RCS & PBF: Abstract Serendipity

Through what could only be described as pure serendipity, the Peter Bullough Foundation (PBF) met its first resident artist Rachel Crockett Smith, whose vibrant abstract creations affirmed our mission to provide a space for artists to grow and whose advice further assisted in structuring the growth of the program.


On April 22, while deep in the renovation process of our studios and resident space, I, Jeffrey Albright, archive manager of the PBF, received an excited phone call from a local artist who had just learned of our existence. Responding to a recent article in the Winchester Star, Rachel came with a question and hope, “would the Foundation be open to a local artist working in the studio?” She wanted to challenge herself with larger scale paintings, something that the spacious studio at the PBF would allow. Suddenly this years-long dream of Dr. Bullough’s, hosting resident artists, had become much more real and exciting. Foundation staff explained that Rachel’s residency would need to be approved by the board and that the studios were not completely outfitted so the space might be a bit of a work zone.


Two months later, on a bright sunny Monday, Rachel appeared with her self-described “Super Mom Van” packed full of several large canvases, measuring a minimum of 4 feet or greater in size. Upon her arrival, easels had not yet been purchased for the space so the large pieces leaned against the wall in anticipation of a dazzling future.


Rachel’s abstract work combines colors and forms that burst onto the canvas and uplift the soul. Drawing inspiration from her “life as a mother and the day-to-day moments, obstacles, and chaos,” she looks for the meaning in moments and uses that to inform her creative process. While “titles are an integral part of the works” they are meant to “suggest a meaning which the viewer may wish to explore.” In that regard, the viewer is allowed to “acquaint themselves with the work through the lens of their own experience.”


Previously working primarily with oil paints on wood panels, Rachel experimented with acrylic while in the PBF studio. Using brushes, paint knives, squeegees, and other various found tools to develop layered patterns of saturated hues, Rachel quickly amassed a beautiful array of captivating work that filled two studios. We, the PBF staff, took great delight in checking in on the status of the paintings every few days to see what changes Rachel would make.


On August 10, the PBF hosted what we hope will be the first of many open studio events celebrating the work of resident artists to a crowd of enthusiastic art lovers. Rachel, having filled both studios with her work, spent the night sharing her talent and words with the visiting public. As the night wound down, we were both joyous for such a fantastic night and a little sad as we said goodbye to our first resident artist.


During her time here, Rachel not only inspired but also helped to inform decisions on tools and materials needed to outfit the studios. Future Artists: you have Rachel to thank for the suggested easels and extra lighting among several other improvements.


As our family of alumni artists continues to grow, we hope that you will follow their adventures and take some time to explore their works and websites. More information about Rachel Crockett Smith can be found through her website and via her spectacularly fun to follow Instagram.