The Moms

Laura Smith Blair

ArtistTiburon, CAStory & Photos by Lauri Levenfeld
For Laura Smith Blair art has become a voice for her vision and a vision for her voice. From a very early age, LSB found her passion in painting and as a means for expressing her deepest concerns, fears and revelations about society, the environment, and the world around her. In her ongoing series “Nature Interrupted”, Laura intersects the abstract with a heightened sense of realism conveying her confusion and feelings of disruption in reconstructed views of the California Landscape. And through Laura’s latest obsession with bees, LSB creates “warrior-like” hexagonal shields to symbolize the unity and order in nature via the masterpieces of these small, yet critical creatures. A reminder to us all that when we impact nature, our lives are directly impacted. We all need to stand up as warriors to defend what’s ultimately good and life-sustaining. 

1. Who are you? What were you like as a child?

I am a mother, a wife, an artist. I have two teenagers, live in Marin County, and am married to an entrepreneur, who is one of the founders of World Wrapps restaurants. I was an only child (though I have a half sister). I was more on the shy side, very observant. I spent a lot of time on the beaches in Carmel and Pebble Beach. I have a lot of interesting friends who have gone on to pursue their dreams, ironically not driven by money. I drew and painted starting in first grade in my free time.


2. When did art come into your life and why?

Art came into my life as a first grader. I remember painting still lifes in my free time and we had an incredible art program in my elementary and high school. I spent all of my free time in the art room because it was a comfortable place for me, quiet and in solitude.

3. Tell us about the bees.

I began reading about bees about five years ago and became quite overwhelmed thinking about the struggles facing their existence. I dove into following different social media accounts and became fascinated by how they have created the perfect shape in nature, the hexagon, which utilizes space efficiently. Every third bite we eat comes from their hard work. We can all plant wild flowers that haven’t been sprayed by pesticides and can even host a beehive in our yards or rooftop gardens. We need to buy honey from local beekeepers and not from large corporations from China.


4. How has art and social impact intersected for you?

The theme of my paintings, “Nature Interrupted”, embrace the responsibility of bringing to light current concerns about our environment. My lines represent the static and chaos of everyday life. My landscapes reconstruct a contemporary view of the California landscape. My everyday concerns about our future world become part of my every choice made in my paintings.

5. What are your goals as a creative and as a community member?

My goals as an artist are to never stop painting and creating. I challenge myself daily with the time I spend painting and look out into each year to see what will I accomplish? What will I sell? Where will I sell my paintings? How will I improve as a painter? I also want to support the children and families that live in the shadows of Marin County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country. One plan is to develop a program where families that are able can donate sports supplies (starting in kindergarten) to kids in towns like Marin City and the Canal district in San Rafael,  so these kids have the same access to playing sports as any other child does here in Marin. By the time kids get to high school, their chances of making a team or having rides to practices and games are not easy. I would love to bring more awareness to this issue and for our community, as well as, rideshare companies help support the underserved with rides to and from practices and to games.


6. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by our youth!! What I have seen happen in Parkland gives me hope that are children are the future leaders that we desperately need. They are not afraid of the NRA and are not motivated only by money. I am always inspired by anyone’s incredible journey to greatness. One of my greatest mentors was  a man I worked alongside after college. He was painting large photorealist murals in the Monterey County. An immigrant of South Korea, his first job in the US was a dishwasher in a local restaurant. He told the owner he could paint a mural in the restaurant and his talent was discovered. He taught me how to work hard as an artist and would correct me every 

day, telling me to paint the same stroke hundreds and thousands of times over and over. His name is Dong Sun Kim and can be found painting in Monterey County.


7. How do you juggle motherhood and art?

Juggling motherhood and art has never been easy. Perhaps it was hardest when they were young and my desire to accomplish a lot of painting was not being met. I have drawings from our son illustrating me selling my paintings at my art show.  I know he could feel the excitement. It always amazed me how much my kids at a young age absorbed my eternal pursuit and life as an artist. Having them has been the greatest gift to me as an artist, because they taught me how to become extremely flexible with my time. When I have an hour to paint, I can begin painting in the first minute and when I hear, “mama,” I can drop my brush literally and be there for them.


8. What is your painting process?

I usually have five projects going at once. I now believe this is some sort of creative form of  ADD going on in my mind. I will be painting on one piece and thinking of the two beside it, moving fluidly between

them. It allows me to deal with any frustrations that come up with a painting,  allowing me to move on from something I am hating. I do not sketch out work because I am impatient and my sketches do not translate to the canvas. But I do map them out in my head and may begin with some pencil lines on the canvas. I also have multiple styles going on in my head. They all relate in theme. I can see as time goes on I am becoming more and more abstract in my process.

9. What was your a-ha moment? Your biggest challenge?

Unfortunately I had many friends pass on at an early age and what that taught me was to do what you love and make every day count as best you can. How do I want to look back at my life and be remembered by is important to me. My biggest challenge was overcoming eating disorder when I was younger. It’s a complicated issue which I have given a lot of thought to why my mind went on lock down for some years, but one thing I realized for sure was that our minds can overcome anything. And I really have no judgements on youth and

their behaviors and have more understanding towards adults who may be spinning in their own universes as well. Really for me, I just needed to turn my deep thoughts towards my art and take off.


10. What’s next for Laura Smith Blair?

I plan to paint and create my best work year after year. I plan to speak the truth as a citizen in this country and work on areas in Marin County that desperately need our help.


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