Class #3 – 7/11 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources

Class #3 – 7/11 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources

Dondi White, speaking, wise words.

Class Discussion and image show of various NYC Writers:

Dondi White, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, SEEN & Futura 200

Blackbooks are introduced and discussed. The students  are encouraged to create their own and contribute drawings to each others books. Online resources will be introduced, discussed and explored featuring Art Crimes & @149th St. After Day #2’s Style Wars screening, we discussed the importance of Henry Chalfant & Tony Silver’s classic documentary as well as Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s book “Subway Art” aka the Graffiti Bible.

Guest Artist Presentation :: VENG aka Herb Smith will present his work and share a tagging demonstration. Herb Smith will present his current work and his evolution as an artist. Starting out as a traditional graffiti artist while simultaneously maintaining a career as a fine artist. Heavily influenced by Dutch masters, Herb’s unique style ranges from large scale 40 foot collaborative murals to smaller scale oil paintings of realistic birds, landscapes and portraits.


What did you think Herb’s presentation and story? Were you surprised to see how his work evolved in mediums, subject matter and scale?

How did graffiti and street art influence his studio work?

Leave your feedback below in the comments section


**Reminder – Thursday 7/12 – We will be meeting in NYC for a guided walking tour of downtown street art & graffiti with the Graff Tours Co.  Our class will meet at 11:00 AM  – The meeting location address is – 1 Bleecker Street in front of Think Coffee (off the corner of Bowery). Yes, you may bring a friend or two if you wish! Please be on time!

Please plan your travel to NYC with plenty of extra time.


10 Replies to “Class #3 – 7/11 – Re-Cap, Info & Resources”

  1. Really enjoyed meeting and hearing about Herb Smith’s work.
    I especially liked the comments he made about giving up trying to second guess what prospective buyers would want, and that when he painting what he wanted, the work and his satisfaction greatly increased in quality. This is a great philosophy to live by.

    Obviously his enjoyment of painting on canvas outside (on the weekends) is influenced by his graffiti creations. But I think painting an oil composition with all of its preparatory steps and extremely slow drying time is more of a matter of being diametrically opposed to the on-the-spot, quick spray-painting technique of the typical graffiti situation. With oils, Herb controls every aspect of composition, while with graffiti, there are so many factors that are simply not a part of the equation. He obviously enjoys both and respect him even more because of his versatility.

  2. I enjoyed the speech of artist Herb Smith which was very exciting. His style is very personal. The style is very important to the artist, and I agree with this. Although it is not so easy to find styles, from the perspective of Human regularity, the beginning of learning is imitation, and the unique style of herbs is greatly influenced by Dutch masters. But having a personal style is an essential element of a mature artist. He has two aspects: graffiti and oil painting. These two different expressions form a sharp contrast. Oil paintings are special, lines, light, shades and feelings, while graffiti is a kind of free expression. Herb Smith enjoys his work very much. He said that he likes oil painting very much and likes to draw birds. I also like it very much, but his ” super realistic ” style definitely makes me want to make more progress to study how to draw. More refined and agile.

  3. I appreciated that Herb started his discussion by sharing the moment he fell in love with Rembrandt at an exhibition with his grandmother. That small detail helped me understand his inspiration through the rest of his presentation. His love for Rembrandt and Renaissance painting techniques were evident in his work, even though his work was incredibly diverse.

    It was amazing to see Herb’s two drastic styles- the small scale, controlled oil paintings versus the large, free, highly stylized wall murals. Even though they differed so drastically, the two have many similarities. Around 2005/2006, Herb wanted to incorporate more of his studio techniques into his street work. The image Herb showed us of the man wearing a walrus on his head was the starting point to this transition. This pose was reminiscent of the northern renaissance style, as was the lighting and rendering of the man’s face. The interesting part, however, was the incorporation of pattern along the hair and beard. To me, the rectangular brick pattern looked like a digital image that was zoomed in and became pixilated, which added a modern twist to his work.

    Even though Herb said he would do things in murals that he would never do in his more serious gallery work, his piece of the bear and hummingbirds almost had a surrealistic quality to it. Although he had admitted that the omission of the salmon’s fin was purely accidental, the placement of the hummingbird and it’s wing, acted as a shared limb for both the bird, and the fish’s “fin.” The entire piece felt fun, energetic, and full of life, just like his mural paintings.

    Herb’s love of birds shows up in his serious gallery work, but also bleeds through onto his street art. He took the realistic bird portraits and turned that idea into a simple yet compelling bird outline which he uses on the street. Herb brings these birds to life via oil paint and wheat paste or spray paint, depending on his intent. Most interesting to me, however, is how his realistic “bird portraits” resembles these wheat pasted birds on the walls of the city. Herb prefers to only paint the portrait of the bird, leaving the background plain and simple. Because of this contrast, there is more emphasis on the bird, which looks as if it has been cut out and pasted on the canvas or board.

    It was incredible to see how Herb was able to easily switch back and forth between medium and scale in his artwork, and how the gallery work and the street work were both woven into each other, yet still remained separate. I really felt inspired by the end of his presentation, and appreciate the time he took to come in and talk with us today.

    1. Great descriptions and examples here! Well said and full of details! Stories about how one first became aware of a personal artistic influence is profound and always very inspiring. I too resonated with his connection to his first visit to see Rembrandt. Herb is indeed a prolific artist that switches across the dichotomies of his subject matter and application. I’m happy that you enjoyed his work and presentation!

  4. It was great to meet and speak with an artist who is still very active in the street art community as well as the art gallery and studio community. Herb Smith gave us great insit into how he brings his street style into his oil paintings by leaving the background blank as if the image was “pasted” on and vice versa within his street art & “square head characters” that have such realistic qualities, it tricks the eye into thinking that this was done with a medium that’s more traditional than spray paint.

    I appreciated how he has stayed true to what he wants to do and paints subject matter that interests him. Herb’s advice that you can paint things that don’t always go together or things that you enjoy and somewhere you will find an audience that likes the work enough to buy it was eye opening. I always get too caught up in what I think would sell rather than just having confidence in my own style and selling that.

    One thing that has stuck out from looking at Herb’s work was the transition from street to canvas especially with his bird portraits. I loved how he can create such a beautifully detailed oil painting of a bird while also tagging the streets with his simplified bird outline. I find it to be such a clever way to tie both worlds together.

  5. I really enjoyed and appreciate Herb Smith’s presentation and story. It was a raw and pure perspective of the real highs and real lows of being a living breathing artist. I enjoyed his honesty and openness to sharing his timeline with us. He has a great variety in work which I feel has to help keep him motivated and fresh. It is really impressive in the wide range of sizes that he works in and how he can free hand his large scale work. I love being able to point out the renaissance and dutch qualities in his artwork. It makes it so easy to appreciate his street art because you can tell he’s an intelligent artist putting a large amount of thought into his design.

  6. The lecture performed by Herb Smith and his sharing of his personal experience was interesting. I was quite amazed that the appearance of this man, with a quiet demeanor had the capacity to compose artwork on contrasting styles of oil painting and street artwork(graffiti). The Dutch influence on his work shows the simplicity, and details a focus on the object with background used to emphasize the focal point. The street artwork leaves me unsettled and puzzled at the meaning or intention. I could appreciate his fine details and color usage in the oil paintings, since oil painting was one mode in the introduction to painting for me as an artist. I was able to capture emotion and beauty through the complex process of layering of colors and planning to execute my thoughts in a lengthy process. I could feel the beauty in the simplicity of his oil paintings, and I respect his words as an artist because of the integrity that he developed to be honest to himself in self-criticisms, and choice of art to satisfy his inner self rather than produce for the purpose of money making. He inspires me with the possibility that you can choose your creative inner self and have better results, rather than conform to what you think the audience wants.

    1. Herb is a huge inspiration, he continues to inspire and amaze me with his work! This is wonderful, “He inspires me with the possibility that you can choose your creative inner self and have better results, rather than conform to what you think the audience wants.”

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