Customers from Clinton no longer have to travel all the way to Wallace in order to buy a custom-made framed piece of art from Hope Smith because what was meant to be a “drop-off” location is now a full gallery and store. And Smith is just fine with that, she quickly admitted during an interview from her Clinton location.
With K-Love softly playing in the background of the shop, Smith makes herself comfortable, easing into a conversation about why she started Art of Hope and why the downtown Clinton location, at 106 E Main St., came to fruition.
It beings and ends, she acknowledged, with her faith in God.
“My goal and purpose is to present the Word of God through my artwork in a different way so that people can see it, hopefully the way God intended them to see the word of God,” Smith defined as the reasoning behind Art of Hope.
Within her artwork, she uses Bible verses that people may ask for or verses that she has meditated on for a certain amount of time. The verse she calls her “eye-0pener,” was Psalm 25:4-5, the one that has brought her to this point in her life. Smith originally hid the piece because she didn’t think anyone would like it; however, one day her mother found it and gave her the encouragement she needed.
She explained how, in the beginning, the Lord was telling her not to paint with her head but with her heart and soon with her soul. While painting pieces for the public and for herself at the store, Smith also does live paintings for weddings, a variety of special services, conferences and many other events.
“I didn’t used to want anyone to watch me paint but once I started doing them, I started to realize it’s not about me but it’s more about what’s going on, the feeling behind it, and capturing the moment.”
Smith said if she, and thus the store, had a motto it would be Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God…”
“The only reason I’m this successful is because of God’s word and listening to His voice,” Smith attested, passion rising in her voice. With her faith in the Lord and the support of her husband and two children, Smith has been able to successfully open up two stores without having a background in business.
The Clinton store was supposed to be a place for customers to pick up their purchased artwork without having to drive all the way to Wallace. When asked if she saw herself opening another store, Smith responded with a small laugh and said, “if the Lord leads me again, then I’ll do it.” Although she has thought about the different locations, she isn’t sure when or where she’ll open another one. One thing she is sure of is the importance of God’s word being spread. “I want there to be more Christian-based businesses and I want God’s word to be out there more. I see it happening every day; I see people moved by His word.”
At her Clinton location, Smith has Emily and Rachel there to watch over the store while she is out of town or working at the Wallace location.
“With the Lord, it’s about relationships,” she pointed out. “It’s more than just employer and employee but about building a relationship,” Smith said.
“When you’re able to have good people work with you, you’re able to expand.” She commends her staff, giving them much of the credit for the successes she is able to have.
When she’s working at another location, she said she has trust that her other business is being taken care of by the employees she has left in charge. Smith mentioned how she wasn’t too worried about having the store in Clinton because she knew the Wallace location would be fine with her employee Regina. When first deciding on whether or not to open another store, she wanted Regina’s opinion because of how much work would be put on her; she told Smith she trusted her because she knew she was following the Lord. “We’ve grown in the Lord together” Smith mentioned when describing her relationship with Regina, the same kind of relationship she is now building with her Clinton staff.
Smith expresses her love and trust for God and His word, not only through her art, but also by the way she uses Him as her guide,whether it’s with her business, her relationship with her employees, or even with deciding what she was going to do with her life. “God has really led me in all of this and I just couldn’t do it without Him” Smith noted.
Smith believes, “as long as we make Him our purpose, then we’ll be successful in whatever we do.”
Visit Art of Hope Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and let the colorful pieces speak to you as soon as you walk through the door!