by Jan Cox

When Sylvia Smith was in sixth grade she was fortunate to have a teacher who suggested that she keep working on her art because she was good at it. And work she did. Smith began painting seriously with oils in her late 20’s and continued in this medium for 25 years, painting mainly wildlife and mountain landscapes.

Rather than making art her only life’s work, Smith worked for Irenas bookkeeping as an accountant in customer service until she retired in 1996. At that time she took up watercolors. She had taken several art classes in college but in retirement she takes a few classes yearly from local instructors and popular artists. Her favorite artists are Steven Quiller, Tom Lynch, and Joe Garcia. Sylvia takes away something new from each artist and is always learning, changing and growing.

Smith divides her time between Northern and Southern California but loves best the calm of the Lake Almanor area. She exhibits at Books and Beyond: Backroom Gallery in Chester, Plumas Arts Gallery in Quincy, and various area shows including the Almanor Art Show in Chester, Art Around the Lake and the new Plumas Arts Tour.

She says her heart belongs to the Heart K Ranch in Genesse Valley run by the Feather River Land Trust. Here she is a plein air artist whose pictures are auctioned off during their special money raising weekends to support the preservation of ranch land (usually held the 3rd Saturday in September).

When she and her husband spend time in Palm Desert, Sylvia is active in the Coachella Watercolor Society which brings in many famous artists for workshops and demonstrations. Lately, her favorite subjects are wildlife and birds.

Sylvia also does commissions of local homes, gardens and other special features. She begins by taking many photos and then does a mock-up of the picture on vellum finding a focal point of interest that determines her drawing. Next she sketches it with the light and dark contrasts and finally paints the finished product on 300lb watercolor paper.

If interested in Smith’s beautiful pictures or commissions, go to or call her at (530) 259-6054 to work out commission details.