Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hard Bargain

I've just released the third in the series of the Fort Loudoun Anniversary prints. Full press release below.

Hard Bargain: The Cherokee Prepare for War – A New Painting by Ken Smith

WHO: Ken Smith, Historical Artist

WHAT: Hard Bargain: The Cherokee Prepare for War, 1758, Painting to be Unveiled at Colonial Trade Fair

WHEN: September 6, 2008

WHERE: Fort Loudoun State Historic Area and

Vonore, Tennessee. Carefully inspecting the English gifts, Sower Hominey, the Great Conjurer of Chotee [sic], a chief of the Overhill Cherokee, weighs the pros and cons of helping the British in their war against the French. Ensign Bogges of the Independent Company of South Carolina watches for signs of acceptance, while trader Samuel Benn contemplates this depletion of his assets. British regular and Cherokee warriors stand as mute witness to this scene of war-making in March of 1758. These are the figures portrayed in Ken Smith’s latest historical painting commemorating the 250th anniversary of the life of Fort Loudoun. A limited edition of 250 prints will be available for sale to the public, and the art will be on permanent loan to the Fort Loudoun Association, to be displayed at the Fort Loudoun State Historic Area Visitor Center..

This is the third painting by Smith in the five-year build-up to the 250th anniversary of the fall of Fort Loudoun. The Fort Loudoun Association commissioned Smith to create historical paintings based on events of each year of the fort’s existence. The first painting was Over the Hills: Sergeant Gibbs and the Advance Party, which depicted the partnership between the Cherokee and the Redcoats in securing a site for the building of the fort. The second painting was Mud and Blood: Carolina Builds a Fort in the Overhills. A grimy crew began the tiring process of building the structures of the fort and its protective earthworks.

The third painting, though still showing the camaraderie between the Cherokee and British, beings to foreshadow the darker history of the fort. An ominous cloud looms above the gathering and there is a subtle divide between the sides - the Cherokee to one side and the British to the other. A dissension between the factions will continue to present itself in next year’s artwork, and will culminate dramatically in the fifth and final painting of the series, the massacre at Cane Creek.

“A Hard Bargain shows the ambivalent attitude between the Cherokee and the British. The Cherokee warrior is surely driving a hard bargain, but he’s also dealing with the inevitable results of the Cherokee people’s growing dependence on the English trade goods,” the artist says about his latest painting.

Smith’s painting, Over the Hills, may also look familiar to those who have not yet visited historic Fort Loudoun, as it is prominently featured in the new Museum of East Tennessee History’s permanent exhibit. Also included in the exhibit is another Ken Smith painting of the Fort Loudoun, which is not included in the fort's commemoration series.

Hard Bargain was unveiled Saturday, September 6, 2008, during Fort Loudoun’s Annual Colonial Trade Faire and will remain at the park’s Visitor Center after the Trade Faire is concluded. Limited edition prints of Hard Bargain are also available for purchase at this time, as well as prints from the previous years.

For more information about Fort Loudoun’s Colonial Trade Fair or to purchase prints, call Angie King at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area (432-884-6217), or to see more of Smith’s work, visit

Monday, August 18, 2008

N*tranced to Host An Artist Reception for Ken Smith’s Newest Art Series - The Victorian Actress

WHO: N*tranced Hypnosis and Guided Meditation and Ken Smith, Historical Artist

WHAT: N*tranced to Host An Artist Reception for Ken Smith’s Newest Art Series - The Victorian Actress

WHEN: August 29, 2008 from 5 pm to 9 pm

WHERE: N*tranced Hypnosis and Guided Meditation

Maryville, Tennessee. Stepping into the office of hypnotist L.S. King, one sees a space that is comfortable, non-sterile, and artistic. On one wall, a dark haired Sarah Bernhardt laments her passions as Lady MacBeth, as does a reposed Helena Modjeska as Marguerite Gautier from Camille. Lillie Langtry lounges mischievously as Rosalind from As You Like It, while Maud Adams has all the confidence of Peter Pan. Ellen Terry’s Ophelia majestically deals with her Hamlet madness. Mary Anderson chooses to go back on her pedestal as Galatea from Pygmalion and Galatea. These six actresses, as painted by historical artist Ken Smith, have found temporary domicile at N*tranced where they await their adoring public.

On Friday, August 29, 2008, from 5 pm to 9 pm, the public is invited to the unveiling and public showing of this latest series by Ken Smith. The original oil paintings will be displayed and limited edition giclee prints will be available for purchase.

“We are very excited to be able to host this reception for Ken Smith and his new series of paintings. Though N*tranced is a business office, we strive to create a true gallery experience in Maryville, and Mr. Smith’s work is a fine example of the talent located in the heart of East Tennessee,” says L.S. King, owner of N*tranced.

Smith, whose art work for the Fort Loudoun State Historic Area was recently featured in Tennessee Conservationist magazine, is a good fit for the hypnotic space. When beginning the Fort Loudoun project, Smith used hypnosis (from N*tranced) to help visualize the first painting in that series (which can be seen at the park visitor center in a gallery area dedicated to his original artwork). Ms. King wished to honor the creative process by premiering this new series of Victorian Actresses at her office in Maryville.

N*tranced Hypnosis and Guided Meditation is located at 305 College Street in downtown Maryville, Tennessee. For more information or directions, please contact L.S. King at 865-406-1135 or visit To learn more about the art work of Ken Smith, visit

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fort Loudoun Paintings Featured in Magazine

WHO: Ken Smith, Historical Artist

WHAT: Tennessee Conservationist Includes an Article About Historical Artist Ken Smith and His Fort Loudoun Painting Commission

WHEN: July 2008

WHERE: Tennessee Conservationist Magazine

When flipping through the pages of this month’s Tennessee Conservationist, one cannot help but notice an article about historical artist Ken Smith and his Fort Loudoun Painting series. Looking at the two completed oil paintings, one is taken back in time to the beginnings of the British occupation of the fort site in what is now Vonore, Tennessee. Maybe it is the regal Cherokee chief in “Over the Hills” or the desperation seen in the faces of the provincial solider in ”Mud & Blood” that allows one to forget about the modern chaos of society. However, there is more to preserving these moments artistically than putting oil on canvas; planning, coordinating, composing, researching the details, and an amount of sweat that one might leave one astonished.

This month’s issue of the Tennessee Conservationist magazine chronicles the process that Smith uses to create his oil paintings. In the article “Oil and Sweat: An Artist’s Perspective of the History of Ft. Loudoun,”, Smith provides a behind-the-scenes look at these paintings commissioned by the Fort Loudoun Association for the park’s 250th anniversary of its founding. This is a five-year project, with each year adding a new depiction of the time when Red Coats and Cherokees roamed East Tennessee. The article discusses the very human aspects of Smith's work including his models and their experience in the artistic process.

“I always find it interesting to see the behind-the-scenes activity that goes into a piece of visual art, and I’m happy that Tennessee Conservationist readers will have a chance to see a little of the artistic process of the Fort Loudoun series” Smith says about the article.

Tennessee Conservationist is published bi-monthly by the State of Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation. For information about the magazine, visit

For more information about Fort Loudoun (and to buy your own limited edition print of these paintings) go to

Smith is the Creative Director for Media South, a creative services 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. He is also available for commissions and portraits. To see more of Smith’s work, visit

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Take Action: Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work.

In the unlikely event that you haven't already heard about the Orphaned Works bill before congress, here is a summary of objections--from the following website that also makes it easy for you to communicate with your members of Congress:

This particular information is under "For Visual Artists - The Bullet Point Letter," but feel free to use any of the templates on the web site; when you fill out your address, your members of Congress will be automatically identified.


The Orphan Works Act has the potential to do great harm to those of us who create intellectual property. It is based on the Copyright Office’s study of orphaned work - yet the authors of that study have exceeded their mandate by extrapolating a widespread failure in commercial markets. This is an area which they never studied. If the intent of this bill is to find a way for museums, libraries and other not-for-profit institutions to legally exploit the creative work of authors who are hard to find, the authors should not rely on undocumented assertions about markets in which they conducted no studies.

For the record, I am alive, working and managing my copyrights. I can be located. I take steps to make myself accessible. Yet this law dictates that if any user fails to find me, that constitutes a market failure. No, that constitutes a human failure. Clients who work in my markets find me all the time.

This bill would expose countless works like mine to abuse. It would endanger any form of visual art - from professional paintings to family snapshots. It would affect any picture ever put on the internet. Visual art is especially vulnerable because an artist’s work can be published without his signature or credit line, or because credit lines can be removed by others. The widespread orphaning of images will harm not only artists, but all who work in collateral small businesses such as artists representatives, directories and source books, web site designers as well as all those industries which license art and anyone in the image-making public.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll list some basic objections I and other copyright holders have to this bill.

  • The bill is written so broadly its use cannot be confined to true orphaned work.
  • It would permit an infringer to determine when he or she has made a “reasonable effort” to locate me - even though the infringer would have a financial interest in not locating me.
  • It would be retroactive, which means I would be penalized for not complying with laws which didn’t exist at the time I did the work.
  • It would expose my future work to infringement immediately upon creation, even though I am alive, in business and managing my copyrights.
  • It would place an impossible burden of diligence on me to protect my work, because infringements can occur anytime, anywhere in the world.
  • It would force me into court to contest the diligence of an infringer’s search for me, yet it would remove any meaningful remedies for infringement.
  • This means I would lose the only means the law gives me to enforce copyright compliance.
  • It would force me into court to prove the value of my work, after the work had already been infringed and my exclusive right of copyright was lost;
  • Yet it would limit “reasonable compensation” to whatever sum an infringer had established as a market rate for his use of orphaned work.
  • By “limiting remedies,” the bill guarantees that the cost of suing an infringer could exceed whatever sum I might recover in a successful court action.
  • Yet it would set no limits on the amount an infringer could win from me in a counter suit.
  • It would deny me injunctive relief in situations where the entirety of my work has been used in a so-called “transformative” work.
  • Which would be a gold mine for infringers, who could harvest “orphans,” re-cast them as derivatives, then copyright the derivatives.
  • At present, the law does not allow infringers to claim my work by infringing it, but this bill would let them.
  • This bill would rob me of my exclusive right of copyright, which in the marketplace triples the fee I can get for one-time usage.
  • This means my entire inventory of work would be devalued by 2/3 the moment this bill takes effect.
  • This bill would prevent me from restricting the use of my art on cheap or distasteful products or on products competitive with my paying clients.
  • And it could drive my work into low-end markets where I would otherwise never license my work.
  • While the bill would not legislate “registries,”it would have the same effect, by exposing to infringement the work of artists who don’t impose registration on themselves.
  • This would force me to pay protection money to businessmen to keep something I’ve created myself.
  • This would violate existing copyright law, which says “Under current law, works are covered whether or not a copyright notice is attached and whether or not the work is registered.”
  • It would force all visual artists to expose our lives’ work to infringement to subsidize the start-up of commercial registries.
  • These registries would rely on image-recognition technology, which is still in its infancy and not reliable.
  • Also, no registry will be meaningful until all pictures which anyone wishes to protect have been registered.
  • Otherwise, any picture not found in a registry will be considered an orphan by users wishing to document a “reasonably diligent search.”
  • This means commercial registries will actually orphan copyright-protected work.
  • Which means the bill will have the opposite effect to its stated intent.

To sum up, the Orphan Works Act exceeds its mandate by promising to make orphans of any work whose author any infringer fails to find.

  • It fails to properly define the category of orphaned work.
  • It sets the infringer’s bar of due diligence so low it guarantees abuse.
  • It would force into the courts countless business decisions which should be made in the marketplace.
  • It creates problems which do not now exist, but which would require the expansion of the Federal judiciary system to solve.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama a la Russ

This is just too good not to pass along.

The Leningrad Cowboys (a Finnish rock band) singing Sweet Home Alabama with the Red Army Choir

And besides, Sweet Home Alabama is not all that different from The Motherland Calls, is it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Le Monument aux Morts

From these last two posts you'd think I have an abiding interest in sculpture, particularly war sculpture, but...well actually, maybe I do.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, a rather remote place about 30 minutes from Interstate 81 in Southwest Virginia. Bedford has the unfortunate distinction of being the community that lost the most boys on D-Day (nineteen).

The D-Day Memorial is a basically a memorial park, conceptually similar in many ways to the WW2 memorial in Washington. There are a number of sculptures around the site, which I'll leave to you to check out on your own here:, but there was one particular piece that caught my eye, distastefully at first, brilliantly on reflection.

It's called Le Monument aux Morts (which apparently means "war memorial"). The statue is a replica of an original memorial statue by Edmond de Laheudrie, that was dedicated in 1920 in the town of Trevieres, France in memory of 43 French soldiers from Trevieres who were killed in World War One. The statue is a classical female victory figure in pseudo-Poilu garb holding a sword.

Twenty-four years later, on June 8, 1944, Trevieres found itself in the the middle of not only a war, but a battle, during which the memorial itself was struck in the head by shrapnel, removing its jaw and most of its throat. After World War Two ended, the town elected to not repair the statue, but to keep it as it was, a mute and disturbing symbol of the fragility of the peace.

In 2002 the original Laheudrie statue was recast, battle damage and all, and presented by the Wildenstein family, the mayor of Trevieres and the Consul General of Calvados to the D-Day Memorial, marking the second time that the nation of France has presented a statue to the United States.

My companion described it as "very creepy and wonderful," which it is, and a most fitting memorial to the D-Day invasion and World War Two in general.

A United States M.P. and a Trevieres resident examine the fallen statue in the Summer of 1944.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Those of you have ever considered buying instructional art videos should go check out

They have an extensive collection of those usually super-expensive DVDs that I always wanted to see, but always cost too much to buy (and of course the library never has them).

They have all of Richards Schmid's landscape DVDs, which are great (I've rented them all), and they have Burt Silverman's (my favorite figure painter) DVDs. I own one of Silverman's programs on VHS, but it's such a pain to get that player to work, I just rented the DVD.

They have an affiliate program, too. So if you click through here, I get some sort of credit (so by all means click through here).

They have a bunch of non-art stuff too of course (car repair, home repair, etc) and a huge collection of Digital Art DVDs--photoshop, illustrator, flash, etc (speaking of super expensive).

Great resource!

And by the way, if you see something cool that you'd recommend, please let me know!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Motherland Calls

"The Motherland Calls" is the name of the giant statue on the hill called Mamayev Kurgan, in the city of Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, Russia (note the scale by the person standing on her base)

Today I decided it would be nice to have a statuette of this famous sculpture to put on my desk as an inspiration. In case you haven't heard (and most in the west haven't), "The Motherland Calls" (also called "Mother Motherland," or just "The Motherland," Rodina Mat) was the tallest statue in the world when it was built in 1967 (279 feet). It sits on Mamayev Kurgan, the hill overlooking Stalingrad and, in 1942, offering control of the city to whichever army could take it. Ultimately the Soviets took it, and this statue was erected 24 years later in commemoration of their victory over the Nazis.

I never found a souvenir statue for my desk; perhaps the Russians take their monuments more seriously than we do and won't demean them by turning them into souvenirs. Or maybe I just didn't look in the right place. However, I did find the following story; an interview with the woman who originally modeled for "The Motherland Calls."



15 November 2003 01:45

Statuesque beauty. It took six months for artists to persuade Valentina Izotova to take her top off for the Motherland. Now she`s glad she did:

When the sculptors asked me to model for a statue to commemorate the tremendous sacrifice of our Red Army boys at Stalingrad, how could I refuse? But I was horrified when they insisted I pose nude. This was the early 1960s and respectable girls simply didn't take their clothes off for anyone other than their husbands. Artists - even revered and famous sculptors such as Lev Maistrenko, who was working on the memorial - didn't mean anything to a woman of 26.

It was Lev who approached me. I was working as a waitress at the city's top restaurant, the Volgograd - it's still there today - and usually worked in an area reserved for top Communist Party functions or visiting delegations. Lev told me I was beautiful and embodied all the physical and moral qualities of the perfect Soviet woman. Of course I was flattered - who wouldn't be? Curiosity got the better of me and I agreed to model.

Of course none of us had a clue how famous Rodina Mat would become. Today Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) is as famous for this statue as for the terrible battle that took place here. My husband didn't like the idea of my posing for a group of artists sent from Moscow. He was terribly jealous and drove me to the studios they had set up in an old gas appliance factory for each and every session. After a while it became like any other job - I barely thought about standing there in my bikini and certainly welcomed the three roubles a day I was paid, which was a decent sum of money then. But it was six months before I finally relented and gave in to the sculptors' pleas to take my top off and bare my breasts. But that was all. I never budged in my determination to retain some modesty and never posed entirely in the nude. That was unthinkable. No one outside my family and immediate circle of friends ever knew about it.

Soon after I had completed my modelling duties I left to study for the first of my two degrees - I'm trained as an economist and an engineer. Later I left Volgograd altogether to live and worked in the polar mining city of Norilsk. After the statue was unveiled in 1967 I didn't give it much thought and just got on with my life. I came home in the early 1990s. I clearly remember that long train journey because hyper-inflation was taking off and the considerable sum of money that I set out with was practically worthless by the time I arrived. It was not an easy time. I, like many others, put my trust - and money and share vouchers - into money-making schemes. Of course it all turned out to be a scam and a lot of ordinary people lost everything. That's how I turned to social and political activism.

Today I am director of a charitable foundation to protect the rights of cheated investors and am running in December's State Duma (parliament) elections as a candidate for the United Russia Party. It's for this reason, mostly, that I decided to break nearly 40 years of silence. In the past few years the statue has become increasingly famous - you see its image everywhere. Now people recognise me in the street - not straight away - I'm not the slender young thing I was, but my features are still recognisable as those of Rodina Mat. She has stood there for nearly 40 years, her sword symbolising the defence of our homeland, one arm beckoning our men forward, mouth open in a cry of defiance. It's not me precisely, but I suppose there are elements of me in her. I no longer feel any shame in having taken off my clothes - I'm proud of what I did, proud of the sacrifice Russia made to defend itself during those dark days of the war.

I was very young during the war, but I shall never forget being evacuated from Stalingrad, along with my mother. We spent two years in Ukraine, sleeping in barns, a miserable time. The shock of coming home in 1943 to a city obliterated by war is still with me. That first winter, studying in school buildings with no roofs, I shall never forget. The Russian people still need defenders. I don't suppose that I shall be elected in December - but at least I can use what little fame Rodina Mat gives me to fight for the rights of ordinary people.

-- As told to Nick Holdsworth Valentina Izotova, a 68-year-old grandmother, was the model for Russia's most famous Soviet war memorial, Rodina Mat (Motherland Mother). For nearly 40 years she kept silent about her part in its creation

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Figure Painting Classes Coming Soon!

Starting February 6th, I'll begin teaching a six-session class on Painting the Human Figure through U.T.'s non-credit program. This is a class for beginners, but there are usually a variety of skill levels represented. This session I'll be revising my syllabus a bit from the previous years. Typically the class begins with a monochrome painting from a mannequin (because she sits very still), followed by a portrait and then a figure. This session I plan to begin with gesture drawings of the full figure and try to move more quickly to full color paintings, and I'm probably going to try to end the class with a clothed pose using either a dancer or a Yoga practitioner. Should be interesting.

Here's the official class announcement:

Working from live models, this introductory class will focus on depicting the human form through a naturalistic use of light, shadow, and color. Emphasis will be on simplifying the complex human form and developing a process by which it can be realistically portrayed. Instruction will be geared toward the use of oil, but other mediums are welcome. Knowledge of your chosen medium will be helpful, but no previous experience with figurative art is required. A materials list can be found online at and a model fee of $25-50 (depending on enrollment) will be payable to the instructor at the first class.

A materials list can be found on our web site at A model fee of approximatedly $25- $50 (depending on enrollment) is payable to the instructor at first class.

And here's a link to the signup page at U.T.: