Kay Smith (artist)

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Kay Smith
Born Vandalia, Illinois
Education Art
Alma mater School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Known for Paintings and illustrations
Website www.kaysmithartist.com

Kay Smith is a historical artist, who specializes in using watercolors and depicting landscapes.

Early life[edit]

Smith grew up in Vandalia, Illinois and was the fourth of six children.[1]


During World War II, she moved to Chicago and attended classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[1] She worked as a commercial illustrator until the 1970s, when she turned to historical subjects.[2] She visited historical sites to depict them accurately and raise awareness about these sites importance to the national heritage.[3]

For 21 years, Smith taught a watercolor class at the Old Town Triangle Art Center in Old Town, Chicago.[1]

She has produced four books on her artwork and more than 250 paintings.[4] She illustrated over 30 books for Thomas Jones, an editor at J.G. Ferguson Publishing Co.[5]

Later life[edit]

At the age of 73, she was struck by Guillain–Barré syndrome which left her almost paralyzed. After rehabilitation, her daughter encouraged her to keep painting. She is still taking commissions after turning 90 years of age.[1][6]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1994, she was named the Artist Laureate of Illinois by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.[7][8]

Major works[edit]

Red Tails escorting the B17s in the permanent collection of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Her major works include a series of Abraham Lincoln-related sites, Red Tails escorting the B17s on display at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library,[4] and paintings depicting famous Illinois sites on display at the Illinois Governors' Mansion.[2]

She was commissioned by The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park to do paintings depicting the Ernest Hemingway books The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Old Man and the Sea.[9] Some of her Hemingway paintings were exhibited as part of the Hemingway Centennial Celebration in Oak Park in 1999.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d "At 90, artist Kay Smith follows her straight road". Chicago Tribune. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  2. ^ a b "Art of the state". Chicago Tribune. 2005-04-17. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  3. ^ Edgell, page 64.
  4. ^ a b The Cook-Witter Report, Volume 27, Number 2, October 2012, pages 1–3
  5. ^ "Awash In Americana". Chicago Tribune. 1994-07-21. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  6. ^ "Artist Discovers That A Still Life Can Be Moving". Chicago Tribune. 1997-05-18. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  7. ^ "Chicago Artist Kay Smith brings a local Chicago connection to Disney's movie "Secretariat, by Kay Smith Arts". 1888pressrelease.com. 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  8. ^ "Kay Smith - Biography, vital info and auction records for Kay Smith". Askart.com. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Meet artist laureate Kay Smith". Petoskey News. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  10. ^ Joravsky, Ben (1999-07-15). "Hemingway Centennial Celebration". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  11. ^ "Painting Like Hemingway Wrote," Hemingway Despatch, Winter 2009, page 8.


  • Edgell, David L. (2006). Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future. Psychology Press. ISBN 0-7890-2771-2. 
  • Jones, Thomas C. (1981). So proudly we hail – keystones of American freedom: 375 years of remarkable events prepare the people of America to face the challenge of the '80s. Hall of Fame Press. LCCN 81083601. 
  • Monroe, Dan, Lura Lynn Ryan, and Kay Lovelace Smith. At Home with Illinois Governors: A Social History of the Illinois Executive Mansion, 1855–2003. [Springfield, IL]: Illinois Executive Mansion Association, 2002. ISBN 0-9725610-0-5 OCLC 51813131
  • Whitney, David C., Kay Lovelace Smith, and Thomas C. Jones. The American Legacy: A Pageant of Great Deeds and Famous Words. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson, 1975. OCLC 2205978
  • Whitney, David C. and Kay Lovelace Smith. The Colonial Spirit of '76: The People of the Revolution: The Lives of Members of the Continental Congresses and Other Prominent Men and Women of the Period. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson Pub. Co., 1974. OCLC 1229396

External links[edit]