A LIFE IN ART
West Wind Fine Art presents a tribute to Richard Schmid in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his book, Alla Prima II.
CContemporary realism as a genre owes a deep level of gratitude to the life and career of risk taker Richard Schmid, who carried the torch for realism throughout several decades until it reemerged in popularity in the mid-1990s. Some of this debt will be paid back later this month when Kristen Thies and West Wind Fine Art host a tribute to Richard Schmid in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his book Alla Prima II at the Laumeister Art Center in Bennington, Vermont, September 22 and 23.
The tribute will consist of a variety of different events for both collectors and artists to enjoy. In the main gallery at the art center, Thies has chosen a group of 10 to 12 Schmid masterworks for a two-day exhibition. The group includes a new painting titled Captain John’s Orchard as well as classics such as a sketch of Abbotsford House and another titled Nancy and Friends. There will also be a panel discussion and another exhibition with seven of Schmid’s protégés, including his partner Nancy Guzik, Kathy Anderson, Stephanie Birdsall, Scott Burdick, Michelle Dunaway, Daniel J. Keys, Susan Lyon and the late Timothy R. Thies.
After the panel discussion, there will be a film showcase of Schmid’s work including The Senator and the Artist, The Secret Squint and Abbotsford House—The creation of a Masterwork-The home of Sir Walter Scott.
Schmid, at 83, refuses to slow down and is actually working now as an author almost as much as he’s painting. He is completing a book on his still life paintings, then launching a book on his landscapes, which will be out this fall, and then he will get started on yet another volume, this time featuring his famous portrait work.
“Richard Schmid has long been deemed an artist’s artist,” says Louis A. Zona, director of the Butler Institute of American Art. “What greater recognition exists than to be revered by one’s peers? Artists who have earned this most honored designation in the history of art have been those whose unique talents have inspired and indeed challenged their contemporaries. This exhibition reveals without doubt that Schmid ranks among the elite painters of the narrative tradition.”
“Ever since I ‘retired,’ I’ve been busy as ever! The landscape book is bringing me back to my early paintings, and as I write about it and explain it, it amazes me as to how much I remember about all the circumstances around each painting,” says Schmid. “What kind of day it was, what I was feeling, what was going through my life at the moment. It’s amazing what these images triggered when I saw them again. It all came back to me.”
The Landscapes Enhanced Edition book will document the first paintings Schmid did, starting in the Midwest, with places like Chicago, Wisconsin and Iowa. He then moved to New York after serving in the U.S. Army, and so there will also be early city scenes from that period in his life.
“I loved all the parks in the city,” says Schmid. “All the parks and fountains and monuments and just the craziness of New York at that time were fascinating. And then I settled in New England for a long while and that section is divided into winter, spring, summer and autumn. A lot of the book will also showcase my travels out West, with places like Colorado, Wyoming, Canada and Alaska. My book finishes with paintings I completed in United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, The Caribbean, Panama and South America.”
With over 65 years as an artist, Schmid feels as if he is still learning his trade, still perfecting his style, and always keeping himself open to new ideas. These days, he believes that what will continue this evolution in painting is to work with groups of other artists, and to openly share as much information as possible.
“When I got around to painting with other artists—the Palette & Chisel in Chicago, the Loveland Academy in Colorado, and then later the Putney Painters in Vermont, it was a whole new experience for me,” says Schmid. “And this is because I became aware not just of my problems but other artist’s problems and how they responded to those challenges. Each person has a way of seeing the world and putting that on canvas, and that in turn opened up new ways of seeing things for myself as well. That couldn’t have happened if I had been painting by myself.”
Schmid also now enjoys painting in groups because it gives him an opportunity to explain what he is doing. “I had a wonderful education,” says Schmid. “And when I tried to explain what I was taught, I had to articulate very clearly what I was doing and why I was doing it. This led to me writing the Alla Prima and Alla Prima II book. It opened up a whole new world of writing to me and allowed me to be expressive in word as well as in paint. When you are talking about something technical in painting, you can’t just say to people, ‘Well you have to just get more feeling in the brush.’ What you have to say is ‘grab the brush like this, stick it in the cadmium yellow, and put it here like this,’ etc. It’s very specific. Otherwise, people won’t get anything out of it.”
Schmid is enjoying painting now more than ever and states that as long as the brain is working one can paint forever. “It reminds me of what I read about Renoir in his old age. He had very bad arthritis. Painfully so. But his son would wrap his brushes in his hands so he could continue painting,” Schmid says.
“To me, my art is the same joy I’ve always felt, but even more exciting and more rewarding, because in the beginning, I would just go out and paint. Now I see more
amazing subtleties that I couldn’t recognize when I was younger,” he says. “Now, at 83, as I think about what I see, I realize that the young man I once was could never have appreciated what I see and understand now when I look at the world of nature.”
Schmid has much optimism about the world of art right now, especially when it comes to realism. He has never been shy about adapting to the latest technology and has spent many hours on press using the latest digital printing methods to perfect the images in all his books. And this technology has had a profound effect on what artists are doing today.
“What I’m seeing is just how much a difference the internet has made on the art world,” says Schmid. “There is a worldwide dialogue going on between artists today, and this sharing of information is very exciting. In the early days of Art, many of the Masters were very secretive about how they painted because they didn’t want others to use their methods. Today, however, anytime, day or night, you can find artists sharing their information all over the world. BRAVO!”
Richard Schmid, Pansies, oil, 8 x 16"
1Nancy Guzik, Spring, oil, 7½ x 12"2Kathy Anderson, Apple Blossoms in Tiffany, oil, 8 x 12"3Stephanie Birdsall, Obsessions, oil, 12 x 20"4Scott Burdick, Turquoise Shawl, India oil, 14 x 11"