Richard Schmid: The Landscapes

Richard Schmid: The Landscapes
Richard Schmid is a well known painter, author and teacher, who is highly regarded among other artists and whose signature style is often emulated by his students.

I first mentioned Schmid on Lines and Colors back in 2008. In that article, I focused largely on his demo videos and his excellent instructional book, Alla Prima.

Those who are primarily familiar with Schmid’s work in print from early editions of that book will find The Landscapes — a collection of his paintings published in 2010 — a revelation (and likewise the newer edition of Alla Prima II).

The Landscapes is wonderfully large (11×14″, 28x36cm) and sumptuously produced, with much attention given to the color production in an attempt to do justice to the artist’s work.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the presentation of the book on the Richard Schmid website. There is a preview, accessed from a “Preview this Item” tab under the image of the cover, but (almost as nonsensically as Amazon previews) it includes atypical pages and front matter totally irrelevant to why you might want to purchase the book — which is, of course, for the artist’s beautiful paintings. Some 300 images are included in this volume, a bit more than half of which are full plates of the works.

There are also a few landscape images in the Archive Gallery on the website, a couple of which are included in the book. It’s still not much of a clue as to the real nature of the book.

I’ve taken the liberty of trying to photograph a few, somewhat more representative, examples of images from the book to show you here, but I can’t claim my photographs are accurate reproductions of the color or image quality in the book itself, and of course, they’re still very limited in size.

Suffice it to say, if you like Richard Schmid’s work, but have not seen this book, you are likely to want it if you see it. If you’re not familiar with Schmid’s work, it’s certainly worth investigating.

I find Schmid particularly fascinating for his mastery of edges and values. His work is a textbook lesson in how to control the viewer’s attention — what to include and what to simply suggest. Schmid uses deft control of color, contrast and texture to evoke mood and atmosphere, imbuing his work with a kind of whispered poetry. Elements in his compositions subtly emerge from their settings as if slowly revealed by contemplation.

Those qualities come through in The Landscapes in a way that invites you to linger over every image, and go back through it repeatedly. It’s a beautiful presentation of work by one of our best contemporary landscape painters. I’m remiss in not having reviewed it before now.

I hope to follow up soon with a review of the newly revised edition of Schmid’s classic instructional book, Alla Prima II, which I recommend highly. I can also recommend his instructional videos, notably the series of four seasonal landscapes, among which I think June the best place to start

Note: if you look for Schmid’s books and videos on Amazon or other online sellers, you will find them artificially overpriced and often presented as if out of print. You should purchase them directly from the Richard Schmid website.


5 Replies to “Richard Schmid: The Landscapes

  1. Dear Charley,
    I have been a daily visitor to your excellent website since I discovered it around 2009. With regards to this post about the book “The Landscapes” by R Schmid, I read when it was firts published that the reproduction of the paintings was not good. This fact (and the high price) has discouraged me from buying it. You have handled the book, what is your opinion about the printing quality?

  2. I think the printing and color are good. If I have any reservations, they’re related to some of the source photographs.

    There are a number of images in which the focus of the original photograph is not good (though it’s not always easy to tell because of Schmid’s frequent use of soft edges), but I found the color reproduction to be pleasing (if perhaps a bit over saturated). I phrase it that way because I have not seen originals to compare for fidelity, but I find the color both vibrant and subtle, which makes the book a pleasure for me, as well as instructive.

    I’m basically so pleased to have a large monograph of his landscapes that I’m willing to forgive the inclusion of less than optimal photographs for which, presumably, better versions are not available. None of them are as egregious as (for example) the terrible photos of some of David Leffel’s paintings included in Oil Painting Secrets from a Master, which were genuinely blurry.

    Someone who has seen a number of Schmid’s originals would be in a better position to report on the accuracy of the color reproduction. It’s difficult because the book isn’t readily available for perusal in bookstores. I encountered it as a coffee table book in a gallery, and subsequently ordered it. As someone who admires Schmid’s landscapes in particular, and finds them worthy of study, I had no qualms about spending the money.

    The only real alternatives are his videos, and the similar, if somewhat smaller, images in the new edition of Alla Prima II.

  3. His books should be on every artists’ wish list or in their possession. I’ve enjoyed all the books as a novice painter; his DVDs are outstanding. The Companion book is now my text book. It is so beautiful, I hesitate to use a highlighter, but now that I am on the 3rd reading, I am highlighting and making notes in the margin. I first ordered softback but sold them and rebought hard binding as it is so much easier to control while reading and so worth the extra $$. If I were an art teacher, The Companion would be my textbook of choice! He and Katie Swatland are just tops in ‘my book’!

    Everyone needs these books and DVDs, not to sit pretty on a coffee table but worn out and sitting on a coffee table!

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