Phil Smith – Devon abstract artist

Life is good and has to be lived to the fullest extent possible. The greatest pleasure is seeing my work hanging on other peoples walls. If my art makes you happy, what more can I want?

I am thrilled that my paintings are hanging in homes throughout the UK and in private collections in Germany, Italy, France, Canada, New York, Florida and Texas.

My work is mainly vibrant, colourful and uplifting, but I am also able to produce more subtle monochrome work, in either acrylic paint or ink.

One of my sources of inspiration has been what I have seen under the microscope during my professional life as a marine biologist. My colour palette is often inspired by the sea or by  Mediterranean colours. Recent work draws heavily on our travels in Morocco.

I really admire how Gerhard Richter explained his abstract art “To talk about paintings is not only difficult but perhaps pointless, too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing, what language can communicate. Painting has nothing to do with that. Painting is another form of thinking.”

I paint because I cannot stop myself from trying to get onto canvas the ideas that are flowing through my head. However, that doesn’t mean that I always know what I am going to paint. Often I open a fresh canvas and stare at it for a while. The first step is usually to choose the paints that will be the dominant colours in the painting.

I have been painting since about 2010, and am largely self-taught. Most of my work uses acrylic paints on canvas, usually producing abstracts or semi-abstract landscapes. I am interested in capturing the essence of a place using abstract colours and shapes to convey moods and feelings about landscapes, either real or imagined.

Early abstracts started with paint applied directly to the canvas. Areas of paint were worked with spatulas, paint brushes, rollers or even tile cement spreading tools. I also cut through surface wet layers of paint using silicon-tipped brushes to reveal details in the painting below. Many of these paintings are multi-layered and are worked on until something emerges. I rarely know what I am looking to achieve, it is simply an exploration of colour and form.

Although I enjoyed art at school in the 1960s and 1970s, I could not continue it as it clashed with the science subjects that I was most interested in. I only started painting again in about 1990, when I painted cartoon characters on the bedroom walls for our children. I didn’t take up painting seriously until about 2010, when I realised that art made me very happy. Then came the revelation that other people liked my abstract paintings and were prepared to buy them! Now I have sold dozens of paintings throughout the UK and to the USA, Canada, Germany, France and Italy. I am very content painting in my studio and it is almost a full time occupation now.


The photographs on this website are deliberately compressed to speed up loading and also to hopefully prevent people stealing images. If you would like to see a high quality image or images of a painting just email me at