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Smith, Jos. A. 1936–

Smith, Jos. A. 1936–

(Joseph Arthur Smith)


Born September 5, 1936, in Bellefonte, PA; son of George Leonard (a barber) and Frieda Regina (a beautician) Smith; married Nancy Clare Hutchison (a social worker/family counselor), August 11, 1959 (divorced); married Charlotte Mutsua Honda (a dancer), July, 1972 (divorced); married Charissa Irene Baker (a massage therapist and artist), February 21, 1994; children: (first marriage) Kathryn (Kari) Anne, Joseph A., Emily Christian. Education: Attended Pennsylvania State University, 1955-60; attended New York University, New School for Social Research (now New School University), Roscoe Center, and Wainwright Center for Human Resources; Pratt Institute, B.F.A.; graduate study at Pennsylvania State University, 1960-61, and Pratt Institute, 1961-62. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Buddhist.


Home—Easton, PA. Office—Pratt Institute, School of Art and Design, 200 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205.


Fine artist, illustrator, and educator. Pratt Institute School of Art and Design, Brooklyn, NY, member of graduate and undergraduate Fine Arts faculty, beginning 1962. Art instructor at Staten Island Museum, 1964, Wagner College, 1965-66, Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, 1969-71, Wainwright Center for Human Resources, 1975, Stockton State College Artist's and Teacher's Institute, 1987-92; Visiting professor of fine arts at Richmond College, London, 1984; visiting artist at Art Institute of Chicago, Oxbow, MI, 1990, and Mis- sissippi Art Colony, 1992, 1993. Freelance editorial illustrator and political cartoonist, then children's book illustrator. Exhibitions: Work included in over twenty solo exhibitions, including at Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA, 1961; Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1962; Janet Nessler Gallery, New York, NY, 1963; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, 1964; Staten Island Museum, Staten Island, NY, 1966; Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg, PA, 1968; Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, 1971; Chambers Gallery, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1972; Bethel Gallery, Bethel, CT, 1978; Newhouse Gallery, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, 1982; Visual Arts Gallery, Adirondack Community College, Glens Falls, NY, 1988; Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, 1997; Esther Allen Greer Museum, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, 2000; Art Institute of Chicago, 2001; Sewickley Library, Sewickley, PA, 2001, Gallery 20, New York, NY, 2001; Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS, 2002; Kingsborough Community College CUNY, Brooklyn, 2003; University of Connecticut, Storrs, 2004, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, 2005; and Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV, 2007. Work included in numerous group exhibitions, including Pennsylvania State University, 1955-60; City Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, 1961; American Watercolor Society exhibitions, 1965, 1967, 1969; New York Society of Illustrators exhibit, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1979; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, 1976; Museum of the Surreal and Art Fantastique, New York, NY, 1981; Carlyle Gallery, New York, NY, 1982-83; Circlework Visions Gallery, New York, NY, 1986; Allen Stone Gallery, New York, NY, 1989; Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, New York, NY, 1991; Staemphli Gallery, New York, NY, 1991; University of Mississippi at Oxford, 1991; Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ, 1992; Museum of Americah Illustration, New York, NY, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2005; University of Connecticut, Storrsy, 1996; and Muhlenberg College, 2003. Represented in public collections in United States, Cyprus, Germany, Japan, and Mexico, including at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, New York Stock Exchange, Lauren Rogers Museum, Library of Congress, Print Club at University of Mississippi, Huntington Museum of Art, Rutgers University, Kassel Documenta Archive, Cöln Ludwig Museum, and Stuttgart Staatsgalerie Grafische Sammlung. Military service: U.S. Army, became specialist 4.

Awards, Honors

Mary S. Litt Award, American Watercolor Society, 1967; Juror's Choice Award, Pennsylvania State University, 1971; merit award, National Art Director's Club, 1971, New York Society of Illustrators, 1972, 1973, and 1975, American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1975, Bicentennial in Print, 1976, Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington, 1976, and Federal Design Council, 1976; first prize award in professional category, Pennsylvania State University, 1972; Staten Island Advance Award, Staten Island Museum, 1974; Purchase Prize in invitational section, Rutgers University, 1974; Andy Award of Merit, Advertising Club of New York, 1979; Print Club Purchase Award and merit award, University of Mississippi, 1991; Parents' Choice Award, Parents' Choice Foundation, 1992, for Jim Ugly; Orbis Pictus Award, 2007, for Gregor Mendel.



The Pen and Ink Book: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist, Watson-Guptill, 1992.

Circus Train, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2001.

Also contributor to periodicals, including Watercolor.


Stan Steiner, The Last Horse, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1961.

Walter S. Carpenter and Philip Bluehouse, Two Knots on a Counting Rope: A Navaho Counting Book, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1964.

Katharine Carter, reteller, Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, Albert Whitman Publishing (Morton Grove, IL), 1965.

Edward William Lane, reteller, Tales from Arabian Nights, Albert Whitman Publishing (Morton Grove, IL), 1966.

Norman Borisoff, Lily, The Lovable Lion, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1975.

Bernard Evslin, Hercules, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.

Deborah Hautzig, reteller, The Wizard of Oz, Random House (New York, NY), 1984.

Robin McKinley, reteller, Tales from the Jungle Book, Random House (New York, NY), 1985.

George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1985.

Elizabeth Segel, selector, Short Takes: A Short-Story Collection for Young Readers, 1986.

Jenny Overton, Thirteen Days of Christmas, 1987.

Barbara Ann Brennan, Hands of Light, Pleiades Books, 1987.

Susan Cooper, Matthew's Dragon, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Helen V. Griffith, "Mine Will," Said John, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1992.

Sid Fleischman, Jim Ugly, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1992.

Lynne Reid Banks, The Adventures of King Midas, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.

Diana Wynne Jones, Stopping for a Spell: Three Fantasies, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1993.

Jessie Haas, Chipmunk!, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1993.

Mary Serfozo, Benjamin Bigfoot, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Susan Cooper, Danny and the Kings, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Diane Wolkstein, Step by Step, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

Jessie Haas, Mowing, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1994.

Betty Levin, Starshine and Sunglow, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1994.

Marc Gellman and Thomas Hartman, How Do You Spell God?: Answers to the Big Questions from around the World, foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Jessie Haas, A Blue for Beware, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1995.

Jessie Haas, No Foal Yet, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1995.

Nicholas Heller, Goblins in Green, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1995.

Jessie Haas, Sugaring, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Nancy Farmer, Runnery Granary, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Jessie Haas, Be Well, Beware, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Betty Levin, Gift Horse, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Mirra Ginsburg, Clay Boy, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1997.

Nicholas Heller, The Giant, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1997.

Sid Fleischman, Bandit's Moon, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1998.

Charlotte S. Huck, A Creepy Countdown, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1998.

Nicholas Heller, Ogres! Ogres! Ogres!: A Feasting Frenzy from A to Z, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1999.

Betty Levin, Creature Crossing, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1999.

Jessie Haas, Hurry!, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2000.

Nicholas Heller, Elwood and the Witch, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2000.

Susan Goldman Rubin, The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaughin Side by Side, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2001.

Rhonda Gowler Greene, Eek! Creak! Snicker, Sneak, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.

Jennifer Armstrong, Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2003.

Cheryl Bardoe, Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.

Arthur Yorinks, The Witch's Child, Abrams Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.


Sam Epstein and Beryl Epstein, European Folk Festivals, 1968.

The Sierra Club Survival Songbook, collected by Jim Morse and Nancy Mathews, Sierra Club, 1971.

MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville, Franklin Library, 1976.

Erica Jong, Witches, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1981.

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, and Other Tales, Franklin Library, 1982.

Contributor of editorial illustrations and political cartoons to periodicals, including Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Harper's, Der Spiegel, and New Times.


Apart from his long career as an educator, Jos. A. Smith worked as an editorial illustrator and political cartoonist for well-known periodicals such as the New York Times, Time, Harper's, and Newsweek—where Smith was the courtroom artist during the historic Watergate trial—before moving into children's book illustration. In addition to contributing art to stories by Mirra Ginsburg, Rhonda Gowler Greene, Nicholas Heller, Jessie Haas, and others, Smith has also been inspired to write his own self-illustrated story for children. Circus Train, published in 2001, follows a young boy who, left alone for the day at his family's new rural home, discovers a stranded train full of exotic animals, acrobats, and other performers. Timothy helps the train make it to town in time for the circus's evening show, an adventure that School Library Journal reviewer Barbara Buckley praised as "pure fantasy" and "the perfect daydream for a lonely and apprehensive child." Buckley described the book's art as "full of whimsy and color," and GraceAnne A. DeCandido predicted that, with its "shining colors and brilliant detail," Smith's "fanciful wish-fulfillment story … is sure to be a hit."

Smith's love of nature is revealed in his finely detailed, realistic illustrations for picture books such as Betsy Lewin's Creature Crossing as well as Chipmunk!, by Jessie Haas. Smith's "neatly framed color paintings" for Chipmunk! "capture the actions and emotions extraordinarily well," declared Deborah Abbott in her Booklist review. Also by Haas, Mowing focuses on Nora and Gramps, who are out cutting hay. Nora walks ahead of the horse-drawn mower, warning Gramps when a tiny, meadow-living creature is threatened by the sharp blade. In No Foal Yet, Nora and her grandparents endure the long wait for a new foal to be born in the stable. In Mowing Smith takes as his frame of reference the eye-level of the field animals, allowing "readers [to] see the humans and the horses as peripheral guests in the world," according to Mary Harris Veeder in Booklist. His watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations for No Foal Yet "are touched with gentle, golden light, like the light of a springtime twilight," Veeder exclaimed. Smith conveys the emotion underlying Haas's Sugaring, which details the many steps required to render maple syrup from tree sap. "This fictionalized portrayal allows Nora to take center stage in the sugaring process," observed Kay Weisman in Booklist, the critic adding that the process is depicted in minute detail to the benefit of interested young readers.

Special praise has been accorded Smith for his contribution to Jennifer Armstrong's picture-book biography Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier. In this large-format work Smith's "watercolor art, embellished with pencil, watercolor pencil, and pen and ink," mixes

with original images by nineteenth-century naturalist painter John James Audubon to provide a "dramatic" and "perfect complement to the vivid prose," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer. Praising Audubon as a "stunning picture book" School Library Journal contributor Robyn Walker added that "Smith's watercolor illustrations are so lifelike that one can virtually feel the beat of … swans' wings," while Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist that the illustrator's use of "varied layouts" results in "scenes that are pleasing in composition and color and often dramatic in content." Another biographical work, Cheryl Bardoe's Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas, also benefits from Smith's love of nature. Here he tracks Mendel's life from his decision to join monastic orders to his work in genetics. Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, deemed Gregor Mendel a "visually pleasing book," while in School Library Journal Patricia Manning called the work "a treat for the eye" due to "Smith's crisp, realistic paintings."

Smith's penchant for whimsy is given free rein in many of his book-illustration projects. In his work for Susan Cooper's Matthew's Dragon he brings to life the story of a boy who befriends a dragon that springs from the page of a picture book. Shrunk down to book size, Matthew and the dragon enjoy a snack together and do battle with a neighborhood cat before growing large and flying off into the sky to frolic with the other dragons created in the pages of fantasy fiction. In one of several collaborations with Heller, Smith conjures up a panoply of goblins to bring to life the alphabet book Goblins in Green. He mixes a troupe of hungry monsters with the same letters in Ogres! Ogres! Ogres! His illustrations for Charlotte Huck's A Creepy Countdown create similar humor, this time seasoning a basic counting book with a Halloween theme, and he follows the mischievous antics of two nocturnal hobgoblins in the pages of Rhonda Gowler Greene's Eek! Creak! Snicker, Sneak. Goblin antics are also the subject of Nancy Farmer's Runnery Granary, in which no one can figure who is stealing the grain from the family granary until Granny Runnery decides it must be goblins, and recites an old recipe for catching the tricky creatures.

In Matthew's Dragon "Smith's paintings of the dragon-crowded sky are truly breathtaking," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, while another critic for the same periodical dubbed Goblins in Green a "true treasure" in which Smith's inclusion of visual spoofs of famous paintings and films casts the work in a "zany" light. "The vibrant, detailed pictures" in Ogres! Ogres! Ogres! "portray the ogres caught in hilarious acts of bad manners as they play inappropriately with food," wrote Booklist critic Shelle Rosenfeld. Smith's scratchboard illustrations for A Creepy Countdown "capture the eerie holiday mood without being overly frightening." remarked Zvirin in Booklist, and a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded of Runnery Granary that "Smith's depiction of the greedy gnomes is just right: They're a wee bit scary, but not too much."

From the fantastic, Smith moves to the traditional in his work for Mirra Ginsburg's Clay Boy. Based on a Russian fable, the book introduces a creature who is cousin to the fabled Gingerbread Boy. Clay Boy is created by a lonely old couple. Perpetually hungry, he eats everything in sight and grows larger and larger, eventually gobbling up the old man and woman as well as a horse-drawn wagon. A wily goat saves the day, however, when it butts Clay Boy in his tummy, breaking the creature into brittle pieces and allowing all the people the boy has eaten to regain their freedom. "In their play with scale, the illustrations express a wonderful combination of the monstrous and the cozy," observed Hazel Rochman in a review of Clay Boy for Booklist.

Smith once told SATA: "I grew up in the town of State College, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University is located there. Although neither of my parents had had the opportunity to complete even grade school, they raised my brother and me to regard learning as the most important thing in our lives. It didn't matter what we wanted to do, they encouraged us. My brother is now retired chair of the industrial engineering department at Ohio State University, and I am a professor of fine art in the graduate fine art department and the undergraduate painting and drawing department at Pratt Institute in addition to my career as an artist.

"I was also fortunate to be asked by painter/illustrator Richard Lindner to be his studio assistant while I was a student at Pratt Institute. As a result of this I had a rare opportunity to meet and listen to his friends when they visited him in his studio. These included painter Marcel Duchamp, actress Greta Garbo, artist Adja Yunkers, and cartoonist Saul Steinberg. Lindner was one of the most sensitive people I have ever known. He would stop work in the studio and we would go off for hours riding on all the elevated subway lines we could find in search of a certain red chimney that he had seen once years before, or we might go to Central Park Zoo and look at the eyes of the gorilla because of a wise expression he had. Lindner and Hobson Pittman (a painter on the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia who I studied with every summer at Pennsylvania State University until he retired and turned his studio workshops over to me) had a profound influence on my life as an artist.

"Other important influences are related to my lifelong interest in drawing imagery from my unconscious for my drawings, sculptures, and paintings. I studied with Jean Houston of the Institute for Mind Research to learn non-drug techniques for inducing altered states. I joined the Princeton Zen Society to learn Zen meditation, and studied Jain meditation with Mouni Sri Chitrabanu, traditional shamanic trance techniques from the anthropologist Michael Harner and joined the Nying-mapa Lineage of the Tibetan Buddhists to learn their elaborate visualization techniques. I also studied bio-feedback therapy and own and have used an electroen-cephalogram (EEG) to record brainwave states evoked by these various methods, to understand them better. I use adaptations of all of these techniques to evoke imagery for my art, and occasionally incorporate some of the simpler forms in my art classes to enable other artists to be able to take advantage of them.

"Another of my lifelong interests is nature and the environment, and I have contributed my art to many environmental causes. One of the high points of my life in this area was spending one summer walking cross-country in East Africa, drawing people and photographing and filming wildlife. I have always had one or more pets, which usually included some snakes. For twenty years I shared my studio/loft in New York City with a boa constrictor and a ball python. Now I am living in Easton, Pennsylvania. My forested property abounds with birds and animals and snakes. My house, which includes my studio and my wife's printing studio, is shared by a Siamese cat named Suki and an aquarium full of local fish from the Delaware River."

Biographical and Critical Sources


American Artist, July, 1981, Jane Cottingham, "The Imaginary Drawings of Joseph A. Smith."

Booklist, October 15, 1993, Deborah Abbott, review of Danny and the Kings, p. 451, review of Chipmunk!, p. 452; March 15, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Step by Step, p. 1376; June 1, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Mowing, p. 1838; June 1, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of No Foal Yet, p. 1785; September 1, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Goblins in Green, p. 86; June 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Runnery Granary, p. 1731; November 15, 1996, Kay Weisman, review of Sugaring, p. 594; April 15, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Clay Boy, p. 1422; September 1, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of A Creepy Countdown, p. 133; March 1, 1999, Sally Estes, review of Jim Ugly, p. 1212; October 15, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Ogres! Ogres! Ogres!: A Feasting Frenzy from A to Z, p. 452; May 15, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Hurry!, p. 1748; August, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Elwood and the Witch, p. 2146; April 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Circus Train, p. 1480; November 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side by Side, p. 1366; April 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Audubon, p. 1391; July 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas, p. 62.

Horn Book, November-December, 1993, Ann A. Flowers, review of Danny and the Kings, p. 722; May-June, 1994, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Mowing, p. 315; September-October, 1996, Lolly Robinson, review of Runnery Granary, p. 575; March-April, 1997, Ann A. Flowers, review of Clay Boy, p. 206; May, 1999, review of Creature Crossing, p. 331; July, 2000, Martha V. Parravano, review of Hurry!, p. 435.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of The Yellow House, p. 1366; January 15, 2002, review of Eek! Creak! Snicker, Sneak, p. 104; March 15, 2003, review of Audubon, p. 458; August 15, 2006, review of Gregor Mendel, p. 835.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 1981, p. 386; July 12, 1991, review of Matthew's Dragon, p. 65; September 20, 1993, Elizabeth Devereaux and Kit Alderdice, review of Danny and the Kings, p. 39; March 14, 1994, review of Step by Step, p. 72; October 9, 1995, review of Goblins in Green, p. 86; May 20, 1996, review of Runnery Granary, p. 259; May 5, 1997, review of Clay Boy, p. 209; October 27, 1997, review of The Giant, p. 75; March 27, 2000, review of Bandit's Moon, p. 83; September 3, 2001, review of The Yellow House, p. 87; December 3, 2001, review of Eek! Creak! Snicker, Sneak, p. 59.

School Library Journal, September, 1984, p. 114; April, 1992, p. 113; February, 1994, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Chipmunk!, p. 84; June, 2000, Lee Bock, review of Hurry!, p. 114; September, 2000, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Elwood and the Witch, p. 199; April, 2001, Barbara Buckley, review of Circus Train, p. 122; January, 2002, Robin L. Gibson, review of The Yellow House, p. 124; February, 2002, Carol Ann Wilson, review of Eek! Creak! Snicker, Sneak, p. 101; May, 2003, Robyn Walker, review of Audubon, p. 134; September, 2006, Patricia Manning, review of Gregor Mendel, p. 188.

Teacher Librarian, September, 1998, Shirley Lewis, review of A Creepy Countdown, p. 47.


Drawger Web site, (July 24, 2007), "Jos. A. Smith."

Jos A. Smith Home Page, (July 24, 2007).

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