Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelley Kolman Smith.
Shelley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started drawing and painting my own children and before long, my friends and neighbors asked if I would do their children’s portraits. I worked in graphite, watercolor and oil until I took a sculpting workshop from Creative Art Center and realized that sculpting was truly my calling. My first bronze won a competition for Liturgical art and ended up on the cover of Ministry and Liturgy Magazine. From there, I began exhibiting my sculptures at Catholic Conferences where I would meet building committees and Art and Environment groups. In less than 13 years I now have sculptures all over the country, from San Francisco to Washington, DC, and Rochester, NY to Lake Charles, LA. This year we installed a sculpture in Apex, NC of Jonah and the Fish, a grouping of three Wisemen and Mary with a child Jesus in Oklahoma City, and a St. Ignatius in Rochester, NY. I can truly say that my journey was one that could not be planned or anticipated.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have been some interesting adventures associated with doing large life size sculptures, most of which involve the problem solving on how to get a large clay piece to the foundry without it falling apart. In this business, it’s also feast or famine. I’ve learned to be patient during the slow times and use that time to hone a skill or clean the house. I’d have to say the biggest challenge is in not knowing when the next job will come in. Two years ago, I was in a lull and received THREE commissions on the SAME day. When I started out, I was working in a small bonus room over the garage where I built a large sculpture to show at my first conference. We had to hire some muscle to get it down the stairs. It didn’t sell so, needless to say, it never made it back up the stairs and ultimately melted in the garage. After that we had a large studio built in the backyard.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Flying Paint Ranch Sculpture Studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m known for my delicate faces which show a glimpse of personality. The comment I get from most of my portraits is that they appear to be about to breathe. Now that’s a compliment! I love that people instantly recognize the subject. I try to create a sense of motion and joy within my work. My Liturgical pieces tell a story and I work to portray a sense of peace and tranquility within them.
I dearly love collaborating with clients, from the beginning concepts, to sketches, to maquettes, to the life size piece. My clients are always welcome to come out for a visit while I work. Their feedback is extremely important to me. A fresh set of eyes may notice something that’s not quite right, while I, after working so closely sometimes don’t see it. I also encourage my clients to follow me to the foundry and watch the process there. It’s really exciting to see the bronze being poured, or welded or patina’d. Many of my clients have the maquettes cast, too. For churches, this is a great fundraiser as I offer that for merely the foundry costs. It’s my way of letting the client know how much I appreciate them.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My next large commission is for a church in the Houston area, of course, due to the hurricane, that is delayed a bit, so in the meantime I’m planning to start to work on a large sculpture of St. Michael the Archangel. This is a piece I’ve thought about for quite some time. I’m quite excited about the intricate detail I have in mind for it. I also am planning to work on some terra cotta portraits.
I take each day one at a time. Whatever God needs me to do, I’ll do.
I hope to never retire. I would love to be sculpting on my last day.
- Address: 18730 FM 1565,
Terrell, TX 75160
- Website: ShelleyKolmanSmith.com
- Phone: 214-734-9133
- Email: Shelley@ShelleyKolmanSmith.com
- Instagram: flying_paint_ranch