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... From Kim Smith, ...

William A. Smith's daughter Kim watched her father work and was inspired to follow in his footsteps. She learned --- [click here]

Sketch of William A. Smith
27 years old in 1945

The following biography on William A. Smith was written by David Leopold ( for an exhibition presented at the The Studio of Ben Solowey in 1996. Reprinted with permission of the author.

WILLIAM A. SMITH (1918-1989)

Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1918, Bill Smith first studied under the painter Theodore Keane. At the age of 13, he began to exhibit his work in serious competitions. The following year he was employed as a sketch artist by the Scripps-Howard Newspapers to cover the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, and later he worked for the San Francisco Examiner sketching murder trials. The same year, Smith was accepted as the youngest member of the National Academy of Design. At the age of 19, he moved to Manhattan where he quickly found success as a freelance illustrator for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping and McCall's. He also continued his easel work which attracted the notice of collectors and art directors alike.

To learn further about Chinese art, history and language, during World War II, Smith "consented to be recruited" for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and was sent to China for the duration of the war. There he traveled clandestinely throughout the country and drew a wide variety of subjects along the way. He also made lasting friendships with the country's greatest artists. He traveled through Asia and Africa on his return from the war, laying the groundwork for his globe trotting travels the rest of his life. Among other journeys, Smith lectured at the Academy of Fine Arts in Athens in 1954; Manila, 1955; Warsaw, 1958. He was one of the first artists sent to Russia under the Cultural Exchange Agreement in 1958.

Introduced to Bucks County by his friends George Nakashima and Pearl Buck (for whom he illustrated five children's book), Smith moved to Pineville, PA in 1956. He converted a three story barn into his home and maintained his studio there. Over the years, Smith was close friends with a variety of artists, but he shared a special relationship with the poet Carl Sandburg, who often visited the Smith home. Smith's striking portrait of Sandburg is now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery and another Smith portrait of the poet was immortalized on a United States Postage stamp. Smith created ten award-winning stamps including a portrait of Sidney Lanier and a four stamp series on the Boston Tea Party.

In 1968, Smith executed a nine panel historical mural for the State of Maryland. The same year he began a five year stint as vice president on the board of directors of Pearl S. Buck's Welcome House. Smith was a leader of a wide range of artist associations including President of the American Watercolor Society and President of the American delegation to the International Association of Art. His work won a variety of awards including the Winslow Homer Memorial Prize, the Postal Commemorative Society Prize and the American Watercolor Society's Gold, Silver, Bronze and Stuart prizes. Smith's work is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, Toledo Museum of Art, and the James Michener Art Museum.

[reprinted 11/13/01]

... click on the pictures (below) ...

... from the Magazine:
"Asia and the Americas"
July, 1946 ...

--- the drawing of Dad in uniform (see above) is by Gil Bundy, who was a very well-known and respected illustrator. He and Dad were very good friends and went to Korea together to entertain the troops. Kim.

... and scroll down to January 12, 2009.

Early life
Smith was born in Toledo, Ohio. He studied at the Theodore Keane School of Art in Toledo from 1932 to 1936 and at the University of Toledo from 1936 to 1937, receiving an honorary master of arts degree in 1954. He married Mary France Nixon in 1939, with whom he had one son, Richard Keane. Smith's second marriage in 1949 to Ferol Yvonne Stratton produced two girls, Kim and Kathlin Alexandra.

On August 17 the Duck Team proceeded by air to Weihsien, China and after reconnaissance from, their plane located the Civilian Assembly Camp and jumped to begin their mission.
2. They were greeted by the civilian internees who rushed out past the Japanese guards to welcome the parachuting men. Major Staiger immediately made contact with the governing authorities in the camp - the Committee of Nine administrating the ...

Small Long-coupled horses used to pull two-wheel carts, the Yunnan equivalent to our bus lines.

SIAO HEI'ZE's hair was so thin and fuzzy that he almost didn't look Chinese.
He looked almost blonde. ...

Small Long-coupled horses used to pull two-wheel carts, the Yunnan equivalent to our bus lines. ...

In picture 007, the nun at left is probably Sister Hiltrudis of St. Joseph School in Tsingtao. The next person, a man with a mustache is certainly Jimmy Baskett of Tsingtao. The next man, in shorts, could very well be Mr. Cockburn, who was our Scout Master, with Father Hanquet and Father Palmers as assistant Scout Masters. If I could get the entire image of the other photos enlarged it is possible I might recognize some more people. I tried, but i could only get a small portion of each picture in the enlarged size.

"Kept in solitary confinement for the duration of the war, suffering from beri-beri and having been horribly beaten by brutal Japanese guards, Barr presented a terrible picture of the atrociousness of war. Greenishly pale, staring vacantly at the broken knuckles of his hands, he was unable to recognize or talk to any one. I was so overwhelmed by the sight that I couldn’t draw, but it was so vivid that I could sketch it today from memory."

... planes, planes and more planes ...

... the Japanese Army ...

... and those of the Chinese Army ... (notice the poor quality of the shoes) !

Stanley Staiger, Arthur Hummel, and many others ...

The exhibition, free to the public, includes a few of Smith's propaganda illustrations which were created to demoralize Japanese soldiers, but most of the show is devoted to the beautiful, sympathetic drawings and paintings of the people and places he encountered during his tour of duty.

William A. Smith: "A fine painter"

and scroll down to August 10 --

Inside Weihsien Prison Camp

Life in Weihsien
... with the colour painting of the Jap guard in the tower ...

Their enthusiasm made me very humble

Getting Out of Weihsien

...a terrible picture of the atrociousness of war