Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Knowing Richard Schmid

I am reprinting an article I read on the FineArtViews newsletter! I thought it particularly important for many of my artist friends to understand how we help each other! Enjoy reading and I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave some comments. And .... Visit the FineArtViews newsletter and sign up. You'll thank yourself. It is the best newsletter out there (along with Robert Genn)!
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On Knowing Richard Schmid

by Lori Woodward

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She also writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.

I get more than a few requests from artists - wanting to know how to get an invitation to the Putney Painters. I usually explain what the truth is; I have no power with Richard Schmid or Nancy Guzik. In fact, I'm fortunate to have my own place in this group. I was invited permanently after two years of teaching workshops and classes at Village Arts. In my experience, artists get invited after having been guest artists for 3 or more years. My guess is that Richard will eventually bow out of showing up. It's amazing to me that we meet even if he doesn't attend.

The bad news is that it's a closed group and everyone who has been a guest over the years either knows Richard or Nancy personally or knows one of their closer friends in the group. Many are hopeful there will be a spot for them in the future, but that hope rarely comes to fruition. My guess is that artists see how Richard's fellow painters have gone on to being able to make a living as an artist, get into big-name galleries and show up in magazine articles.

The good news: Richard has never made a single recommendation for any of Putney artists to a gallery, show, or otherwise. He simply has nothing to do with helping us market our work -- so, you're not missing out on a recommendation. But still, you're wondering... why do Richard's group painters so often hit the big time?

Because he teaches us the essentials of making quality representational art. Another fact that is not widely known: These aren't classes, workshops or otherwise. He just invites a few of his friends to paint along with him several times a year. He enjoys the company. We all share the cost of the building, heat, model fees, and food... except that Carol Arnold often bakes a chocolate cake or brownies.

The most enjoyable part of being in the Putney Painters (I call them the PP's), is the long term relationships that I've gained with the other painters. We're truly friends and fellow supporters. Even though Richard doesn't help our career efforts, many times we help each other. I've learned as much from Rosemary Ladd and Kathy Anderson - just by painting by their side.

So... what does this mean for you? It is an example of what can be done when like-minded artists meet to paint together informally. Information about opportunities are shared, there is mutual art instruction, visits to museums, and even painting trips. We PP's do all these things even when Richard and Nancy aren't around. We get together in other cities at shows too. The glue that holds us together is our mutual support and encouragement. We each compete with ourselves, not with each other. When one of us wins an award or gets an article in a magazine, we all celebrate. Jealousy is absent.

There's nothing stopping you from doing the same thing. The best groups have a couple of successful, knowledgible artists who are willing to share their experience with the others. The groups work when all the people who attend are serious about becoming the best they can be. While painting, the PP's are not allowed to talk much. I do have a habit of talking - especially when I paint next to Rosemary (Roladd). Richard will often turn his head toward us, breaking forth with a deep, crisp QUIET! If Kathy Anderson and I start harmonizing to The Boxer, Richard will change the CD.

There is much to be gained from a small group of friends who paint in a similar way. You can meet at a studio regularly - having a model or bringing your own still life set ups. You can plan painting trips. Did you know that a number of plein air painters (some well known) regularly plan several paint outs in beautiful locations? If you all get along well enough, you can name your group and hold your own exhibits.

I believe the wave of the future for artists to learn is by sharing information, and helping each other - for free. That's what Richard does for the few of us and he expects us to carry the torch of information onto the next generation of artists. Some of us who like to teach are doing just that.

Richard isn't the only artist in this world who knows the science behind art and seeing. There are many others. If you can't put your time and money into studying at an Atelier, there are plenty of books to teach you. For example, the best two "classic" books for landscape painting are written by John F. Carlson and Edgar Payne. They're not easy reading and definitely not for the Sunday Painter, but they are cherished by well known landscape painters as the very best learning tools.

So I leave you with this fact. Hanging on a famous artist's coattails will not do anything for your art career because, It's not Who You Know, It's What You Know - and how you put that knowledge to use.


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