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Lower Merion artist shares creative re-birth with “90 Studies in 90 Days” at New Leaf Club

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN 
bbingaman@thereporteronline.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Noticed the “90 Studies in 90 Days” art show at Bryn Mawr’s New Leaf Club?
Philadelphia College of Arts and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts-trained artist Peter Brian Smith said that after working commercially as a muralist and faux finisher for more than two decades, and a period of being artistically inactive, he made a retirement realization — “OK, I can do what I want to do.”

A portrait of B.B. King by Peter Brian Smith. Photo courtesy of Peter Brian Smith

A portrait of B.B. King by Peter Brian Smith.
Photo courtesy of Peter Brian Smith

The goal the Merion Station resident set for himself was 90 drawings in 90 days, not dwell on a style but to have an artistic study completed in a day. This evolved from graphite on paper to canvas board painting, his own versions of da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and a Picasso self portrait, to portraits of family members, and then “interesting people,” such as Laurie Anderson, Amy Winehouse, Mother Teresa, Frank Zappa, B.B. King, William Shakespeare, Buster Keaton, Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac. Smith rediscovered that he most enjoyed painting people as far back as his days at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, when he created paintings of posing models.

Peter Brian Smith’s portrait of his cousin Tiziana Quattrucci. Photo courtesy of Peter Brian Smith

Peter Brian Smith’s portrait of his cousin Tiziana Quattrucci.
Photo courtesy of Peter Brian Smith

Smith, who will celebrate his 65th birthday during the exhibition’s run through Aug. 31, discovered that the fumes from oil paint “get to me,” so he switched to acrylic and watercolor (there’s also some gouache in “90 Studies in 90 Days”).
“This collection of informal studies represents a broad spectrum of people — men, women, saints and sinners from all walks of life,” Smith said. “I like spontaneity in the work.”
He had at least one close call of not completing the ambitious 90-in-90 goal. A black-and-white rendering of Snoop Dogg came about when Smith discovered he had forgotten to do one that day. “It’s almost a bucket list thing,” he said.
Smith said the next theme he would explore was people in relation to space.
New Leaf Club is at 1225 Montrose Ave., Bryn Mawr.

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