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Wright Smith

Wright Smith, born and raised in Wilson, North Carolina, is an award-winning craftsman. In 2018, he was recognized by "Our State" magazine as one of the top artisans in North Carolina as part of their "Best in Our State" annual competition. Wright's attention to every detail that goes into each piece adds to their special quality.


He currently resides in the Wilmington, NC area with his wife,  Gail. In 2012, they formed WaterLife Art to further their artistic pursuits.

Gail Smith

A native of Martinsville, VA, Gail Smith is a retired fundraising executive who followed her husband, Wright Smith, to Wilmington, NC in 2006. 


Retirement made room in her life for new artistic pursuits. Previous creative outlets included interior design, graphic design, playing piano, and arranging flowers, but it was her appreciation for fine art – especially oils on canvas – that led her to explore painting. 

Wright transforms nature's handiwork to create unique driftwood lamps, tables, and more recently, distinctive lazy susans, trivets, chargers, coasters, and pendant chandeliers. Most of the wood he uses is over 100 years old, having fallen off barges that operated on the Cape Fear River in the 1800's and early 1900's and sunk to the bottom of the river. The silt and lack of oxygen helped preserve these historic logs until they were disturbed by modern-day dredging, which caused many pieces to float to the river's surface and travel with the currents until they became lodged at various locations along the shore.

Each piece is carefully chosen to highlight its natural beauty and function. Once on dry land, they are power washed several times, then dried and seasoned for 1-3 years before the transformation into a unique work of art begins. This process includes cutting the wood at the precise location, leveling, brushing, sanding, shaping bases, accurately drilling for electrical cords, assembling the various parts, including the sisal rope-wrapped metal parts and hand-made finials, and finally applying polyurethane to seal the ancient wood.

Any decor - coastal, traditional, modern, or eclectic- can be enhanced by these beautiful pieces. Owning a Wright Smith original allows you to not only have a one-of-a-kind signature piece of coastal North Carolina history in your home or business, but also to enjoy the unique beauty of his and Nature's creation.

Gail's art education has been a self-directed process that began with studying books and videos by well-known artists, then taking lessons from some of the best artists in our region. In 13 years of study and experimentation, she has developed a unique style that highlights focal points with a realistic touch while softening the overall effect using more impressionistic techniques. The result is a painterly representation routinely described by viewers as peaceful or tranquil.


Living on the Brunswick River, she finds inspiration all around – in the ever-changing river, light sparkling on the water, swaying marsh grasses that change from green to gold with the seasons, shore birds flying overhead and wading in the marsh, magnificent skies that shift with every breeze. There is literally an unlimited supply of subject matter in her back yard. She enjoys painting a variety of subjects, including landscapes, seascapes, birds, animals, flowers, and still lifes. Some reflect her Virginia roots, most coastal Carolina. Her grandchildren are the inspiration for a series of children’s paintings. 

Gail finds great satisfaction in creating one-of-a-kind pieces to share with others, especially images that evoke memories of familiar places, experiences, even childhood. Her paintings can be found in local galleries and juried shows around the region. Even after originals have sold, superior quality reproductions are available.

News Articles

Porters Neck Living Magazine, April, 2018

Porters Neck Living Magazine, October, 2019

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