‘I had a hard time finding a market. Now I can rely on word-of-mouth.’

Artist Craig Smith Dow

The artist surrounded by canvases in his Somerville NB studio which will be open to the public Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7, 2015.

Craig Smith Dow is a self-taught artist who began his professional career in commercial photography after graduation from the journalism program at the New Brunswick Community College in Woodstock. He travelled extensively throughout Canada with the Katimavik volunteer program and then on to the USA independently (“I skipped large cities and Interstates,” he notes) before settling, for a time, in Toronto and then returning to New Brunswick. (Want more information? He has a biographical video online.)

Dow’s first group show was at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Gallery in 2000 when one of his paintings was chosen for the McCain Contemporary Atlantic Art Biennale. Dow’s extensive portfolio is available online.

His lino-cut prints (shown here on the left with the plate at right) can be purchased at the new Creek Village Gallery and Café in downtown Woodstock while his paintings can be seen at his Somerville NB workshop as part of the Art in the Valley Studio Tour, June 6 and 7, 2015

Before art you worked for many years as a photographer. Tell me about that.
I worked in a photo lab at first, then got a job as an assistant ─ a “gofer” ─ in a commercial photo studio in Toronto. After five months there, I got really lucky. A couple of photographers left and I started shooting for clients like Canadian Tire and K-Mart. It was good practical experience and I stayed there for six years. Then I went free-lance doing mostly catalogue work.

As a free-lancer, I suppose you had a specialty of some kind?
Jewellery. I started shooting that for Sears. It was quite fussy work in those days (the early 1990s) when we worked exclusively with film. The hardest part was trying to capture the sparkle.

Click the video icon at the bottom of this page to hear the artist talk
about the probable evolution of this piece.
And at some point you took up painting…
I started painting after moving back to Fredericton in 1995. Actually, I had been exploring art with my photography… painterly images, some of them quite abstract. But I found that too confining. In photography, you spend a lot of time on one object. I needed something with no real structure and a larger scale. I needed a change of medium.

A lot of your canvases are quite large.
I find that small doesn't work so well for my art.

Part of my attraction to painting is being able to work larger-scale and to be able to express things that I couldn't with photography.

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But I suppose that your photographic background has influenced your art.
Definitely. Photography has provided a tremendous foundation. Shooting is all about composition, all about light and controlled colour. For instance, in photography we use filters for sometimes barely perceptible lighting effects. That training has helped me see colour with extreme precision. My artwork tends to be colourful but I keep trying to get away from that.

You’re looking for a somewhat darker feeling then?
I had a show at the Charlotte Street Art Centre in Fredericton last fall and of the four paintings that sold, three were on the more sombre side. The fourth was brighter but the subject, vertigo, well… it wasn’t exactly happy.

Craig, I’m looking at your business card here where you identify yourself as a “metaphysical aesthete”. I confess, that puzzles me.
The definition continues to evolve but today it is about the beauty of irony and pathos… something like that.

Dow talks about his technique and challenges

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