Emily Elizabeth Guthrie Smith
Emily or "Emmy" as her family called her, was simply an extremely good artist. She always seemed to act 40 years younger than her age, as one of her nephews pointed out. She would be full of some story or joke that kept your attention. Emmy was always going somewhere, and had a full, active life being engrossed in all aspects, not only for herself, but others. She was known as a very caring, loving person.
Emily Guthrie Smith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 8, 1909, the daughter of William Craton Guthrie and Lillian Fakes. She studied at the Texas Women's University in Denton, the University of Oklahoma, and for a time at the Art Student's League in New York City under Robert Brackman. Later she studied with Mitchell Jamieson and Frederic Taubes.
Her artistic training began early. After five years of piano ["Daddy gave me five years of piano before I could have one art lesson. He thought every young girl should have music, but he wasn't so sold on art."], Mrs. Smith began art lessons with Christina MacLean, at the old Fort Worth College.
In 1978, she wrote "It seems that I was born to be an artist. When I was five, my Aunt Grace took me sketching with her. I drew a house in correct perspective and scale which pleased her so much that she sent it to Mother with a note saying, 'Your daughter is going to be an artists.' I still have it. From the beginning I did so well in art at school that at age eleven I began private lessons with a fine teacher. She made me draw from the object for three years before I was allowed to use color. My interest continued through high school and college and on up to the present and I haven't regretted a day of it."
Mrs. Smith taught at the Fort Worth Art Center from 1955 to 1970. She was a member of the faculty at the Taos Institute of Creative Orientation (New Mexico) during the summers of 1962 and 1963, and conducted her own summer workshops in Las Vegas or Ruidosa, New Mexico from 1964 through 1968. In 1969 she was invited to teach special courses in Advance Portrait Painting at Texas Christian University.
She noted "I am a realist painter because I can't help it, and am glad that I've stuck with it. Just because a work of art sells doesn't mean it is good. Many artists have technical skills but say nothing. I try to maintain the highest standards of creative, imaginative painting, yet produce a painting you can read and one that has universal appeal.
I want to paint with my heart and my mind regardless of the size or the medium or even subject matter. I want to give you a painting where you can see how it has thrilled me, whether it is happy, poignant, exciting, loud or quiet - never sentimental or gimmicky. I have always enjoyed helping others and sharing the secrets I have learned, and I have also learned form them. Many of my students I have kept for friends."
"To me every painting is special. Now I want to paint more of the beauty of nature but whether it is a landscape or portrait I try to go into or behind the subject to the essence and then show the dignity, the character, the inner being of the flowers, the mountains or the person. When I do this I am happy."
Her basic philosophy about painting was that the spirit or excitement of a subject, if it can be projected, is more important than whatever technique is used. For her, technical expertise is the ability to record a scene, or object. But without the visual human experience, as she called it, there is nothing to move the viewer, or to separate it from a photograph. This didn't mean she threw technique out the window, but she did not worry about laps here and there if the work springs to
Mrs. Smith was one of the major American artists recorded through slides, letters and papers in the Archives of American Artists at the Smithsonian Institution.
The first paintings Emily sold were portraits. She did children and when her friends saw them, they wanted her to do their children. Then she started charging for them. "This was during the Depression...and I made a pretty good living."
Paintings by Emily Guthrie Smith have been selected for national exhibitions as well as numerous invitational and juried exhibitions in the Southwest. She has won awards in local and national shows since 1932. She has painted over 2000 portraits since those Depression years. Some of the most notable were the past House Majority Leader Jim Wright for the hanging in the Rotunda of the State Capitol in Austin, Mary Martin and her family, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's grandchildren,
sculptress Electra Waggoner Biggs, Paul Whiteman's daughter, and assorted governors, senators, college presidents and deans, and elected officials.
She was also a producer of murals and mosaics, a continuous exhibitor and frequent prize winner in competitive shows, and a teacher in many fields.
She was a member of the Pastel Society of America from 1975 (elected to their Hall of Fame in 1985), Fort Worth and Dallas Museums of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Metropolitan Museum and the National Society of Arts and Literature.
AWARDS, RECOGNITION, & EXHIBTIONS:
1978 received the "National Award for Best Floral" - Pastel Society of America
Listed in Who's Who in American Art since 1965
The Southern States Art League Award
Philbrook Museum in Tulsa Award
Accepted in the Mainstreams '77 at Marietta College in Ohio
Received honors with many one-man shows throughout the Southwest, including the Fort Worth Museum of Fine Arts, the Wichita Falls Museum of Fine Arts, and Longview Museum and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.
The American Water Color Society - New York
National Watercolor Annual - Jackson, Ms
Philbrook Museum - Tulsa, Ok
Southern States Art League Annual - Memphis, Tn
Virginia Biennial - Richmond Museum of Fine Arts
Oakland Art Gallery - Oakland, Ca
Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions - Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
Fort Worth and Tarrant County Annuals - Ft. Worth Art Center Museum
Annual invitational Exhibition - Longview, Tx
El Paso Museum Association Exhibition
Annual Exhibitions - Beaumont Museum - Beaumont, Tx
Texas Fine Arts Associations Annuals, Laguna Gloria Museum - Austin, Tx
Exhibition of Southwestern Prints and Drawings - Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
McNay Museum - Pastel Society of America - Austin, Tx
Witte Museum, San Antonio, Tx
University Art Museum , University of Texas, Austin, Tx
Juried Arts Festival Exhibition - Tyler, Tx
Santa Fe Annual, Santa Fe Museum, Santa Fe, Nm
Texas Artist, Texas Pavilion at the Hemisfair, San Antonio, Tx
Texas Painting and Sculpture, 20th Century, Pollock Galleries, Southern
Methodist University, Dallas, Tx
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Tx
Texas Tech Museum, Lubbock, Tx
Mainstreams '77, Marietta College, Marietta, Oh
National Open Competition, Pastel Society of America, New York, Ny