Beauty Lives On: A Tribute to Richard Schmid

Beauty Lives On: A Tribute to Richard Schmid

with 12 Comments

You may have heard that renowned American artist Richard Schmid passed away last weekend. The art world has lost a true master of painting and a generous man. I imagine that thousands of today’s professional painters would list Schmid as an influence in their development. He certainly influenced me. I’d like to give him credit here and honor his lifelong commitment to making the world a more beautiful place. 

Baranof Falls, 24x48, by Richard Schmid
Baranof Falls, 24×48, by Richard Schmid

I first learned about Schmid in 1996 or so from one of my college painting instructors. My classmates and I were in awe of the virtuosity he displayed in his work. As time went by, I enjoyed crossing paths with him in person at a couple of different art events. I didn’t get to know him well, but his book ALLA PRIMA: Everything I Know About Painting feels like a trusted friend when I flip through its pages. (It was recently updated and expanded into ALLA PRIMA II.)

Figure painting by Richard Schmid
Figure painting by Richard Schmid

I bought a signed copy of ALLA PRIMA when it was first published in 1998. Schmid’s ideas had a great impact on me in my early artistic development. He clearly shared his insights into the fundamentals of painting, and they were the perfect springboard for me as I built upon what I had learned in college. I used the palette colors he recommended, made color charts that he described, tried techniques he demonstrated. The knowledge he shared also helped shape the information I use in my own teaching. 

Apache Trail, 18x24, by Richard Schmid
Apache Trail, 18×24, by Richard Schmid

Schmid emphasized truth, solid working habits and an ongoing pursuit of beauty. He dedicated his entire adult life to understanding painting and how it relates to all facets of life. He published several books, produced instructional videos, held workshops and gave seminars. I hope he realized how helpful he was to so many aspiring artists like me.

Still Life by Richard Schmid
Still Life by Richard Schmid

Beauty Lives On

Hopefully you agree that Schmid’s paintings speak for themselves. But he was also gifted at communicating with his writing. Here are two beautiful quotes of his from the end of ALLA PRIMA. Perhaps they will give you a sense of who he was, and give you a glimpse of the heart he had for encouraging painters pursuing their dream. I think he would want us to remember that even though our time is short, beauty lives on.

Kewaskum Snowfall, 9x18, by Richard Schmid
Kewaskum Snowfall, 9×18, by Richard Schmid

“Even though you share countless similarities with others, you are unique. No one has your mind or your feelings. They do not notice what you notice, and do not have precisely the same sensitivities or fears. No one has the same idea of God as you. No one longs to embrace life or ponders death and beyond as you do. No one is human in the same exact way as you are. Once you understand this, your task is to get in touch with yourself. Find out what moves you, what you believe in, what you truly understand about life, who you are, and what this great experience of being alive means to you. Then put it in your paintings.” 

“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 known 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.” 

Richard Schmid in his studio
Richard Schmid in his studio

In honor of Richard Schmid, 1934–2021.

12 Responses

  1. Shere Chamness
    | Reply

    Thank you for your heartfelt memories of a truly beautiful soul. Richard Schmid taught artists to paint the effects of light. And yet, Richard himself was the embodiment of light: he illuminated the world. And he continues to illuminate.

  2. Clay Enoch
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    Thank you for the tribute. It is meaningful and I relate to the gratitude I have for similar masters from which I have learned so much. Great encouraging quotes and beautiful examples of his work. I only had a passing familiarity with Schmid, but I knew you and other painters greatly admired him. Now I clearly see why.

  3. Ian James
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    Thanks for this tribute Dan. His beautiful open brushstrokes bear witness to his own clarity and purpose as an artist. From the quotes, I’m sure he would have been someone I’d have loved to meet, and learn from.

  4. Hedy Buzan
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    What a lovely tribute to Richard Schmid.

    I stumbled upon his book ALLA PRIMA a few years ago. I am an abstract artist, but I found his beautifully written and illustrated book an inspiration. His emphasis on building art skills, exploration, honesty, inspiration, curiosity and respect for the mystery of art making to be truly inspirational.

    The two quotes you included were awesome and I will print and post them in the studio. Thank you.

  5. Yolande McAlevey
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    Wonderful tribute Dan🎨. A couple years ago you mentioned his book to me and since then, I have studied his work and am thankful for his tremendous talent and contribution to the art world!

  6. Sandy Fisher
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    I love my copy of Alla Prima and the wisdom of Richard. I never had the joy of meeting him in person, but if I did I would have been thrilled beyond measure. Thank you for sharing these wonderful thoughts about him. That first quote truly resonates with me.

  7. Lynn Davis-Smith
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    That’s a lovely tribute, Dan. I have both of his books and find that I come back to them often. I, too, started with his color charts and palette colors when I started oil painting. He was a gift.

  8. Gayle Martin
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    Thank you, Dan. I have both Alla Prima books and refer to them often. Those words of his you just provided are so true and inspirational.

  9. Colleen Veneri
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    Thank you for this tribute, Dan. I didn’t know that he passed until I read your posting. I have admired his work and writings but never had the fortune to meet him. You captured his essence with your quotes. RIP to the master!

  10. Marsha Gilliam
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    Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute, Dan. He was always one of my favorite people and artists, so patient and kind, and when I asked him to autograph his book for me via USPO, he graciously did so. I treasured it (even more so now), read it from cover to cover while taking notes, and secured it back in its original box so that it would remain pristine. Every time I look through it, I wonder at his seemingly “effortless” brushstrokes–his paintings make me happy. In sorrow, we celebrate the gifts he has left us. The world has lost a gentle giant.

  11. Luis Lopez
    | Reply

    Dear Dan, Thanks for sharing the news on the great loss for the world of the art. I aquired a book of Mr. R. Schmid thanks to a chat I had with you a while ago in your Ojai Studio, I moved back to Mexico and I brought it with me. Since I opened it the first time, it has been a great help and even greater inspiration on my path of learning de art of painting.

  12. Ghenadie
    | Reply

    His book ALLA PRIMA: “Everything I Know About Painting” is one of the best tutorial book for my students. This book should be in all art institutions.

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