“no excuses, no regrets… lots of beards”


Oh, that dapper man and his electric blue beard. Love. On this episode I’m talking to LA based painter Aaron Smith. I was lucky enough to meet Aaron when I was in LA a few weeks ago. He’s a good friend {and former teacher} of Martha Rich. Aaron arranged for us to come and speak to the students at the Art Center College of Design, where he happens to be an associate professor, and the associate chair of the illustration department. I liked him instantly… it might have been his warm personality, his big curly beard, his amazing tattoos, or the fact that he made me and Martha the strongest cup of coffee either of us has ever consumed. Whatever it was, I was in! I wanted him to be my friend, and what better way to make that happen than to have him on the podcast. You can listen right underneath the blue-bearded gentleman, or you can subscribe on iTunes.

First, I have to show you a few pieces from his “Museo” series. When he was telling his childhood backstory, he mentioned that he and his twin brother loved museums and would even set up their own museum-like displays at home. So amazing, AND it makes these pieces make even more sense:


Oh my word. His colors, those brushstrokes… sigh. {This body of work was Aaron’s first show after his three years of experimentation/break from showing that he mentioned.}

Alright, I can’t very well have Aaron Smith on the site without showing as many bearded men as I possibly can. I asked him, “Why all the beards?”, and his answer was fantastic {listen to the podcast!}:


Oh, that paint looks like icing! And look at those candy-hued colors! Very peacock-ish, yes?

Alright, here’s my favorite blue-bearded fella from the top of the post. This is the painting that took my breath away when I walked into Aaron’s house. Here he is, in all his glory, on Aaron’s living room wall:


Gorgeous! The second painting shown above is the other piece of Aaron’s work that’s hanging in his house. And yes, I also gasped out loud when I saw this one {it’s really big too!}

One of my favorite things to show in these posts, is an artist in his/her habitat … so here’s a peek at Aaron’s studio, and a little look into his office at Art Center:


So. Cool. Ok, I may have thrown those in so you could see his amazing beard. Please note the Martha Rich painting just over his shoulder. Such a brilliant gang of friends these guys have!

Alright, now you’ve seen his beard up close, time for a few of his tattoos. The not-so-speedy speed round revealed Aaron’s two favorites {although he had a hard time choosing}:


Tribal art from Papua New Guinea on his hands, and the artwork of Bill Traylor on his neck. Cool, smart, funny, generous, and passionate… yes, I want to be his friend, and I think we might be on our way! Thank you so much to Aaron for fitting me into his very busy schedule; HUGE high fives to Mrs. Mazzoni for changing the course of Aaron’s artistic life on that day in the sixth grade; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode; and thanks to YOU for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Art Center College of Design
  2. La Luz de Jesus Gallery
  3. Mark Todd & Esther Pearl Watson
  4. Souther Salazar
  5. Gallery Victor Armendariz, Chicago {Aaron’s current group show}
  6. Sloan Fine Art, LA


comments (12)

  1. marianne clancy /// 03.04.2017 /// 8:26am

    generous impasto~full on great color~wild and wonderful vision~love the portraits…..alot!

  2. Tess Felix /// 03.04.2017 /// 10:02am

    Aaron Smiths paintings and especially his portraits are dazzling. My being resonates with his color blending. Well done, Aaron. I would love to see these in person.

    Tess Felix

  3. Ioana Dorofteiu /// 03.04.2017 /// 12:18pm

    This was an amazing episode! Also when you said this is the last question I thought :Please let it be a ‘would you rather question’ Please have one in each episode!

  4. stephanie /// 03.04.2017 /// 5:27pm

    In love with his work!! I need one of his paintings in my life. This episode is SO awesome and full of cool insights I will keep thinking about. Thank you D!!!

  5. the jealous curator /// 03.04.2017 /// 8:21pm


  6. Julie /// 03.04.2017 /// 11:06pm

    And another gem of a podcast! Beautiful work and Aaron’s energy is just fantastic!

  7. the jealous curator /// 03.05.2017 /// 10:57am


  8. Mark Allen Miller /// 03.05.2017 /// 6:08pm

    No mention of Christian Clayton? I wonder why.

  9. Aaron Smith /// 03.05.2017 /// 8:28pm

    Oh yes Mark! Christian was my studio mate back in the day as well. Good times.

  10. Melissa Jander /// 03.08.2017 /// 9:22am

    Oh gosh, this is one of my favorite podcasts and posts of yours. It was great hearing about Aaron’s journey, so humble and honest. Those paintings! I take your podcast with me on my morning walks. Thank you for all the work you do, Danielle. You are a gifted communicator and artist. What a cool combo! Brava!

  11. the jealous curator /// 03.08.2017 /// 10:11am

    thanks so much melissa – so happy to be along for your walks (and yes, aaron is amazing!)

  12. Nic Koller /// 05.22.2017 /// 7:15pm

    Supercool works Aaron & great episode Danielle. It’s encouraging to hear about your journey. I lappreciate that you’re doin your thing regardless of commercial pressures.

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