Observations on Richard Schmid

edited April 2019 in General Discussion
I recently watched an instructional painting video by Richard Schmid. I don't know how many of you are familiar with this artist, but he is mostly known for his landscape paintings I believe, although he also paints some magnificent portraits and figure work. Anyway, I learned through watching his video that he creates his landscapes, which look very realistic from a distance, by relying mostly on tricks of the brush. He begins by loosely scrubbing in washes of flat color all over the canvas, and then works into this with loose strokes of thicker paint loosely mixed. Later he will work into the wet paint things such as buildings or objects that require more precision using a variety of brushes. I was amused by the way he swings and "pushes" his brushes in all directions and with such confidence, that almost looks like carelessness, with very impressive results. The picture is at first rather abstract in all of its shapes, but he gradually pulls it all together and soon begins to achieve the image he is after. I admit that the results he gets are highly impressive, but I felt that he was taking lots of short cuts to get those effects. But don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to knock his style, he is a great artist, but if you compare him to many painters of say, the 19th century, you know, those classical academic methods, Ingres, Leighton, Bougeureau, among many others, the styles are radically different. Just thought I'd share these personal observations. 
edavisonMichaelD

Comments

  • I agree with a lot of what you have said Leo. But might I ask you to reflect on the way you describe 'short cuts' almost as if he is cheating. :)

    I think Schmid has influences from the impressionists rather than the classical academic methods of Ingres, Leighton, Bougeureau.

    Leo2015Kaustav
  • Richard Schmid is an incredible painter. And his book on Alla Prima painting is practically the “Bible” of wet-into-wet technique. 

    It’s been a few years since I’ve read it...but from what I recall a lot of his advice is similar to Mark Carder’s. That is, the emphasis on correct values, leaving brush strokes alone and only placing the right color and value in the right spots. 

    I don’t get the impression he relies on tricks. It’s more that he’s just very experienced and knows how to get the affects he wants. I think his emphasis on painting things as he sees them would keep him from using the generic tricks that some landscape painters fall into... where they are painting every tree and mountain following the same forumala. (Bob Ross pallet knife method anyone?  =)  )
    Leo2015tassieguyJulianna
  • edited April 2019
    I love Schmid's landscapes! So beautiful. 
    Leo2015
  • edited April 2019
    Richard_P said:
    I agree with a lot of what you have said Leo. But might I ask you to reflect on the way you describe 'short cuts' almost as if he is cheating. :)

    I think Schmid has influences from the impressionists rather than the classical academic methods of Ingres, Leighton, Bougeureau.

    Lol, I knew the use of that word would get me in trouble! (edavison). I didn't want to say cheating so I opted for "tricks" instead even though that wasn't really the word I was looking for either. Maybe "accidents" would have been better? By that I mean very loose abstract or undefined and quickly painted shapes that are pretty much left as they are as soon as they are applied. They certainly do catch the effect we see in nature but it almost seems too easy and so I called them "short cuts". But in all honesty, I'm not saying his methods are somehow inferior or bad, it's just not the way I understand oil painting. Maybe I've spent too much of my life looking at dusty old pictures in the museums? 
    Julianna
  • edited April 2019
    edavison said:
    Richard Schmid is an incredible painter. And his book on Alla Prima painting is practically the “Bible” of wet-into-wet technique. 

    It’s been a few years since I’ve read it...but from what I recall a lot of his advice is similar to Mark Carder’s. That is, the emphasis on correct values, leaving brush strokes alone and only placing the right color and value in the right spots. 

    I don’t get the impression he relies on tricks. It’s more that he’s just very experienced and knows how to get the affects he wants. I think his emphasis on painting things as he sees them would keep him from using the generic tricks that some landscape painters fall into... where they are painting every tree and mountain following the same forumala. (Bob Ross pallet knife method anyone?  =)  )
    I agree, Schmid is an incredible painter no doubt about that. But I wasn't so much comparing him to people like Bob Ross or William Alexander, (they over simplify too much) but rather to the older painters of the 19th century as I mentioned above. They were more in the habit of making very precise drawings on their canvases and then would "fill in" the shapes which never looked cut out as tends to happen with a lot of painters who use that approach. They did not rely on any accidental effects to achieve the look of nature and no doubt it is a rather tedious way of painting but many schools today are reviving those older methods. Richard is correct when he says that Schmid is basing his style on the Impressionists rather than the academics, but I think his work also reflects something of the academic look in his art don;t you think? That's what draws me to it. 
    edavison
  • tassieguy said:
    I love Schmid's landscapes! So beautiful. 
    I agree 100%, amazing stuff! And he seems like a very down to earth guy. 
  • What stands out in his work for me is the amazing draftsmanship and brush control combined with a deep understanding of value and colour. I love the way he will make a mark and just leave it, without blending and fiddling with it, then put just the right mark next to it. I can only dream of painting like he does. 
    Leo2015edavison
  • Yea, I said I was amused by the way he handles his brush, sometimes pushing it upwards in a way I always thought was a no no in painting. Or he'll use brushes that many would throw away as useless to get a broken or scratchy look to the paint which mimics the branches of trees as seen from a great distance. He handles his brushes like a wizard handles a magic wand. I learned a lot by watching his demo that's for sure. 
    tassieguy
  • @Leo2015 Today is the best time to be an artist because there isn't just one style to paint a picture. Schmidt and many others of the California artists use this sort of modern impressionism  method to paint their pictures. I also painted some in this style before getting on with older methods of painting but here again too my goal isto create illusion of reality. He is a master of this painting technique. In a way he is similar to the old Australian impressionist painters. See the examples, he's not that unique.


    Schmidt



    Old Australian



    JuliannaMichaelDedavison
  • edited April 2019
    Thanks for posting those, @Kaustav. Yes, I see similarities in technique and style between Schmid's landscapes and the 19th C Australian Heidelberg School. The few landscapes Sargent painted also show similarities :)
    KaustavJulianna
  • exactly @Kaustav    brilliant examples.

    Kaustav
  • edited May 2019
    Yes, I am somewhat familiar with other earlier artists who also painted in a style similar to that of R. Schmid, and although it is based on Impressionist methods as we mentioned before, it is not really like it in the true sense of the Impressionist method as understood in the days of Manet and others which I think was much more simple and depended more on of pre planned color shapes of color rather than on ambiguous or abstract shapes very loosely applied and intended to suggest complex areas of foliage and atmosphere with broad strokes of half mixed shades of color. I think the Americans who went to France to study painting back in the later 19th century took things much further and created something all their own when the came back to this country. It's good to see artists bringing this style back. 
    Kaustav
  • edited April 2019
    @tassieguy @Julianna There isn't anything new to do but to follow what has been done already  :p
    Julianna
  • edited April 2019
    @Leo2015 i'm just curious what your experience is with Richard Schmid - I have read his Alla Prima books about  four times (both of them) - although I have never seen him paint in person, I have purchased many (most) of his painting videos.....  I'm not an expert by any means on the Master but your take on him is confusing to me.  He doesn't have "tricks" or "accidents"- he has skill and years and years and years of experience and diligence.  Before I was born, this man was oil painting and has every year, ever since, for more hours than I can ever imagine and he has the respect of many of the greatest living artists of our time.  Your review of him seems to be of a snippet of a single video you happened to watch - have you read his books?  have you seen him paint in a workshop? How many instructional videos of his have you seen?
    Bancroft414
  • edited April 2019
    Leo2015 said:
    Yes, I am somewhat familiar with other earlier artists who also painted in a style to that of R. Schmid, and although it is based on Impressionist methods as we mentioned before, it is not really like it in the true sense of the Impressionist method as understood in the days of Manet and others which I think was much more simple and depended more on deliberate application of the color rather than on abstract shapes very loosely applied and intended to suggest complex areas of foliage and atmosphere with broad strokes of half mixed shades of color. I think the Americans who went to France to study painting back in the later 19th century took things much further and created something all their own when the came back to this country. It's good to see artists bringing this style back. 
    The term 'Impressionism' was accidentally attached to the way Monet & co. painted. When you are painting your own impression iow abbreviated form of painting rather than a detailed one it becomes Impressionism. it's only our preferences that guide us and we make our own truth. But there are more things. To me the following are also impressions but not painted in dabs but with sketchy strokes just the way Schmidt painting with big strokes and knives.

    One thing I must make it clear is that even though he's a master, I don't find that style attractive. I like the ones similar to Mauve's paintings.

    Mauve


    Sargent

    Zorn


    Hogarth


    JuliannatassieguyLeo2015
  • @Kaustav   there needs to be a "WOW!!!!!!!!!" button - those examples are fabulous.   WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

  • edited April 2019
    Sometimes, happy accidents happen in painting. We thoughtlessly dab and, Hey Presto!, it works. But not often.  I guess the trick is to recognize those accidents that work and those that don't. Schmit is such a master at pushing paint around that all his marks look like the happiest of accidents. But his seeming accidents didn't just happen. And they needed more than just raw talent (which, no doubt, he has in spades) and more than aimless paint pushing.  I suspect they also needed intense study of previous masters and thousands of hours of gruelling trial and error.

    However talented he was, Beethoven wasn't born with the 5th Symphony fully formed in his brain. He had to do the hard work of learning musical notation, harmony and countertpoint, how to play instruments and listen, listen, listen and practice, practice, practice ... And then apply all that learning to his own aesthetic yearning in order to arrive at such a masterpeice. Shakespear had to read and write,  read and write... I guess painting is the same. Schmid wasn't born capable of doing what he does. A lot of learning and work had to happen first. As Mark says, raw talent is a myth. And so is the accidental masterpeice.

    Schmid's work speaks to me. Especially his sublime landscapes for which he has been honored and for which he will be rightly remembered..
    Leo2015
  • Just have to say, this morning, with a cup of my new freshly ground Bulletproof coffee (no mold), that what impresses me the most about all of the painters represented above, including you @Leo2015, is that you all have REAL STYLE!!!  That seems to matter to me first and foremost.  Just saying.  Summer 

    Leo2015tassieguy
  • edited April 2019
    Kaustav said:
    @tassieguy @Julianna There isn't anything new to do but to follow what has been done already  :p
    Thanks for your input Kaustav. I adjusted a line in my comments posted (above your comments quoted here) since my thoughts were not properly expressed. Hope it makes more sense. 
  • edited April 2019
    There's plenty new to do. @Kaustav. It's just that we can't do it alone without reference to the past. :)
    Leo2015
  • edited April 2019
    Julianna said:
    @Leo2015 i'm just curious what your experience is with Richard Schmid - I have read his Alla Prima books about  four times (both of them) - although I have never seen him paint in person, I have purchased many (most) of his painting videos.....  I'm not an expert by any means on the Master but your take on him is confusing to me.  He doesn't have "tricks" or "accidents"- he has skill and years and years and years of experience and diligence.  Before I was born, this man was oil painting and has every year, ever since, for more hours than I can ever imagine and he has the respect of many of the greatest living artists of our time.  Your review of him seems to be of a snippet of a single video you happened to watch - have you read his books?  have you seen him paint in a workshop? How many instructional videos of his have you seen?
    Well first of all I'm sorry if my opinion about R. Schmid have caused you any confusion. As I said already, Schmid is indeed a great artist, so I was not attempting to dismiss him as some sort of artistic charlatan, not at all. I understand he has been painting since he was 12 years old and that his father was also a painter, so no doubt he has learned a lot from many years of experience. My observations were really only a comparison between the way he works and the way I have learned through reading many books on painting concerning artists methods, and by visiting museums, focusing mainly on art beginning with 15th century artists and up to the academic painters of the 19th century. I think I already explained these comparisons above so it isn't necessary to repeat it here. My main point being that the older methods depend much more on careful planning which involves making many thumb nail drawings and oil sketches, and highly accurate drawings, before moving on to the final work. I have no doubt that Mr Schmid also uses these methods when making larger important pieces but I also think that even here he makes use of accidental techniques that were not common with many of the older painters, and I don't mean that as a put down. I guess it would be accurate to say that he is merging the Academic school with the American Impressionist school of art? Maybe a good name for it could be "Academic alla prima"?  Again, these are just personal observations, thats all. 
  • Kaustav, yes, those are all very fine examples. I do however see a certain similarity between Mauve and Schmid. I recently began looking at pictures by J.H.Twachtman, another painter who has mixed the impressionist way of looking at things with the academic approach. It's all good stuff. 
    tassieguyKaustav
  • tassieguy, Schmid's work speaks to me too that's why I purchased two of his instructional videos. But I still think his method depends on "accidents" though very cleverly applied and taken advantage of. Painting comes easy to him so he can pull it off successfully. I don't think it degrades his art, since it's really an advanced form of alla prima painting. As Kaustav pointed out, the method isn't new, no it isn't, but it is certainly highly effective. 
    tassieguy
  • edited April 2019
    The traditional academic approach for a long time was to leave no trace of brush marks so I would guess that their skill with different mark making was actually less than that of painters like Schmid..
  • Summer said:
    Just have to say, this morning, with a cup of my new freshly ground Bulletproof coffee (no mold), that what impresses me the most about all of the painters represented above, including you @Leo2015, is that you all have REAL STYLE!!!  That seems to matter to me first and foremost.  Just saying.  Summer 

    Thank you kindly Summer, it's a good art community and we're all learning new things. 
    SummerJulianna
  • edited April 2019
    @Leo2015 excellent. Twachtman was certainly an impressionist. I have two picture of Anton Mauve. One is impressionistic and the other is more academic or may be realist technique (layered). So, everyone uses a lot of techniques depending upon the situation. 


    Leo2015Julianna
  • edited May 2019
    Leo2015 said:
    tassieguy, Schmid's work speaks to me too that's why I purchased two of his instructional videos. But I still think his method depends on "accidents" though very cleverly applied and taken advantage of. Painting comes easy to him so he can pull it off successfully. I don't think it degrades his art, since it's really an advanced form of alla prima painting. As Kaustav pointed out, the method isn't new, no it isn't, but it is certainly highly effective. 
    I agree, @Leo2015 . There are  happy accidents that are recognised by the good painter and bad accidents that should be expunged but which are often not even recogmised as bad  by lesser painters. Schmid has lots of the former accidents and few of the latter. His happy accidents happen because he knows how to make them and his landscapes are great because he knows to get rid of less happy inadvertencies. 
    Leo2015cajunrph
  • @Leo2015 I suppose the difference is that I believe in a creative, artistic genius inside each one of us. 

     Just as a ballerina can sometimes get out of the way of the conscious and let her artistic genius soar or how a concert pianist can some nights have a little something extra that gives everyone chills - it is the unknowing, unseeing creative spirit that when we get out of the way, can take us to levels we never could have planned or imagined..  Sure, the ballerina learned the steps and the pianist learned the notes and anyone can learn to mix a color and put it in a place but it is the gifted artist who gets out of the way of the conscious and trusts that genius muse inside the womb of the soul.  I believe that there is a non-judging, innocent and arrogant fire inside of each one of us that wants to soar.  The trick is getting out of the way and I believe that is the thing that so many people find impossible to do.


    There is a place in Richard Schmid's "May" dvd where he picks up a random brush and looks at the name on the handle and says "Maestro.  Maestro!!!  That's me baby!" and he chuckles and he holds that brush with such grace and waves it like a beautiful conductor and lets his genius soar and places the most glorious color in the perfect place on that canvas- did he plan it? no.  Was it an accident?  hardly


  • I guess it all depends on how you look at it. There are certain ways of painting where an artist gets his results quickly, and then there are more time consuming ways that require plenty of planning in advance and that require many days or weeks of work. You have suggested that genius leaps out from within a person once an artist learns his or her trade and it all becomes second nature. No doubt about it. I'm sure that's what we see in R.Schmid when he's at work. 
    tassieguy
  • wow @dencal - that is really neat - thank you for sharing.  That explains it better than I did.

    dencal
  • SummerSummer -
    edited May 2019
    Just curious.  Has anyone ever seen some wrong intuition unconscious incompetent paintings on DMP?  Maybe I'll try to find some examples on a Google search or YouTube.  Hmm.  Shaking in my boots.   :o   
    dencaledavisonJulianna
  • dencal said:
    Folks



    We are all on this triangle. Schmid lives in the blue section. His experience, skill and knowledge means he can paint without too much thinking or experimenting, he knows what looks right and can achieve it easily.

    Mark provides the right analysis for movement from yellow to green.

    Denis



    All I would add to that is that there is no one right way to paint even in the blue peak, but rather many, some being better than others. 
  • Just saying, that bottom level?  Probably the masterpieces my mother used to put up on the refrigerator door when I said they were done .  Hmm. 
    PaulBJulianna
  • I am hoping if I colour in the triangle starting at the bottom without going over the lines I will make it to the top and be for ever in my blue period.

     :) 
    Bancroft414SummertassieguyJulianna
  • edited May 2019
    @Leo2015, @dencal, @Julianna, @tassieguy, @Kaustav, @Richard_P, and @Summer. Thank you for having this conversation. Two thoughts--First, I really should audit an art history class! I am reminded there is so much about which I am completely unaware! And second, this is a reminder that when someone speaks up in a manner that is controversial or perceived as such -- it's a gift. The ensuing discussion is much richer than it might have been  --had it even happened at all.  
    Juliannatassieguyedavison
  • edited May 2019
    Right on, @Bancroft414. That's another reason I love this forum. People here are able to have intetesting and mature discussions about art and can disagree without any nastiness at all. It's great. Maybe artists are just generally nice people. Most other types of forums I've been on are full of flamers, trolls and cliques and  it's always a cat fight for status. Not here. 
    So, yeah, I agree, it's a gift.  :)
    Leo2015edavison
  • edited May 2019
    "Maybe artists are just generally nice", well at least we should try to be, but when you read about artists in 19th century France, they nearly killed each other because of their differences of opinion! lol! The quarrels about art between Van Gogh and Gauguin are legendary. 
    edavisontassieguyBancroft414
  • edited May 2019
    Yes, those two  did come to mind when I wrote the above, @Leo2015, but I figured they were probably outliers. VVG was a tender soul but quite unstable.  But you gotta love him anyway. :)
    Leo2015Bancroft414
  • edited May 2019
    Yea, I read his letters some years ago and he wasn't the kind of person I expected he would be. He was pretty intelligent, alert, and well read. Too bad his life fell apart. I'm currently reading Pissarro's letters to his son Lucien, and another book with letters from Mary Cassatt and her circle of friends. They certainly lived in exciting times. 
    tassieguyBancroft414
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