Arkansas Farm — Paintings of the American South
Arkansas Farm is a remarkable art series that spans several decades, featuring Southern rural scenes on and around the farmland that belonged to the artist's grandparents in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. As a native Arkansan, Terry frequently visited his grandparents in the Arkansas Delta and regarded it as a second home. One of the most formative moments of his artistic journey occurred when he was just five years old, sitting next to his aunt as she painted on the kitchen table. She would often paint small canvases and iron plow points. It was during this moment that Terry painted his first oil painting, which would ultimately become the first piece in his art series.
Terry would not return to painting the farm until 15 years later, but he continued to capture the essence of the farm through photography for the next three decades. Many of the striking photographs included in his series have become highly coveted limited editions, sought after by discerning private and corporate collectors alike. Terry's unique ability to capture the beauty of rural life has been recognized by publications worldwide, with many of his photographs in the series licensed for various uses across diverse platforms.
Terry's early experiences on the farm had a profound and lasting impact on his artistic vision and approach, inspiring him to create a diverse and captivating body of work that poignantly captures the essence of rural life. His paintings and photographs are a tribute to the enduring allure of the rural landscape, encapsulating the beauty and vitality of a way of life that remains deeply ingrained in the American consciousness.
Acrylic and marble dust on canvas
Frame built by artist
Signed on bottom-right
Canvas: 22 H x 22 W x 0.75 in
Frame: 26.75 H x 26.5 W x 1 in (68 H x 67 W x 3 cm)
At night in the flat Delta farmland of Northeast Arkansas the stars are incredibly bright. With no lights on the horizon, except for perhaps the flashing lights atop a radio tower far off in the distance, it is dark. Very, very dark. In the summer the mosquitoes will eat you alive, but from autumn to early spring the cool nights are a wonderful time to go out with binoculars and look up at the stars.
Arkansas Telescope is inspired from those childhood memories of the colorful celestial sky that I observed from my grandfather’s farm in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. The particular scene that it depicts is an imagined one. My grandfather didn’t have a grain silo, but there were others nearby. The frame for this painting was created by me using barn wood from my grandfather’s barn which I collected and saved after it had collapsed.
— Terry Smith, 21 June 2017
Acrylic, chalk, and oil pastel on cradled wood panel
24 H x 36 W x 1.5 in
Arkansas Farm depicts my grandparent’s farm from my youth on the outskirts of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. It is a continuation of a multi-decade body of work of paintings and photography about the farm. Watch the video for more about that.
This painting is a 2’ by 3’ acrylic painting on a cradled wooden panel, and it was my first painting on a large wood surface. From the beginning I wanted to utilize the hardness of the surface in ways that canvas doesn’t allow. Using only palette knifes and wire brushes to paint with, I alternated between flat, creamy smooth paint under the palette knife to forcefully hitting the canvas with the wire brush. I also used marble dust for texture and chalk and oil pastels for highlights.
During the winter the uniform greens and yellows of the crops gave way to every shade of beige and brown. This dirt road had its own character as well. Parts of it seemed to never change while others would shift and change as the tractors came in and out of the fields over the season.
My grandfather could remember when all of this land had been covered with trees. Long before it was farmland Native Americans hunted on this land. My grandfather picked up hundreds of arrowheads over the years. He would be plowing the field for atop his tractor see an arrowhead and stop to pick it up. The trees int the distance line the Cache River and this area was likely a hunting ground, but there was also a story passed down that a battle had been fought here.
— Terry Smith, 2015
Oil on canvas
14 H x 18 W in
36 H x 46 W cm
Frame refinished by the artist
Mamaw & Papaw’s House
Oil on canvas
16 H x 20 W in
41 H x 51 W cm
Signed bottom-right and on reverse. Dated "August 1995" on reverse.
This was the house that my grandparents on my mother's side lived in on their farm in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. All of the work in my Arkansas Farm series was done here and in the vicinity. I was twenty-years-old when I painted this from a photograph that I had taken many years earlier. By that time my grandparents had moved off of the farm and into town, but I was still visiting the farm regularly for photography. This painting hung in their house until they had both passed away.
1980, artist age 5
Oil on canvas panel
8 H x 10 W in
Barn-wood frame (pictured below) made of wood from adjacent shed by the artist's father, Jerry Don Smith.
When I was a child my aunt painted farm scenes on small canvases and objects like iron plow points. I can very clearly remember sitting beside her at my grandmother's kitchen table and painting my first oil painting of the barn. I was five-years-old at the time. I remember being inside that barn, but it was torn down not long after. I think by that time there were more spider webs and dust holding it together than nails.
To the right of where the barn had been was another building which we called "the shed" until enough time had past that it became "the barn". The building that you frequently see in my photography of the farm was of that building.
— Terry Smith