Brighton Demerest-Smith

Brighton Demerest-Smith

Classically Trained Artist, Educator

Brighton Demerest-Smith has taught with Great Hearts Academies since 2013 and is a classically trained artist. His work is in collections in Scottsdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, New York, and internationally in London, Paris, and Berlin. His work is represented by Skidmore Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA. Smith has presented at the Arizona Art Educators Conference and at the 2022 National Symposium for Classical Education.

His academic interests are drawing, painting, art educational history and theory. He has read and written on Arthur Schopenhauer, and Martin Heidegger. He is also interested in how modern and contemporary artists engage with the tradition of art history. In graduate school, he wrote on artists David Hockney, Nicolas Poussin, Jacques-Louis David and abstract painters Mark Rothko and Agnes Pelton. While in undergrad Smith was mentored by the late artist, art historian, and curator, Michael Zakian, who studied drawing with Robert Beverly Hale. In 2016 he began an artistic friendship with the iconic American Pop Artist Wayne Thiebaud, visiting with him and having phone and zoom critique meetings with him until the artist passed away in December 2021 at the age of 101. Smith’s philosophy of working from the masters was shaped by Zakian and Thiebaud.

As an educator, Smith has championed observational drawing. He limits students to drawing and painting solely from observation. His form of art education is analytical, Socratic, traditional and meant for all levels of students from very beginners to accomplished artists. Smith has carefully crafted a studio art curriculum that builds upon a tradition of drawing and painting which dates back to the 14th century.

He serves as a Master Teacher of the Fine Arts with Great Hearts Academies, where he teaches students and trains faculty in classroom pedagogy and studio art skills. He is a member of the Great Hearts curricular team and has taught nearly every grade level (K to 12). Outside of his regular teaching position he instructs artist professionals in figure drawing.


  • MFA Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 2024
  • BA Pepperdine University 2013