Painter P. Smallwood is known for his signature watercolor paintings Lifescapes, a powerful form of portraiture and visual narrative. In these works, Smallwood portrays the subject within his or her natural environment, carefully manipulated to evoke an emotional connection with the viewer. Through composition, line, form, and finely finished surfaces, P. Smallwood creates compelling portraits that convey a feeling about how the subjects live their lives.
Smallwood has an artists’ agenda. The ability to engage the viewer to pause, take note, and connect with the subject’s emotional experience of life is powerful and deliberate. The focus of his work is for viewers to experience the common thread of emotions, aspirations, and desires of the people he paints from rural America to the streets of the urban inner city. They are faces many viewers typically do not bother to notice, or skim over as unimportant. Smallwood’s Lifescapes put them center stage. He holds them up and honors them.
As a primarily self-taught artist, the process by which he creates Lifescapes is intuitive and exploratory. Artworks are born from his own intrinsic observations rather than from any particular artistic school. His artistic vision is unique, specific and intentional. His work is highly drafted and finely finished.
Smallwood is striving for the seamless surface of a constructed realism. His subjects are tightly drafted with keen attention to perspective, form and how the light spectrum falls on the subject to tell the visual story. These elements are most apparent in his subject’s skin tone, which has a smooth finish that reflects his fascination with both figure drawing and watercolor painting.
As a part of his continually developing repertoire, Smallwood is currently at work on still life paintings and large-scale landscapes. As a representational painter, the artist feels it is important to be able to navigate the full spectrum of images, affectionately referred to as “the places and the things.”
— Dr. Louis A. Zona, Executive Director/Chief Curator, The Butler Institute of American Art