Michael Smither attended the Elam School of Fine Arts in 1959, where he was instructed by artists including John Weeks, A. Lois White and Robert Ellis. However, Smither was to leave Elam the next year, and was in effect largely self-taught, although he certainly adopted techniques from commercial art and painting (including a job working in a car spray shop) into his practice.
Smither moved around the country over the next four decades, supporting himself and his family through sales of his work, commissions and large-scale projects such as murals. In addition to his painting practice, Smither is also a musician and composer, and has lectured at Victoria University’s music department.
Smither’s paintings range from abstractions to highly personal realist works that include scenes of his children, partners and everyday life, religious subjects and landscape. A recurring motif in Smither’s work is the stony seashore of his native Taranaki, which in his work becomes an almost abstract arrangement of clustered globular volumes.