No painting or print or photo may be reproduced, copied or snipped without express written permission.
These photos of French Creek were probably taken by Morris Brooks around the 1920s to 1930s The store you see in the center of the photo at the right is the Louden Store, that Dad later purchased in 1938. Imagine these two photos when you look at the two paintings of French Creek in the early 1900s.
French Creek in the 1950s. The sign on the store reads Smith's General Grocery. To the immediate left was Tomblyn Funeral Home, the post office and Casto's Feed Store. This photo was taken by Howard Hiner and shared by Daniel Green.
Smith's General Grocery. That's dad painting and mom supervising. I spent a lot of my youth in that store.
Scruffy & Pals is a series golf related characters by Dan Smith.
At age 72 in his WWII uniform.
Sketching on the North Fork, Grant County WV
Robert G. (Bob) Smith, Jr (1909-1996)
Romans 12:6 - We have different gifts, according to the grace [God has] given to each of us.
God gave my Dad the gift of creativity and he embraced it and enjoyed using it, especially with pencil and brush. He often said he could not stand to see a blank canvas or blank page in his sketch pad. A self-taught artist, he became interested in art as a teenager and soon became widely known for his paintings. As a young man, Dad was friends with Charley Harper, a famous illustrator who was born in Frenchton, WV, not far from Rock Cave where Dad was born and raised. He and Charley would often go on sketching trips around the area, seeking a new subject to put on canvas. He told me, “It was always fascinating to me how we both would be sketching the same subject, but see it in an entirely different way.”
In 1937 Dad acquired a store in French Creek from Basil Loudin and started a new chapter in his life. During that year he was ‘courting’ Marjorie A. Mearns, also of Rock Cave, and wrote in his journal…”Marge and I enjoy going a lot of places together and get along well ...I have selected her to be the mother of my children.” They were married June 10th, 1938 and operated Smith’s General Grocery for over twenty eight years. In 1944, he was called to serve his country during WWII in the European Theater in the Army Quarter Master Corps. During that time, Mom managed the store, along with help from her sister Anna Lee. My brother Steve was born in January of 1944 and in celebration of Dad’s discharge in November, I was conceived! We lived in a two story cream colored house with a red roof about three hundred yards behind the store on Slab Camp road. Dad named our home “Shade Well”. (Note: Sadly Mom died in April 1979, Dad in April 1996 and Steve in July 2004.)
During an interview at the office of The Hillbilly Newspaper in Richwood, WV (one of the many art shows where his art was exhibited) Dad told a reporter, "One of my aspirations for my paintings is to preserve some of the things that are passing, that are destroyed by man, nature and time." He particularly loved sketching and painting old log cabins, log barns, grist mills, and unusual old houses. When the reporter continued to inquire why he enjoyed painting, Dad said, "When I am sitting in my studio painting, I feel as though I am not “in” the studio at all, rather I am there...I am right there whether painting a barn or an old house…...in my mind I am transported to the imagined scene where I can hear the wind, smell the animals, listen to thunder in the distance. I can touch and feel the texture of the logs or the siding on the structures. That adds fuel to my passion and I just sit there building the scene on canvas. I lose myself in the imagined atmosphere, it is quite relaxing".
Most of his paintings came from seeing a subject and stopping along the road, getting out his easel, stool and sketch pad and then sitting down to sketch it. After returning home he would set his sketch book beside the studio easel and make a rough pencil sketch on the canvas and build from there. Some of his paintings came from old black and white photographs, such as the early 1900’s paintings of French Creek. Using his imagination and skills, he added color and little special effects to make the painting come to life, such as the “three crows” in the French Creek 1900’s west painting, which is the inspiration for the name of our new company.
In addition to art, Dad had many interests and took pleasure in having several projects going at the same time. In the back of the store, he restored antique furniture, clocks and one lung engines and Mom had a type set printing press which she used to print memorial pamphlets for the Tomblyn Funeral Home. At the Smith farm on Mulberry Ridge, he restored a 1923 Model-T Ford, while helping his dad take care of the farm. In the evenings and on Sundays he would sit at home in his studio where he drew and painted an untold number of pictures. He preferred oil, but also created many watercolor paintings and some ink and charcoal etchings, as well.
This site is designed to honor dad’s artistic talents by offering prints of his original art. The paintings you will see on this website are in my home. Prints will been made from the original paintings and are shown here for your viewing. I hope when you visit the gallery, you will see a painting that touches your heart and decide to purchase and enjoy it in your home or business. This is the first time that any of these prints have been offered for purchase.
Thank you for visiting!
Dan Smith (Danny to my family and childhood friends)