In 1999, Kay Smith, artist laureate of Illinois, was commissioned by the Ernest Hemingway Museum of Oak Park, Illinois, to paint a series of watercolors commemorating Hemingway’s 100th birthday. The drama and power of Hemingway’s writing are translated into vibrant works of art by this renowned painter. With bold color and brushstrokes, her paintings reflect the author’s love of the sea, of Africa, Spain, Cuba and France. Kay traveled to these places to experience the atmosphere that the author put into his celebrated novels. While in Cuba, she met fisherman Gregorio Fuentes, on whom Hemingway based his character Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. These paintings are her interpretation of Hemingway’s prose that also includes The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Death in the Afternoon.
Kay Smith is a Chicago-based artist who paints historic places and events on site. She has chronicled this country’s story from Jamestown to Desert Storm in more than 250 paintings and sketches that make up her American Legacy Collection.
Kay’s interest in history has always included the people who shaped it, and she considers Ernest Hemingway one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.