Richard Schmid 1934-2021

Richard Schmid
Richard Schmid

I was saddened to learn of the death on Sunday of American artist Richard Schmid, one of the finest and most influential realist artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

His paintings are veritable textbooks of color and value relationships, texture, brush handling, and the subtle power of edges in painting. Schmid was not only a formidable painter, but a hugely influential teacher; you can see his influence in the work of his students, their students and even those who have just known his work from afar.

Fortunately, Schmid has left a legacy of teaching materials — treasure troves of painting knowledge that are available to the rest of us. His book Alla Prima II: Everything I know About Painting – and More is the single best book on the art of painting of which I am aware. I learn something new every time I go through it. I have also found his instructional videos — particularly those on landscape painting — of great value. (Most outstanding for me is the second in his landscape series: June.)

If you are not well acquainted with his work, the official Richard Schmid website is a great place to start. You will find examples of his work not only in the Portfolio, but in the sections on Available Art, Lithographs and Books and Videos. (In the Books section, on the pages for the individual titles, look below the image of the cover for the “Preview This Item” tab.)

Unfortunately, the official website pulls up short of showing his work to best advantage in large images. For that, you may need to use a Bing or Google image search, with the parameters set to “Large” or “Extra Large” (see my recent article on image search). In this way you can view larger images of his work that have been reproduced by auction houses.

As much as I admire Schmid’s work as a portraitist and still life painter, it is his landscapes that have long captured my attention. Subtle, atmospheric and evocative, his landscapes are masterful examples of the power of suggestion in painting, convincing your eye that there is more there than is actually delineated. The published collection, The Landscapes is a visual treat, beautifully printed and at a marvelously large size (see my review here).

I haven’t yet gotten a copy of the new still life book, but I can’t imagine it is anything less than superb.

In all cases, I strongly recommend purchasing his books and videos direct from the official website. Not only will the proceeds go more directly to his family, but the materials are actually less expensive there than through third party sites like Amazon.