In 2012, Tom Smith began oil painting after many years of dreaming to be an artist.

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Three years later he began painting “En Plein Air”, which is painting outdoors, “on site”. He has since participated in many plein air events in Wisconsin, won awards, and was instrumental in planning the League of Milwaukee Artists first “West Bend Plein Air and Paint the Market” competition which was held in August of 2018.

Tom Smith has also been a professional cellist in the Milwaukee area for over 35 years playing with, among others, The Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, and Festival City Symphony.


He is a member of many art organizations, including:

The League of Milwaukee Artists

The Wauwatosa Artists Workshop

Fine Art Montage

The Rogues Artist Group

WIPAPA (Wisconsin Plein Air Painters Association)

The American Impressionist Society


He has exhibited his oil paintings in many local venues and had several solo shows including at the Wauwatosa Public Library and Art and Soul Gallery.

Past Gallery Representation:

Art and Soul Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

Bloom, Milwaukee, WI

Samara Gallery, Milwaukee, WI


Awards have included:

2015 WAW  Fall Show Honorable Mention

2017 LMA Winter Show Honorable Mention

2017 WAW Winter Show Award of Merit

2017 Cedarburg Plein Air Competition 2nd Place Award

2017 LMA Fall Show Honorable Mention

2017 Plymouth, WI "Paint the Towns Plein Air" Honorable Mention

2018 Arbor Place (Menomonie, WI) Plein Air Competition 2nd Place Award

2018 Jerry Goldstein Foundation Artist Merit and Achievement Award

2018 New Berlin (WI) Plein Air Honorable Mention

Fusion.art 2nd Season Quarterly Art Exhibition 4th Place Award

Bauhaus Prairie Art Gallery Flora & Fauna 2019 online show Honorable Mention



Juried Exhibitions, Shows, Plein Air Competitions: 

“GALEX 52 National Exhibition and Competition", Galesburg. Ill 2018

"The Modern Landscape" at Redline Gallery, Milwaukee, 2018

Taliesin Plein Air 2018 (Invitational)

“Water Works” 24th Annual Juried Exhibition, Plymouth (WI) Arts Center


Artist’s Statement

In my childhood, there were dreams. I would paint. I would make beauty. Always present though: a shadow. Even my name was hateful to me.

Then, childhood passed. There would be no beauty. There would be other things, though. Wonderful things: love, children, a career. Yet hiding, in that shadow would be the art, the beauty.

There was a crash. I was unmoving. I was lost in the darkness. Until slowly, emergent, it came finally: the art.

You see, I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. The shadow: blocking out the beauty. Then the finding: Asperger’s. Mild but present-and the knowing brought light.

It was after I was unable to continue my career that I began to paint. Therapy, one could say. I say: a renewal of my childhood dreams. And so I began to know that I love standing on the Earth and knowing that I am a part of its wonder. Yet I also know that time is fleeting.

One of my favorite quotes is by writer James Agee: “…and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.”

Life was for a time, for me, full of sorrow. A sorrow I wanted to end. Painting brought me out of this darkness. When I was in the hospital, the one book I brought along was about oil painting. So when I came home, I began to paint.

I hadn't painted much since I was a young, but now I began to see it as a way to a new life. I wanted to be an artist, and so I painted.

I found other artists, I joined art groups. I painted.

Being a painter has brought me into the light in so many ways. Sometimes being in it can be hard for me. I still struggle, I don’t know how or what to say. But painting has saved my life. I can look and say: here, that’s me. My name is Tom Smith, and I am an artist.