3. Jeffrey Smith
Watercolor is a tricky media. It is brutally unforgiving, and often associated with pretty paintings of flowers and children. Few artists have realized the potential of this medium the way that Jeffrey Smith has. His work comes at you from a place that few can enter, and brings with it light, mystery, beauty, mayhem, and a gritty realism that combines understated body language with bold visual statements. There is always more beneath the surface of Smith's pictures, a darkness, a recognizable element that is often hidden behind the warmest smiles. Not to say that all of his work is dark, but that when he enters the darkness, he brings to light truths about the human condition.
I had the good fortune to meet Smith several years ago and speak with him for a short time. He was honest, straightforward and candid. His pictures are always intelligent, and always evoke from me an emotional response as well as make me think about the subject matter he has tackled.