Local artist uses gift for unique chalk-drawing ministry

Josh Smith, chalk and airbrushing artist, stands next to an airbrushing of an American flag he created for Beth Hoffer for her birthday.
Josh Smith, chalk and airbrushing artist, stands next to an airbrushing of an American flag he created for Beth Hoffer for her birthday. Photo by Lauren M. Wilson.

Originally published Aug. 15, 2013.

"As far as I can remember I've drawn," says Josh Smith, a local artist who specializes in airbrushing and chalk drawing.

And although he could turn it into a profession, he says, "This is a hobby/part-time job."

His works of art can be seen across the country. On display right here in Huntington County is a likeness of the American flag that he airbrushed on his pastor's pole barn.

The work of art was a birthday surprise for the wife of Rev. Mark Hoffer, Union Church pastor of adult ministries, says Smith.

"One day I was walking into my driveway ... I had a flagpole and the flags kept getting tattered and ripped and I thought, I'll just make that garage door into a flag," says Hoffer, "Then I thought, ‘I'm going to talk to Josh.' So, he came over and actually it was a surprise for my wife. We went on vacation ... and I waited till we got home (to show her)."

Hoffer says, "God gave him an awesome talent and I know he wants to use it."

Smith isn't just using his artistic ability to spruce up ordinary objects - he is also creating a ministry.

"I just started that (chalk drawing ministry) two years ago," says Smith, "I did it first at (Union Church's) Union Fest. It landed on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and I did a chalk drawing there. I've done a dozen since then ... and usually if I try to get out to other churches I put my testimony along with it and what the meaning behind the chalk drawing is."

Smith says he has performed most of his chalk drawings at his own church home, Union Church.

"(He) would really like to make it more of a ministry and go to other churches," says Hoffer.

"I've been praying about it for the past, well, since I've started it," adds Smith.

"When I first became a Christian that's how it found me - through airbrushing, because I didn't want to go to church.

"The church I was going to go to ... I was avoiding it.
The youth pastor did airbrushing, and that's all I wanted, was to know how to airbrush. I went the very first night and became a Christian that night.

"I figured since God reeled me in that way, I want to try to use it for that - His reasons."

Each chalk drawing takes him just a few minutes to complete and is drawn on a 5x4-foot bed sheet stapled to wood, says Smith.

"I jump up there and do a chalk drawing in 12 minutes," he explains.

"It would take (you and me) how many days to do that? And he does that in 12 minutes," says Hoffer, pointing to a chalk drawing Smith completed at Union Church.

Smith says he practices the chalk drawings once or twice before he completes them in public, which is usually done in front of an audience of 300 to 400 people.

"My wife made fun of me after (the first chalk drawing).
"A lot of people didn't think I was nervous but every time I went down to grab a different color my hand was (shaking)."

"It's a God-given gift," he continues.

"I did that chalk drawing, and it just touched people ... and people afterwards ... were coming across yards like, ‘Man, that really touched me,' and it kind of hit me - thinking that God wants me to do this as a ministry.

"If I can go to churches and do a chalk drawing and have it touch people that would mean more than $2,000 (income) on an (airbrushed) vehicle.

"I'd spend hours painting on vehicles. I mean, there is a motorcycle out in Maryland that I painted for 30 hours and I was like ‘I know this is going to make a magazine cover.' That's all I strived on was trying to make magazine covers, and it never even made it into a magazine. And I was bumming, you know? I just almost gave up on it."

With his chalk drawings bringing new purpose to his art, Smith is setting up booths at Markle's Ride 2 Provide on Aug. 17 and the James Dean Festival in Fairmount Sept. 27-29.

Although he hopes to spread ministry by performing chalk drawings, he is still airbrushing as well.

Smith says his airbrushed art is usually done on a 16x20 canvas, and half of the profits from those that are ordered at Ride 2 Provide will be donated to the cause.

To see more of his art, visit www.smithart01.com or follow him on Facebook by searching for "Smith Art."
He may also be reached at 388-4441.