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Solo show on view at Performing Arts Studio in Norman.

A solo exhibit featuring oils by Stephen Smith is on view through Oct. 31 at the Performing Arts Studio in Norman.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN Published: September 16, 2012

— Thick paint, applied to the surface of oils by Stephen Smith, make a strong impression on the viewer, combined with his landscape subjects, in a show at the Performing Arts Studio.

“I love the abstract part of painting such as color, line, value ... and paint application but I still need the subject to make a painting truly rewarding,” said Smith, a Broken Arrow artist who majored in art at the University of Tulsa.

“I can enjoy the surface of a painting up close but when I step back the subject comes into focus. ... I find that magical,” he added, noting that Claude Monet was an early inspiration for his work.

Particularly Monet-like in terms of both subject and paint handling is a 24-by-30-inch oil in which three sunlit pink blossoms in a lily pond are the “Three Amigos” of its title.

An aspen grove provides us with a “Towering Inferno” of yellow-golden color, while breaking waves provide a turbulent background for three “Seagulls by the Seashore” in two more compositions.

“The Painted Desert” spreads out before us like a magic carpet of many colors, leading to the distant horizon, helping to make Smith's well-handled oil of this often attempted subject memorable.

Light, shadow and vibrant dabs of color interact dynamically in Smith's close-up study of flowers, planted and potted, growing in “My Garden.”

More abstract is his vertically hung oil of “Sunflowers,” sprouting in front of the sky, that seem to exist in their own space, and totally dominate the picture plane.

Smith's show is well worth visiting during its run through Oct. 31.

— John Brandenburg