How Artist and Gallery Owner Christie Smith Pivoted After COVID-19 Lockdown

When I start a piece, the resin magically chooses its direction and I have to…allow the process to lead, just as the game unfolded,” says artist Christie Smith, owner of Unleashed Art Gallery.“Each painting results in a unique one-of-a-kind expression.”

After a successful twenty-three-year career as an LPGA golf professional, Smith pursued abstract expressionism and photography, which eventually led her to her own art gallery. Over the past decade, she has remained committed to the daily process of art and its technical improvements.

While she has experimented with different mediums and techniques on canvas, acrylic, and wood panels, the resin has become her favorite medium, due to the nature of creation. The mesmerizing process involves a two-part compound that hardens into a glossy finish. Once she pours the colors, she rapidly works to blend and coordinate the movement of the colors. Smith says of her daily inspiration, “Its characteristics and fluidity pose a dynamic which challenges me to perform with an edge of pressure. This taps into my competitive past as an LPGA golf professional. I prepare mentally for each individual piece of artwork, as I did prior to every competitive game.”

The COVID-19 Pivot

Like many artists and galleries, the COVID-19 lockdown provided time for innovative opportunities. But, for many, it was sink or swim. For Smith, she turned to her dedicated online following and focused on virtual viewings. “I feel the need to create for the sole purpose of connection. I want to use my artistic talents to give back to others who are in need,” says the artist of her deep relationship with her clientele. 

That giving back has translated to a donation of $1,000 to a nonprofit organization in Half Moon Bay, as well as fifteen pieces of artwork to an emergency room staff. Five of her large-scale custom pieces also hang at Navio, the restaurant within the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. 

Her latest creation is a series of revolving back-lit illumination pieces designed solely for wineries and their tasting rooms. Upon her move to Laguna Beach this summer, these will be original pieces designed for commercial use and to inspire the public. Her gallery is now located at 570 S Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, California. 

“Every piece I create teaches me about the opportunities to enhance my technique,” says Smith. “My focus on every detail of each painting continues to drive me to strive for the optimal results that I can achieve by a fearless mindset, and that every creation leads to a path of unlimited potential.”

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