A Glimpse at Elizabeth Smily by Peggy Storz There are portrait painters, landscape painters, still life painters, animal life painters, and then there's Elizabeth Smily, who excels in all of these styles and more. Her portraits have gained her international respect in the art world. Well-known subjects include Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Dr. James B. Rhoads, retired archivist of the United States. This portrait hangs in the National Archives in Washington DC. Her work has also been exhibited in the Royal Academy, the Royal Portrait Society, the Royal Water Colour Society, and the Whitechapel Gallery. A resident of West Vancouver since 1970, Smily was born Elizabeth Wolf in Yorkshire England. As a child she disliked school probably because of eye problems which were not detected until she was eight. But as the unfolding of her life revealed, Smily was more of an artist than an academic. A self portrait done at the age of ten indicates her great natural ability, even at that young age. Smily began her formal training at Heatherley's Art School in London. From there, she was accepted at the Royal Academy School, but her studies were interrupted by the war. During the war, Smily worked on farms, drove ambulances, and eventually, spent four years in the army. Afterwards, she returned to the Royal Academy and graduated in 1949, the best student of the year. For this honour she received the Lord Leverhulme Award, which financed the opening of her own studio in Chelsea. Life changed for Smily when she married a Canadian journalist and emigrated to Canada in 1952. For a short while she worked with Arthur Lismer, one of the Group of Seven. But, due to her husband's work, they moved around a lot, living in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Brampton before moving out to British Columbia. During this time she raised three daughters and, although it was often very challenging, she continued to paint. Smily remained an active painter through her 80s. Always striving for improvement, Smily notes that "good draftsmanship and a mastery of technique are essential to success in the art field. With this background a student is equipped to enter any area of the visual arts field whether it be commercial or fine, abstract or representational." She encourages students of art to take plenty of life drawing classes and to study anatomy so as to understand the bones and the muscles beneath the skin. Horses are one of Smily's favourite subjects to paint. Through years of riding, working with horses and study of animal anatomy, she has developed an uncanny talent for depicting the true likeness of individual horses. As mentioned earlier, Smily is best known for her portraits. She prefers working from life rather than a  photograph. Although this technique may be more stressful, it is, in Smily's mind, the only way to achieve first rate results. She chats with her models to keep them looking alive. "Some people just die the minute they sit for you" Smily says. "The author of this article is one of those difficult subjects. She is also one of those people whose animation is an important part of her beauty." Retired now from painting, Smily recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Federation of Canadian Artists. A fitting acknowledgement for a lifetime of excellence in all areas of drawing and painting. Made with Xara Web Designer Contents © Elizabeth Smily 2010  Web Design by Susan Smily The Galleries Main Hallway About the Artist Press Clippings   Early Sketchbooks (1930s) Character Studies   Circus Drawings Large Animal Studies  Figure Studies - Female  Figure Studies - Male  The Chelsea Gallery -      (1946-1951) Before and After WWII  Portraits Charcoal & Mixed Media Pastel Watercolour Children  Oil  - Female Nudes Oil- Male Family  Self-Portraits Subject and Painting Demonstrations Other Portraits Chemainus Wall Mural Compositions Animals Dogs & Cats Horses Other Animals Birds Other Works Landscapes  Still Life  Sculpture