Artist Spotlight

Deb Wolf and Tad Smith Shed Light on Their Creative Processes

Tad Smith

What inspires your art, and what experience do you want viewers to have?

I have always been fascinated by the duality of a person. Simply put, “duality” is the nature in which anything and everything holds opposing truths, all of which are true. I want my art to inspire viewers to reflect on their own duality.

My work addresses issues of identity, belonging, and self-exploration. I primarily work in black and white, adding a pop of red on the backside of my frames. The black and white represent harmony and conflict, and the red signifies the hidden self.

My creative process begins with sketching numerous portraits or figures and then doing a canvas study of the sketch. Once I’m satisfied with the study, I will build a wooden frame and paint it red. Then, I stretch the raw canvas. The next step is brushing and dripping white acrylic paint on the canvas, creating a textured base for my paintings. 

What is in the works next?

I am currently enhancing my artwork with Augmented Reality. I use software to convert my 2D paintings into 3D images to engage the viewer. This dream project is in the works, slated for June 2024, and will create an environment where visitors can experience more than a painting on the wall. 

You can find Tad's work and wearable art online at www.Tadsmith. art  and  

Deb Wolf

What has your artistic journey been like?

My journey as a painter began in college, where I studied fine arts at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. I later studied art therapy at UNM and then graphic design in Portland. I spent several years as the creative director at Business Valuation Resources until I decided to stay home as a full-time mom for my two sons, who have special needs. I continued to freelance in digital photo restoration and graphic design.  

In the early 2000s, I was called back to my first love, painting. After spending so much time away, I had to brush up on my skills, but I quickly got into my groove and started doing shows again by 2010. Soon after returning to the art scene, I taught myself how to build custom frames from repurposed wood pallets.

After returning to Durango two years ago, I decided to open my brick-and-mortar shop and officially opened my doors in May.

How would you describe your artwork?

I have always wanted to create artwork and custom frames that are accessible and affordable. Anyone should be able to find a piece of art they love and display it in their home with pride. My work is reasonably priced and framed using sustainable materials.

With my custom framing, I gravitate towards the rustic look of distressed wood, but I also build very contemporary pieces and everything in between. 

My paintings are done in acrylic or oil, and they are inspired by images and textures that spark my interest. I like to take my inspiration and let my imagination run freely. I’m particularly drawn to dramatic light and anything that allows me to play with contrast. 

I love how nature creates its colors and drama, from landscapes to seascapes. I take this and let my vision create something new and exciting. You see a lot of aspen and birch trees in my work. They’re gorgeous trees, and I love to paint them.

You can see Deb’s artwork and custom frames at her studio at HWY 3 Plaza and online at


I always wanted to create artwork and custom frames that are accessible and affordable.

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