A new project will allow acclaimed Scots artist Neil Smith to make his work 'affordable for all', writes Nan Spowart

ALREADY enjoying a sterling reputation as a cartoon and caricature artist, Neil Smith is now celebrating after being chosen for a pilot project aimed at promoting his paintings. 

He is, in fact, the only painter out of the five creatives who have been selected for the Made Possible Pilot Project, which aims to support independent artists/makers to reach wider audiences and to make high quality art, craft, and design more accessible for everyone. 

A Creative United initiative, supported by National Lottery funds and Creative Scotland, Made Possible has been set up to support independent artists and designers who predominantly sell work direct to consumers via their own sales channels, rather than through gallery representation. 

“I’m honoured and delighted to be selected as I believe in creating art that’s affordable for everyone,” said Neil, who was also chosen as a “Wild Card” in 2019 and 2020 in Sky TV’s Landscape Artist of the Year. 

The programme’s judges described Neil’s art as big, bold and beautiful – a description he used for an exhibition he staged in East Kilbride Art Centre earlier this year. 

Neil’s first love was Fine Art but he took a more practical route at Glasgow College of Building and Printing and trained as a graphic designer, later working for the Scottish Police College and the Macrobert Art Centre in Stirling. 

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He then built up a career as a Caricaturist, covering events all over the UK which allowed him to experience first-hand the beauty of the landscape. 

“These travels are an inspiration in my painting,” said Neil, who describes his style as Realist Impressionist. 

“In each of my pieces my goal is to capture the essence of each subject using vivid colours and expressive brush strokes.”

Oils, acrylic and watercolour are his chosen media, with the former featuring in his studio work which he creates at his East Kilbride premises. 

He mostly uses watercolour for his work 'en plein aire', whether at home in Scotland, visiting England, Wales or along the rugged coastline of Cornwall – these are a constant source of inspiration. 

Neil has also taught art and photography at East Kilbride Arts Centre for the last 12 years but during the lockdowns these were halted, along with events where he worked as a caricaturist. The time allowed him to go back to his first love, however, and develop his landscape work at his studio. 

His subjects range from castles such as Eilean Donan, to geographical phenomenon like the Old Man of Storr, Ailsa Craig and Bow Fiddle Rock, as well as man-made structures like Cloch Lighthouse, near Gourock, which will feature in an event in Times Square, New York, in December. 

These works demonstrate the same enthusiasm that can be seen in Neil’s early cartoons and each piece is a testament to the evolution of his craft and the deeply personal connection he has with his subjects. 

The landscapes and seascapes reflect his fascination with the natural world. Sizes vary, from intimate 5”x7" creations to grand 1m x 1.5m spectacles.

“My travels have inspired me and I’ve been very lucky in being able to see and paint such stunning places,” said Neil. 

“I’m also extremely honoured to be chosen for the Made Possible Pilot project – I applied at the beginning of the year but then didn’t hear anything for quite a long while so it was a thrill to find out I had been selected.” 

Made Possible is an extension of the successful Own Art initiative, a UK wide initiative that makes buying contemporary art and craft affordable by providing interest-free credit for the purchase of original work. 

Neil's new website features a diverse collection of landscapes, seascapes, and portraits, all conveniently curated under the banner 'creating art affordable for all'. Explore the 
beauty of these creations at www.neilgsmithart.co.uk