Artist Portrait: Rachel Wolfson Smith

Rachel Wolfson Smith, EAST 2018 - Austin, Texas

Rachel Wolfson Smith, EAST 2018 – Austin, Texas

For my second artist portrait, I feature Rachel Wolfson Smith. Unlike some artists who share a studio space, Rachel had her own room with giant works on display. You can see two of her drawings behind her. It’s a working studio and not simply a gallery space. I saw a particularly large work less than half-way completed, on the other side of the room.

Her medium of choice is pencil, with many layers of details showing though. Unlike thick oil paint on canvas, which has a physical 3D effect, pencil is subtle and equally complicated. While flat, not having the thickness of paint, the successive pencil strokes doesn’t fully cover the details underneath. You get a complex layering effect which also feels three-dimensional.

Rachel started with paint, which she studied throughout her undergraduate education. More recently, she switched to pencil, which was a big change, she explained. I saw some of her earlier architectural themed works with paint, which were significantly different. Though I’m not an artist, I could understand how much of a shift it must have been.

Rachel Wolfson Smith, EAST 2018 - Austin, Texas

Rachel Wolfson Smith, EAST 2018 – Austin, Texas

I often create portraits in darker conditions, which you usually see at Drink and Clicks. I wanted to create a more dramatic portrait. With Rachel’s permission, I turned off the lights and ask her to move towards the window. The image above is the result.

Rachel Wolfson Smith’s work can be found at

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3 thoughts on “Artist Portrait: Rachel Wolfson Smith

  1. Andy, you are a talented portrait photographer. I’ve been telling you that for years. Hopefully this branching out from your usual Drink and Click work means you are finally starting to believe it.

    1. Thank you as always, Mike. I’m using photography as a creative process. Each thing I do, hopefully, builds on my previous work and I hope to keep on expanding what I do.

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