Legends of Fine Art | Richard Schmid

Richard Schmid

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Almost from the time he began seriously studying art, Richard Schmid funneled his energy into one approach: alla prima, in which the artist works exclusively from life and completes a painting in a single session. At the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Schmid absorbed the paintings of European and American alla prima masters. Then he took it in his own direction, becoming renowned in particular for his still-life and figurative work. His many honors include the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists and the Gold Medal award from the Portrait Society of America.

Born: Chicago, IL, 1934.
Resides: Walpole, NH.
Proudest accomplishment: Staying honest over the years about my art and painting what drives me, rather than what drives the market.
What would you have done differently in your life? If even the tiniest thing had been different, I wouldn’t have reached the point where I’m at now, so I wouldn’t have done anything differently.


Advice to young artists: Besides getting the best classical training possible, never compromise. And never listen to the critics!
Motto you have lived by over the years: Do it right. That means don’t cut corners. It’s the motto of professionalism.
Biggest misconception about an artist’s life: That talent is inherited or God given, that you either have it or you don’t. I was talking to a genetic biologist and half-jokingly asked if they’d found the talent gene yet. He said no, not yet, but if they ever do, they’ll find out that it’s just one small ingredient in a very complicated recipe.
How has your work changed since starting out? It’s gotten more enjoyable because I’m more skilled. Things that at one time might have been a struggle now come as easily as drawing a breath.
How has the art market changed? It’s grown exponentially to a gigantic corporate business that now has very little to do with art itself.
Other interests: I play chess. I’m a lifelong student of sociology, history, and philosophy. And I’m spending more time teaching—mainly through books and instructional DVDs.
Recent news: I’m greatly enlarging the number of offset lithographs of my work. We’re also putting out three large coffee-table books. The first one, of landscapes, should be out a year from now, and the other two will be on my still-life and figurative work.

He is represented by West Wind Fine Art, Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Featured in December 2008 in “Legends of Fine Art” feature article