the five years in the life of Fort Loudoun, commemorating it's 250th anniversary (1756-1760). Each print will be debuted and released in September of its anniversary year, and each painting will show something pertinent to the events of the fort in that particular year. The painting for last year's premier of the series (which you can see above) was called, Over the Hills: Sergeant Gibbs and the Advance Party. This painting shows the British Sergeant Gibbs (on horseback) being guided through the Smoky Mountains by Little Carpenter (or Attakullakulla) the chief of the Overhill Cherokees (the redcoat standing to the left of the horse is yours truly).

The prints are available from me at or from the Fort Loudoun State Park: 250 print edition, $95 plus $18 shipping and handling.

Coming in September will be part two of the series, tentatively titled,
Mud and Blood: Carolina builds a fort. This painting will show the South Carolina Provincial Company involved in digging the earthworks that would soon become Fort Loudoun. Look for it soon at a blog near you (or come by the Fort in September). For more information on the program at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area, click here.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The London Olympics

This has been getting some press in the British news lately: the new London Olympics logo.

Neville Brody, the famous British graphic designer, is supposed to have said that it looked like "Lisa performing fellatio on Bart." And now that I've heard that description, that's all I can see.

The cost: $796,000

Oh, and the animated version apparently caused epileptic seizures. No, I'm not making this stuff up.

Just part of the wonderful world or graphic design.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Savannah Nocturnes: Mercer House

Now for something completely different. No history and no figures. This is the first in a series that I'm calling the Savannah Nocturnes. Night time paintings of the famous haunted houses of Savannah, Georgia. The old houses of Savannah look very stately and Ole South during the day, but at night you can begin to picture them in the lush tropical environment that feels like the real Savannah.

The Mercer House, of course, is the original home of Johnny Mercer, and the house that played a large part in the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

The painting will be reproduced in a 250 print edition on paper, and a 25 print edition on canvas. Available for Christmas!