Laura Smith was born in 1980 and studied first at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1999 to 2003, and then, in 2003 and 2004, at the Prince’s Drawing School, where she won the Richard Ford Award to live and paint in Madrid. While at art school she worked mainly in the life-room. I’m pleased to say that the results show: there is a security of form to her painting of figures that provides a firm base for the natural sensuality of her textures and colours, the latter having an almost Fauve-like freedom which makes me wonder if any other girls with green skin ever looked quite so disarmingly lovely as some of her models. One of her models, I can proudly reveal, was myself. I was the subject of her “Portrait of Man Writing” just as she was the subject of my poem with the same title, which can be found in the section of this site devoted to my recent verse. Perhaps it was the doomed task of trying to make me sit still that pushed her towards a new development, by which she is now, and I quote, “moving away from the figure and exploring new subjects which include landscape.” Just in case she never comes back from that clump of trees on the horizon, let me say that I find it truly encouraging that a painter so young should be so determined to study the human form with such analytical intensity, and enshrine the results with such lyrical grace. There is an unashamed joy to the people in her pictures, as if they had found the secret of relaxation. But she works very hard to put them at their ease, and without her scrupulous draughtsmanship none of these casual visual melodies would have been possible.