Art Maker: Peter Smolenski | abstract artist

Last modified: Thursday, April 02, 2015

Peter Smolenski, 52, seems to be interested in making just about any kind of art: He paints, he sculpts, he makes photography (both 2D and 3D), he writes and performs music. He’s even penned a novel. Smolenski, a lifelong Northampton resident, says he remains in town in spite of increased living costs, “because of the large number of creative geniuses who live here, and the wildlife sanctuary that is my backyard.”

Hampshire Life: Describe the work you are doing now. What will the viewer experience?

Peter Smolenski: I mainly paint abstract art that is completely open to the viewer’s interpretation. People see anything and everything in there. I’m working on fun abstract guitar pieces that will be on view this month in the window of Downtown Sounds in Northampton. I’m also experimenting with different kinds of light photography, making strange music with my awesome friends, and am about to release a crazy book of fiction.

H.L.: What is your creative process like?

P.S.: I do the self-imposed third-shift artist thing: I stay up all night. I always have music going, or I’m listening to history/science shows on TV. It’s like I am receiving and translating some kind of weird signal, and all this art happens. Being mostly abstract art, the less I am thinking about it, the better it comes out.

H.L.: Does your work usually start with a “Eureka!” moment?

P.S.: No, it’s more a matter of stubborn discipline and a you-better-get-as-much-of-this-stuff-done-while-you-still-can kind of thing.

H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?

P.S.: If I am feeling good when it’s happening, then something good will come out of it. You can’t overthink this or you will never get anything done.

H.L.: What do you do when you get stuck?

P.S.: I go back and forth between various art forms. I am lucky to have music as a creative outlet as well. So if the paintings are not happening, I still have 2D and 3D photography, digital art, music and a ton of other things to do. If I can’t get anything going, I look for inspiration from nature. I will go take a walk through Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. That always gets things going again: the ever-changing art of nature.

H.L.: How do you know when the work is done?

P.S.: At some point, the paintings will let me know they are done. Sounds weird, but it’s true.

H.L.: What did you do today that relates to your art?

P.S.: I thought about what I need to do for the show in March and talked with my collaborator about when we are going to unleash our novel.

H.L.: What art project do you consider to be your best work?

P.S.: In painting, my 4½-foot-by-36-foot painting, “Tiny The 36 Footer.” As far as everything else goes, collaborating on the book “Felix” with Marcos de Ninguna Parte.

— Kathleen Mellen

To see examples of artwork by Smolenski, visit “Felix,” the novel, is available at


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