Richard Schmid artist
Richard Schmid in his New Hampshire studio with his plein air study (left) and the start of Abbotsford House. Photo: Nancy Guzik (Fine Art Connoisseur, September / October 2012)

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.

Richard Schmid, "Clayton Beck Painting"
Richard Schmid, “Clayton Beck Painting,” 2007, oil, 16 x 20 in. Private collection, Plein air

“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.”

Eric Rhoads and Richard Schmid
Eric Rhoads (left) with Richard Schmid (right), from “The Portrait Project” started in 2007.

“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, "Apple Blossoms" painting
Richard Schmid, “Apple Blossoms,” 2002, oil, 8 x 16 in. Private collection Plein air

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.

Richard Schmid, "Captain John’s House" painting
Richard Schmid, “Captain John’s House,” 2006, oil, 16 x 20 in.
Private collection
Plein air

“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.”

Richard Schmid painting en plein air
Richard Schmid, shown here painting “Apple Blossoms” on location in Vermont

30 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, my goodness, this is such sad news. Heartbreaking, especially for those close to him, and so many artists who learned from him. Thank you for letting us know, Eric. Prayers for his family and friends.

  2. i am truly saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Schmid. Although we never met, I came to know him through his books and videos and paintings and I considered him, as did so many, a living master. My little critique is so insignificant, but I marvelled at one mood he was able to create that I never found another painter to capture: the overcast sky on the verge of snow or rain with just a hint of light sneaking through a thin section of cloud directly overhead. I’ve never quite understood mood, but whenever I witness a Schmid painting I come very close to understanding. To me, there is a palpable void in the world of painters with the passing of Richard Schmid. Thank you, Richard, for your paintings and your books. Thank you for passing your knowledge to the Putney Painters, who will synthesize and integrate your knowledge into their own voices. I will look to them now as I seek your legacy.

  3. Richard was the brightest color in the spectrum of learning. I absorbed his books like a tender Filet Mignon .He will be missed but his legacy will live forever.

  4. The first time I saw one of his videos……I was captivated..I had never seen such art! We will miss you Richard.

  5. Beyond his incredible painting skill, Richard willingly shared his techniques and his methods, inspiring us all to believe that we, too, could see the beauty of the world around us and capture it on canvas.

    His work is beyond inspirational and his artistic soul is and will always be, divine.

  6. This wonderful man and superperb artist, teacher, writer and mentor to so many will be missed. Prayers to his family and friends.

  7. What a gift you gave us and what a legacy you left. You will be remembered as one of history’s greatest! I am blessed to have known you and seen your genius at work when you were here in Colorado for those glorious years. How blessed the world of art has been. You will be dearly missed dear Richard.

  8. Although we never met, Richard has been like a good friend through my art carrier. He will be greatly missed. Peter Taylor

  9. Richard Schmidt has left us a legacy of art and teaching that is of the highest calibre. His books, videos and the Putney Painters are part of that legacy; but his paintings are his contribution and testament to the wondrous and beautiful world he saw and captured in his work. My deepest sympathy to Nancy, his family and the Putney Painters. What a gift he had, and how generously he shared it with the rest of us!

  10. Like many others, I knew Richard Schmidt through his books and videos. However, I feel his loss personally. His character shone through his words and made him truly one of the greatest artists of the modern age. I think we are all blessed to have been touched by him in some way. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

  11. I have been fascinated by Richard’s paintings, his methods, and ability to render such emotion and feeling from his landscape paintings but also from paintings of Nancy and other subjects. I would have loved to travel to New Hampshire (a state I love and have been vacationing in since I was 10 years old) and visit with this very busy and productive artist. I have purchased two of his books and they are worth reading and looking at over and over again.
    My sympathies to his friends, family and painting buddies. A brilliant light has faded and gone out but hopefully because of him there will be many more bright lights to follow.

  12. I am so saddened by his passing. We have lost one of the greatest painters in the world. His legacy will live on forever. His paintings had such emotion and beauty, they touched the very soul of the viewer. I will cherish the books and videos in my collection. They have been and will continue to be a great inspiration to me as I go through this painting journey in my own life. Prayers are offered up for his family and friends. May peace and comfort be with them.

  13. The art world and its intersections have lost an enormous talent. Listening to him in videos and interviews one gets the sense of how unassuming, warm, and generous he was in sharing his unequaled artistic gifts. There’s a subtle transformative articulation that he had mastered in simple brush strokes, an unerring exactness in portraiture to place color and identity, coupled with such modesty. A rare talent and gracious person who will be missed by all who knew him or had the opportunity to witness the vision of his artwork.

  14. Lucky enough to win a lottery seat in his last Scottsdale workshop, I will never forget his kindness, precision and passion for creating art–in all of us. Nancy became a juror for one of the national shows of Women Artists of the West, and I met him again in that venue in Chicago as she judged our works. His positive influence on the art world is vast for every representational painter, and his legacy lives on through the gifts of his words, works and wisdom. Rest in Peace, and an embrace to Nancy during this time.

  15. A Lion of the arts with incredible talent and vision. His paintings were alive with color and beauty. I love his books and will always be thankful for the gifts he shared with all of us in his writing.

  16. I learned a huge amount from Richard, through his ‘Richard Schmid Paints Landscapes’ published by Watson Guptill 1975. I found his honesty and straightforwardness refreshing in an era when painting was developing away from a natural view of the world. His advice on painting outdoors has stayed with me and his approach has kept me company for 45 years, and only today I was out there with his techniques in mind. Thank you Richard.

  17. I am very sad to hear of his passing. I am not an artist, but I have been interested and an admirer of art for many, many years. The turning point for me, to really appreciating art and artists, is when my brother in law, who is an artist, showed me Richard Schmid paintings. So I feel that I owe my love of art to Mr Schmid, and my brother in law.
    I was fortunate enough to acquire a S/N print of “Memories”, which I’ve always considered my most prized material possession. It has always hung in my living room and viewed every day! I never tire of studying it and all the beautiful detail.
    Yes the art world is a sad one today. Richard Schmid will always hold a very special place in my soul. Thank you for all the beauty you have adorned our lives with.

  18. Thank you for sharing this tribute with us. I so enjoy Richard Schmid’s books and appreciate his communication abilities, which continue strong despite his passing. May he rest in peace, and his family know how much we appreciate him.

  19. Richard was the first artist/teacher I took lessons from flying from CA to NC. That week was amazing and I learned so much from him. He was truly a special man as many of you have said above.

  20. We are so sad to hear this news or Richard’s passing. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Richard Schmid in person, he has been a major influence and inspiration on my life and work ever since 1973 when the owner of the gallery where I started showing my works said she hoped we could meet sometime. I got a copy of his book “Richard Schmid Paints the Figure” and subsequently every book, article, and video I could find about him. My daughter, Natasha, who is also a painter and pianist/composer said, “He’s such a huge part of my world.”

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