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The Landscapes of Nova Scotia

Colours and textures guide master pastel artist Rae Smith in capturing the landscapes of Nova Scotia on the canvas. He is the Featured Artist for June 2015 at the Art Zone Gallery because of his tremendous work in the medium, showcases just a glimpse of the raw talent of Nova Scotia’s range of artists.

At 77-years-old, Rae has spent a lifetime working in the arts. It all began when he was a child. Having fallen ill, his mother bought him a water-colour set to pass the time. When he turned 12, he attended Saturday art classes at the College of Art in Halifax, and in his thirties joined the Atlantic Area Artist Association where he served as president for seven years. This started a life-long love with fine art that continues to this very day, over 60 years later.

Until only a few years ago, Rae’s love for art had remained just a hobby. He owned an excavation company before turning into a serious artist through online courses, his own determination and his mentor David Wintzman. He turned professional only 15 years ago, proving that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, having won first place at the Atlantic Winter Fair and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.


Rae’s fascination with pastels is as simple as the medium itself: “Quick, amazing, bright colours.” That’s not to say Rae isn’t interested in other mediums.

One landscape in particular that is of great interest to Rae is the picturesque Mahone Bay. Working from his summer home in Chester, just a short distance away, Rae takes inspiration from the over 300 islands, coves and buildings in Mahone Bay, working with pastels to capture their majesty and simplicity. “You can spend a whole summer sailing at Mahone Bay and not see everything there is to see; sailboats, fishing villages, rock fjords and majestic views of the water.”

Some of Rae’s most treasured pieces includes Tanner’s Pass, a fishing village and rock fjord a mile deep, and Tancook Island. He often paints scenes happening on Tancook because of how deeply personal his connections with the island are. These paintings, along with a selected collection of Rae’s other works, are currently being exhibited at the Art Zone Gallery.


Admiring the pastel masters of old, Rae doesn’t give any of his pieces names. He doesn’t simply create what someone tells him to. Instead, he makes his own path and chooses to paint whatever comes to his attention.

If there’s one piece of advice Rae passes on to young artists, it’s simple and effective: “Work hard and steady, and don’t let anyone discourage you.”

You can learn more about Rae by following us on Twitter at @ArtZoneGallery and on Facebook at Rae’s artwork is available to purchase right here on our website.