In the studio with David Brian Smith

David Brian Smith in his studio, 2010 David Brian Smith in his studio, 2010 - Photo Helen Sumpter
Posted: Fri Jul 9 2010

David Brian Smith's multi-layered paintings, made with a combination of oil paint, fluorescent pigment and gold leaf, have a futuristic, almost spiritual quality and often feature a figure within landscape. His latest exhibition titled 'Great Expectations' includes a recurring subject of a shepherd with his head bowed, standing among his flock. His studio is in Hackney Wick.

You grew up on a farm. How autobiographical is your work?

'The shepherd is based on a picture of someone unknown from a newspaper from the 1920s. It's a very powerful image in itself but also resonates for me because my father, who died in 2005, kept sheep which were his pride and joy, despite being more of a cheap lawnmower than a source of income.'

Is the 'shepherd' series ongoing?

'I have just started two more, one of which you can see behind me in the studio, although at present it's just a sketch and you won't see any of those colours once it's finished. I want different things to happen in the paintings so working from one image provides parameters within which I can experiment.'

Pastel colours can be problematic yet they work in your paintings. What's your secret?

'You're right - someone said to me recently, “I saw your painting and I hate pastel colours but I loved it” Maybe because the subjects aren't sweet it allows me to include fluoro and candy colours. People have also described my paintings as “very unfamiliar”, which strangely they are to me too and there's something quite exciting in that.'

'Great Expectations' continues at Carl Freedman Gallery until July 31 2010