The art community is feeling a great loss, as we’ve learned about the recent passing of artist, author, teacher, and speaker Richard Schmid.
Richard was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1934. His earliest artistic influence came from his maternal grandfather, Julian Oates, an architectural sculptor. Richard’s initial training in landscape painting began at the age of 12 with the Chicago painter Gianni Cilfone. Subsequent studies in anatomy and figure drawing allowed his entrance at 18 into the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he continued into the full range of classical techniques under William H. Mosby.
Throughout his career, which saw more than 50 one-man shows, Richard promoted art education through his books, articles, workshops, seminars, and television presentations. He traveled widely for his subjects, and lived in New Hampshire with his wife, the painter Nancy Guzik. Richard held a Doctorate in Fine Art and was a recipient of The John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement.
“Each one of us is here to make this world a better place through our art,” said Nancy. “What you create is important and who you are is to be treasured, and that together we can fill this world with beauty and make it a better place for all.”
“I’m saddened to learn of Richard’s passing,” said Fine Art Connoisseur publisher Eric Rhoads. “My deep condolences to Nancy, Molly, Gretchen, his family, and the Putney painters.
“Richard was, for many of us, the greatest living painter. His leadership was unparalleled, his generosity and passion for teaching influenced millions. He will be fondly remembered by history as one of the greats.
“I have fond memories of painting alongside Richard, watching him paint a portrait as I stood and painted right behind him trying to copy every brushstroke. He and Nancy dined with Laurie and me, and we’ve had the pleasure of representing his books and videos for years. My fondest memory was the day he painted my portrait and sitting around talking about art afterwards.
“Richard was bigger than life and will be even bigger in death.”
Nancy and the family will be sharing a longer statement at a future date.
If you would like to send Nancy or the family a card you can do so care of:
Village Arts of Putney
114 Westminster Rd
Putney, Vermont 05346
One way we’d like to honor his memory is by sharing with you an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Plein Air Magazine (August/September 2018).
Richard Schmid: The Joy of Seeing
This champion of alla prima, representational painting sums up the quality that has driven a lifetime of plein air work in one word: honesty.
by John A. Parks
Few painters are more revered by their fellow artists than Richard Schmid. In picture after glorious picture, he achieves a kind of “holy grail” of representational painting in which the brushwork is energetic yet sensitive, the color vibrant yet subtle, and the illusion convincing without being labored or overstated. But far more than his considerable technical mastery, it is the sense of sheer joy at looking at and being in the world projected by Schmid’s paintings that engages and captivates the viewer. Painted almost always directly from life, his paintings resonate with his audience as vital and authentic responses to myriad unique situations.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the artist’s landscapes, where we find ourselves taken along on an adventure of looking, seeing, and simply relishing a host of varied places, seasons, atmospheres, and vistas. A new, enhanced version of “The Landscapes,” a book that reproduces the best of Schmid’s work in that genre, has recently been released, giving us the opportunity to enjoy both the paintings and the artist’s observations.
“The most enjoyable experience for me is still plein air painting … and its natural companion, alla prima (painting from life),” writes Schmid. “What could be more exhilarating than getting out under a great sky and feeling a fresh breeze while I paint the delights of nature? Painting on the spot from life is the method I learned from the start of my training, and the one I regard as the most challenging and therefore most rewarding.”
Of course, Schmid is fully aware of the extraordinary difficulties, obstacles, and discomforts that painting outdoors so often presents. “Everything imaginable can go wrong,” he writes. “We cannot control the weather, or arrange the scenery, or give ourselves more time or more light, or be more comfortable or tell the bugs to go elsewhere.” The artist even remembers being thrown off an Indian reservation at gunpoint when it turned out he was painting a sacred site. “We must accept whatever circumstances are present at the time and place we choose to paint,” he says.
It is in the very strictures of this situation, where so much is beyond the control of the artist, that Schmid finds inspiration as well as enormous satisfaction in overcoming the various hardships and difficulties that working in plein air presents. In comparison, working from a photograph, he says, feels unexciting, even boring. “The delicious challenge is missing,” he writes. “I prefer my work to spring from my immediate and direct experience of my subject, not an image from an unthinking optical device.”