Big Bend Arts Council


  PO Box 1764, Alpine, TX  79831

JR Smith

“Color has been known to influence a person’s mood and attitude. That being the case, I hope my colors can produce a pleasing experience. I strive to record unique people, places and things in an enjoyable image.”

I value the overall image over extreme detail. (It took twenty years to get over that hump.) Like designers on press checks tell pressmen to: “Pump up the color”, I too, like to “pump it up”. Nature and the world around us offer a kaleidoscope of inspiration daily.

Art consultants and critics prefer an artist stick to one area of style and subject matter. Over thirty years ago while painting on the ranch I was referred to as a “cowboy artist”. There’s a certain confinement to that label that was resisted. When an art critic described my work as “feel good art’ rather than “fine art”, I felt I had arrived at my destination. When a client tells me the picture takes them back to that favorite place, event or memory, I feel I have done my job.

I love the freedom to paint what I want and not be constrained to one subject. Personally there is no need to produce offensive, shocking or depressing images. The news media and entertainment industry supplies us with enough of that. Life is too short and as an old country song says: “I ain’t got time to be unhappy”.

So for now, I choose, and am delighted to produce “feel good art” for people that want to feel good and enjoy life.


Day Work Specialist

Ghost Home

Spring Ocotillo and Dove


Directed by family to not waste my time on art, I continued to draw in the early years. I won my first award in the third grade from those efforts against students up through sixth grade. Junior high found me having to take Latin as my elective (boy do I use that a lot). There was no time or place for art at the high school level either. I had to settle for sketching from action photos in the Rodeo Sports news.

Finally in the 70’s I was able to have a dedicated studio while teaching a summer and a semester in Southern California. My vacationing mother grabbed some things in the studio and framed them. She then entered them in the monthly show of the Carlsbad Oceanside Art League. Two were large watercolor ranch pictures for clients back in Texas. At that time, if it wasn’t a seagull or beach scene they didn’t pay much mind to it. However, prisma colored pencils had just come out. With a new set I drew a lion’s head on the kid’s orange construction paper. She framed it too and it won an honorable mention along with all the beach and seascapes.

It was in the mid 80’s before I could, again have studio space to work in. Ordinarily I don’t enter shows, since I feel there is no real way to compare “apples for apples”. Each artist is a different apple, with a different inspiration and interpretation! The same goes for each judge. Still I entered four shows that year to get a feel for how my work would be evaluated. I won four shows (two divisions of the State Fair of Texas watercolor show, both the architectural and abstract divisions).

With a new studio in Dallas, an artist friend encouraged me to enter a nationally juried show in New York. The jury picked the work of seventeen artists from across the country and my work was one of the pieces. During that period my work was selected for a national juried show in Colorado and one in Texas. The Greenwood Gallery in Dallas had a Texas Artist Juried Show and a piece was selected for it also.

At that time my friend introduced me to his New York agent and art consultant. She raved about my work but stressed that I needed to pick one thing and concentrate on that theme or subject matter. So far I haven’t taken her advice. I love doing art, so that I don’t have to do the same thing all the time.

Soon after, I was selected for a one-man show at the Eiseman Center for the Arts in Richardson, Texas. My studio time became limited as I painted a three wall mural for the Victim’s Outreach Center, just South of SMU in Dallas, then also. In the studio I had a commission for the Hyatt Regency Hotel at DFW Airport. Their parent company commissioned 20 Texas artists to each take a 20” x 20” canvas with a particular assignment for it. Mine was to portray a pair of Lucchese Boots without labeling it as such.

I stood a boot beside a four poster bed with another lying against it. The bed had a muted Indian blanket on it and a Lucchese Boot Box under the bed. They thought that worked well. During the same period a mural panel was completed for a Cooper’s Aerobic center location in South Dallas.

Since returning to West Texas in 2005 various inventories of my art have been shone in numerous one-man and group shows. Three commission mural panels were done for a restaurant in Fort Davis in 2006. In 2011 a mural panel was done for the entryway of the new Big Bend Cowboy Church East of Alpine. A five month project was a total redoing of the Alpine Chamber of Commerce mural. This mural faces the AMTRAK passenger ramp behind Miguel’s Fina on Holland Avenue.

New owners from New England have been doing a major remodel of the historic Holland Hotel. An award winning painting, view from the dining area of the Hotel Americana in Cabo San Lucas to outside blooming bougainvilleas, was recently purchased for use in the remodel.

“J R work” hangs in homes and businesses from Italy to Canada, from New York City to Florida and From Texas to California. Gallery shipping nightmares and expenses have led to the decision to only show where work can be hand delivered and picked up. Work is only shipped to clients now and with great care. The present studio allows for work in oils, acrylics and watercolors, along with mixed media and diverse work, in spite of New York consultants!