Meet Becki Smith

Becki is a local artist, meaning someone I actually know In Real Life and who lives here, in the middle of the West Texas desert. She has an a-m-a-z-i-n-g studio they had built right next to their house:

Becki Smith's studio. Photo by Earl Zachery

and it’s full of the most amazing collections you can imagine:

from Becki Smith's studio. Photo by Earl Zachery

(You can go here to see more photos.)

Recently Becki did me a HUGE favor and took away some of the paper and supplies that desperately needed a new home after the studio make-over when I had the windows installed, and she was telling me about these bags she had been altering. They are sooooo cool, and I asked her to tell us more just in case, you know, someone might have an old leather bag lying around begging for a little work. Are these cool or what?

First I asked her to tell us a little about herself and what she does:

I live in the desert in West Texas.  There is a lot of beauty here, but for me it takes creative intention to see it and be connected to it daily.  I have an amazing studio where I work that I call my “library of potential.”  Can’t remember exactly, but my husband & I built the studio in our yard over 15 years ago.

I love to draw and paint.  I’ve made stained glass windows, and I’ve made clothes.  I make baby quilts & bed quilts & curtains.  The work that I have shown the most around the country is my box assemblages.  I have always collected boxes and other objects.  Recuperating from a car accident in 1999, I began attaching objects inside boxes in tiny increments of time.  I have had several solo shows of that body of work, (which is over 150 pieces to date).

I love the light inside my studio, and the way I’ve been able to organize the objects into drawers and bins so I can find what I am looking for.  I love that it is close, so I can walk out there any hour of the day or night.  I love that we made the effort to invest in a place where I can thrive while raising children, enjoying grandchildren, tending the garden, pets, or doing the laundry.

And then I asked her to tell us about the bags. She was really generous and provided pretty much all you need to know to try this at home:
I love the texture of leather.  I bought some purses on sale at the end of the season that were lovely but bigger than what I’d ever carried.  They didn’t seem like me, so one day I just decided to personalize one (or I never would have used it).  That was the bird.

blue bird altered bag by Becki Smith

blue bird altered purse detail--Becki Smith

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I looked on google images and found a bird I liked, then drew it freehand on the purse.  I used fine line sharpie markers because I knew if they got on fabric they wouldn’t wash out.  And I had a multi colored set of both fine & regular tip sizes.  The image even with line size variation didn’t have enough magic, so I used acrylic paint next-which is also permanent when dry.  I wanted the image to be beautiful, but subtle.  I used some metallic acrylics and colors in the magenta-turquoise-purple range.  I loved it!  Other people loved it too, when they noticed.

When I got tired of that purse, one of my daughters wanted it, so I passed it on.  The next one was the orange leather bag that I drew bugs on, also with Sharpie markers. 

orange altered bag by Becki Smith

altered bag detail

altered Dragonfly Purse by Becki Smith

 The moth on the front was done with the regular tip size sharpie marker, and I did not retrace the lines, so it seems softer or faded.  The dragonfly on the back was done with the fine point Sharpies.  I went over the lines once or twice to get a really clear, distinct mark.

green altered bag by Becki Smith

The green suede coin purse was a gift for a friend.  I used fine point Sharpies and also Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens and Zig Millenium pens for the even finer lines on the leaf bug.  All the drawings are freehand.  I try to practice drawing whenever I think of it.
I often make cards or personalize items for myself or as gifts using whatever materials I have on hand.  I LOVE making something wonderful out of almost nothing!!!!!!

Sales of work are very gratifying.  The work that comes from my heart, not made to please someone else or to sell, is the strongest, most powerful work, to me.  I was once told by a teacher in college that if I would focus my creativity into one medium, that my work would have a more powerful impact.  I actually prefer living with creativity infusing all aspects of my life.  I love it when people are drawn to or connect with my work, but I never make work attempting to connect with sales.  I gladly make commissioned pieces.  I enjoy showing my work.  Time and energy considerations at 57 encourage me to focus on what really feeds my soul.


Thanks, Becki!

To see more of Becki’s work, go to her website.

You can see more photos of Becki’s studio at The Voodoo Cafe.


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One Response to Meet Becki Smith

  1. jkberry says:

    Now you are a person I would love to spend the day with! I was fantasizing yesterday about making “marker tights”, but then someone would have to wear them while I drew. Love your bug purse especially. Nice that the universe collided into this meeting of minds.