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.

American Art Collector - - Contents - By Joshua Rose

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"

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