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Richard Schmid

 (born 1934)
Richard Schmid is active/lives in Colorado, Vermont, Illinois.  Richard Schmid is known for figure-female, landscape, portrait.

Richard Schmid

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Richard Schmid
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Richard Schmid became one of the foremost Impressionist painters of the Southwest in the late 20th century. He is known for what he calls "The Grand Manner," a certain mingling of virtuosity and unrestrained joy in art.

He began drawing at an early age. At age twelve, he enrolled in the Famous Artists Course and later studied landscape painting with a friend of his father. After high school, he attended the American Academy of Art and sold portraits, landscapes, and city scenes on the streets of Chicago. An admirer of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, he planned to become a book illustrator, but an Academy Instructor, William Mosby, redirected him to studying the Old Masters, and from that time Schmid credited him with the direction of his career which was devoted to "alla prima" painting, that is finishing a painting in one session.

After service in the Army, he lived in Manhattan and then Chicago where he taught at the Academy. He then moved to Fort Collins, Colorado and later to Manchester, Vermont.

He became widely represented including at The Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Colorado Historical Society, and the National Academy of Design.

Southwest Art
Art of the West
Text of the following feature about Richard Schmid is submitted by the author, Bryan Kopta: The writing was published, July 2003 in PERSIMMON HILL.

By: Bryan Kopta

For over four decades, Richard Schmid has cultivated and refined a master's touch in oil painting. His paintings have been exhibited in a host of distinguished institutions, including The Thomas Gilcrease Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, The Beijing Exhibition Center in China, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Smithsonian Institute. With over 50 one-man shows to his credit, and having won virtually every major art award in the United States, including the American Watercolor Gold Medal and the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2000 from the American Society of Portrait Artist Foundation, he is widely considered the preeminent American painter.

Many artists exhibiting at the Prix de West consider Schmid their mentor. Schmid began "making pictures" in grade school. "Originally, I wanted to be an illustrator. I did not know there was such a thing as fine art when I was much younger until I went to art school. Then I found the world of fine art." After beginning his formal training as a teenager, Schmid knew where he was headed. And two years into his studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, he began selling his paintings at street and sidewalk shows.

"The first painting I sold, I think it was a street scene in Chicago. And I was about 17 years old. My father was kind of proud of my artwork, but he was very suspicious of me wanting to do it professionally, or as a lifetime thing. And one day he brought me to his boss's officewith the painting. And the boss took one look at it and bought it right in front of my father. My father almost died. He couldn't believe it. It made him a believer in me ever since. I can remember driving home, and he said, 'How many of those can you do in a week?' He just couldn't believe that anybody would buy a painting."

"The second painting I ever sold, was the first time I was on a sidewalk show. And a guy came up, and looked at my paintingI was still hanging the paintings on my rack out thereand he looked at it, and he said, 'Will you take seventy-five dollars for this landscape painting?' It was a painting of the waterfront of Chicago, the big Buckingham Fountain. And I was so excited; I kicked a hole in it. (I dropped it, and tried to catch it with my foot.) The man was so nice that he looked at the paintingthe hole wasn't very big. He said, 'Can you fix it by tomorrow?' And I said, 'You bet I can.' So I did."

But for Schmid, parting with his art isn't as easy as it once was. "When I was younger I did not feel any kind of loss because I was always thinking of the next painting I would do. And of course when you're young, you think you have all the time in the world too. But as I grewas I maturedpast 50 or so, I began to put so much more into my art, that my own paintings became so much more meaningful to me. And it was very hard to part with certain paintings."

Although Schmid does not, by any means, consider himself to be an Impressionist painter, he relied on Impressionistic techniques more heavily in his early career. "I don't think of myself as an Impressionist, although I use Impressionism all the time. I don't think it stands out as the characteristic technique, at least not in the past 25 years or so. I painted rather quickly then. I painted large paintings out of doors, usually completing them in, say, about 3 hours or so."

Through the years, however, Schmid has become more meticulous. "I try to push paint as far I can possibly push it. I emphasize every aspect of the techniques that are available to me. And I use some of them more so in one painting than another, depending on what's required for my subject." But when it comes to his own personal painting technique, Schmid is in no hurry to categorize. "No, I would just say that if there's a technique, it would be excellence."

In choosing a scene to paint, Schmid takes a deliberate approach. "I don't go out searching for a landscape to do a landscape painting. When I do a landscape, it's because I have seen something in the landscape as being a possible painting, and I go straight to it."

At the outset of painting a landscape, "I usually do a quick lock-in to get my major areas laid in. Then I go straight for the focal point that I want, the point in the painting that I want to be the most interesting. Then I put that in, and work outward from that."

"Portraits are always more challenging because you can't take as many liberties with a portrait. A portrait has to look like the person, or it's not a portrait. And so, the concentration on precise drawing is all-important. The hardest part of painting is drawing and getting things the right shape, the right size in relation to one another. In a landscape, there's so much more latitude. You can get away with murder in a landscape. But [in a portrait] you can't make a woman's nose too big."

The element that Schmid loves most about his work presents itself only when the result on the canvas matches, brushstroke for brushstroke, the painting in his head. "I wouldn't do it unless I loved doing it and it was satisfying. I love it when I achieve what I set out to do. I like to do a painting in one sitting, and I like a feeling of performance, where it is an uninterrupted application of paint without any sense of doubt about what I'm doingand watching this thing, watching it unfold the way you'd listen to a piece of music. And that happens sometimes, especially when I'm doing portraits, really concentrating. So that's what I like."

Despite his longevity, his vast array of works, and the many accolades bestowed upon him, Richard Schmid remains as eager to paint as the day he began. "To me, I'm living in giant painting. So it's not really a matter of choice. I have so many to paint; I guess the choice is which one to do first."

The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio will host Richard Schmid: A Retrospective, an Exhibition to include 66 of Mr. Schmid's original works dating from 1962 to 2002. The Retrospective opens on September 7, and continues through October 19, 2003.

Biography from West Wind Fine Art Gallery
Biography photo for Richard Schmid
Richard Schmid (b.1934)

At the apex of his long and distinguished career during which he has achieved the honor of winning nearly every major art award in the United States, including the Medal of Honor from the prestigious Salmagundi Club of New York City, the $100,000 National Arts for the Parks award, and the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement-Richard Schmid still experiences every new painting as a process of discovery. 

Says Schmid, "I seek what I love about a subject and try to convey it honestly. As I have grown as an artist, I have found I have the capacity to see more. The more I see, the more I find to paint, and the more I wish to convey on canvas. It's an unstoppable sequence. "And that's the adventure."

Born in Chicago in 1934, Schmid was fortunate to have a series of teachers who taught him classical techniques, in what is known as "The Grand Manner."  At age 12, he began his studies in landscape painting, figure drawing, and anatomy. Later, he attended Chicago's American Academy of Art where he was greatly influenced by teacher William H. Mosby.  Mosby, a graduate of the Belgian Royal Academy in Brussels and the Superior Institute in Antwerp, was a technical expert on European and American realism. Studies with him involved working exclusively from life, at first using the conceptual and technical methods of the Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish masters, and eventually all of the late 19th century European and American painters. The emphasis in each period was on Alla Prima, or Direct Painting systems of the various periods. In 1998, Schmid published a book by the same name, Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting," which has received international acclaim and is currently in its tenth printing. 

Throughout the second-half of the Twentieth Century when representational art was out of vogue, Schmid kept alive the knowledge he received from Mosby and from Mosby's circle of luminaries that included Sargent, Monet, and Degas.  A gifted teacher himself, Schmid has generously shared this knowledge through his books and through his mentoring of young artists.
Today, he believes we're entering a new Golden Age of representational art.

Explains Schmid, "It's been like watching a rocket launch.  At first the rocket appears to be going slowly, but quickly it picks up speed and takes off.  "Over the last few decades, I'm noticing more and more young people appearing on the art scene with amazing skills and hungry for what Alla Prima offers - everything they didn't learn in art school.  Most art schools offer predominately modern art.  They discourage anything that might inhibit the spontaneous act, such as prior knowledge of traditional methods."

As we enter this new Golden Age at the birth of this new century, Schmid's achievements have continued to grow. In 2000, when he received the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement, the presentation was made by Richard Ormond, Sargent's grandnephew during a special awards ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  In 2005, he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art in Old Lyme, CT. And in 2009, West Wind Fine Art, which has represented Richard Schmid's paintings since 1998, curated an historic exhibition RICHARD SCHMID & HIS INFLUENCE at the Salmagundi Club in New York City with paintings by Schmid and a selection of recognized artists who he has mentored, including his wife, Nancy Guzik.  Also featured at the show were Timothy R. Thies, Daniel Gerhartz, Rose Frantzen, Scott Burdick, Susan Lyon, Paul Mullally, Clayton Beck III, Molly Schmid, Gretchen Schmid, Judy Stach, and Casey Baugh.

Then, in 2009, Schmid wrote and published The Landscapes, featuring over 300 of his images spanning 50 years of painting directly from nature.  Schmid is also working on a revised and expanded edition of Alla Prima and has several other books in the developmental stages.

At the conclusion of Alla Prima Schmid writes, "Somewhere within all of us there is a wordless center, a part of us that hopes to be immortal in some way, a part that has remained unchanged since we were children, the source of our strength and compassion.

"This faint confluence of the tangible and the spiritual is where Art comes from.  It has no limits, and once you tap into it you will realize what truly rich choices you have.

"May each painting you do from that sacred place include an expression of gratitude for the extraordinary privilege of being an artist."

As we enter this new Golden Age, it is art lovers worldwide who are expressing gratitude to Richard Schmid - for the generous sharing of his accumulated wisdom and for the extraordinary privilege of witnessing his artistic vision.

By Sheryll Reichwein
©West Wind Fine Art, LLC 2010

Selected Exhibitions:
Richard Schmid: A Retrospective, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Richard Schmid & His Influence Exhibition, curated by Kristen Thies of West Wind Fine Art
 and held at NY City's prestigious Salmagundi Club.
American Masters Exhibitions, Salmagundi Club, NY, NY
The Richard Schmid Art Auction, Stove Prairie, CO
The Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, Hartford, CT
The National Academy of Design, NY, NY
Beijing Exhibition Center, Peoples Republic of China, Beijing, China
The American Watercolor Society, NY, NY
The Thomas Gilcrease Museum of American Art, Tulsa, OK
The Frye Museum, Seattle, WA
The Colorado Historical Society, Denver, CO
Project Hope Exhibitions, Williamsport, PA
The Holter Museum, Helena, MT
The Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago, IL
The Loveland Museum, Loveland, CO
The Bennington Center for the Arts, Bennington, VT
The Harvard Club of Boston, Boston, MA

Kristen Thies, CEO and Co-Founder of West Wind Fine Art represents Richard Schmid's paintings.

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers VI
Biography photo for Richard Schmid
Richard Schmid was born in Chicago, Illinois. His earliest interest in art came from the influence of his grandfather, Julian Oates, an architectural sculptor. Schmid began his art training at age twelve in the Famous Artists Course, with initial studies in landscape painting, figure drawing and anatomy. He continued studying until he was eighteen, when he became a student of classical techniques under William H. Mosby at the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

By this time, Schmid was already selling portraits, landscapes and city scenes on the streets of Chicago. He then served in the military, afterward moving to New York in 1958, where he continued to paint. Three years later, Schmid and his wife, Jan, moved to Connecticut to raise their family. After a brief stay in Florida, Schmid, now divorced, returned to Chicago and joined the Palette and Chisel Academy. He began teaching at the academy, and soon became its president. In 1990, Schmid moved to Colorado, painting and writing.

He began writing about painting in 1970, and produced two best-selling books in their field. His third book, entitled "Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting," come out in the late 1990's. Schmid has become involved in art education through his books and articles on painting and by conducting a series of lectures/demonstrations in the United States.

A consummate painter, Schmid traveled and painted extensively throughout the United States, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe. He tries to pass on his philosophy on art through his works, whether written, spoken or painted. "I once asked an audience of university art students what they thought was important when they were painting: making money, showing off, the pleasure of painting? Or do you paint because you want to change a person's mind? Are you making a pitch for beauty or brotherhood, or is painting something you do so you can get close to something more spiritual? I believe there is a certain responsibility that goes along with being born with talent."

Reference:, "Art of the West" Nov/Dec 1997

Biography from Nichols Taos Fine Art Gallery
Richard Schmid was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1934. His earliest artistic influence came from his maternal grandfather, Julian Oates, an architectural sculptor. Schmid's initial studies in landscape painting, figure drawing, and anatomy began at the age of twelve and continued into classical techniques under William H. Mosby at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Mosby, a graduate of the Belgian Royal Academy in Brussels and the Superior Institute in Antwerp, was a technical expert on European and American realism. Studies with him involved working exclusively from life, at first using the conceptual and technical methods of the Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish masters, and eventually all of the the late 19th century European and American painters. The emphasis in each period was on Alla Prima, or Direct Painting systems of the various periods.

However, Richard's individual style and the content of his work developed along personal lines. At ceremonies hosted by the American Society of Portrait Artists in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2000, Richard Schmid received the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Richard Ormond, Sargent's grandnephew, presented the award. Throughout his career, Richard Schmid has promoted art education through his books, articles, workshops, seminars, and television presentations. He travels widely in the Western Hemisphere for his subjects, and currently lives in Vermont with his wife, the painter Nancy Guzik.

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Biography photo for Richard Schmid
Self-Portrait with Doll (Nancy)

About  Richard Schmid

Born:  1934 - Chicago, Illinois
Known for:  figure-female, landscape, portrait

Essays referring to
Richard Schmid

Painters of Nudes