After completing her studies at the School of the Art Institute the artist worked as an illustrator. As the 1976 Bicentennial approached there was a fever of interest in American History. In 1971 she was asked to illustrate a book on the American Revolutionary War period which required her to travel to historic locations to paint the actual scenes. As her travels crossed and crisscrossed the paths of the patriots, she entered their lives and was forever caught in the inescapable skeins of history and thrust into the role of historical painter. What began as a single assignment has grown over the past 40 years plus into the largest collection of American historical-site paintings ever created by a single artist.
In 1994, she was given a lifetime designation as Artist Laureate of Illinois in recognition of the contribution the American Legacy makes to our heritage and history. She has painted each of the 250 works in the Collection on site of the historic monuments, battefields, landmarks, and national and cultural events. Throuugh these insightful, engaging watercolors, she presents a powerful narrative of American life- from the cheerful Colonial Kitchen at Sturbridge to the quiet sorrow of Vicksburg Battlefield to the proud Relighting of the Statue of Liberty. The artist has kept The American Legacy Collection intact with the purpose of establishing a museum for the paintings either privately or in league with established museum valuing historical art- a permanent home where it can be viewed in its entirety, bringing the scope of the American story boldly to life for generations to come.
"The Running of the Bulls' is part of her Hemingway collection that was inspired and illustrated from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises."....sound of the rocket exploding that announced the release of the bulls from the corrals at the edge of town. They would race through the streets and out to the bullring. All the balconies were crowded with people. Suddenly a crowd came down the street...They were running...and then the bulls galloping, tossing the heads up and down." Other Hemingway classics that Smith has captured in images include Old Man and the Sea, Death in the Afternoon, and For Whom the Bells Toll.