That’s what I keep thinking as I delve into Richard Schmid’s history—of both his art and his goal to see his work make it out there decades ago when figuration was spurned by the art world and skillful representation and traditional use of the oil painting medium were practically lost arts—that he is as intrepid and stubborn as those trailblazers and scouts of centuries ago.
|A young Richard Schmid in his studio.|
Now to many of us Schmid is just about a household name, a familiar and respected contemporary artist and painting instructor. But he definitely received his fair share of hard knocks along the way. An artist with considerable skill, Schmid came into the heart of his career during a time when figurative realism was decidedly out of fashion. He struggled with such biases throughout most of his career, and because of these prejudices there came a time when Schmid wanted nothing more than to help other artists who might be facing the same circumstances he dealt with himself. Schmid’s book Alla Prima is the result of that wish; it was more than 30 years in the making and before it was self-published by the artist it was rejected by every major publishing house in the country.
I put myself in Schmid’s shoes during those moments, thinking of how bogged down I would have felt by the rejection, hopeless and weary. But instead of giving into the urge to give up, Schmid started his own publishing house, Stove Prairie Press. He learned from the ground up everything it would take to see his manifesto on the printed page so that artists and students, appreciators and collectors could see what he had to show for all his years of artistry.
At last count, Alla Prima has gone through 13 printings, and the publishing house that Schmid began is firing up for expanded projects and further editions including Alla Prima II, a sequel to the original that is available now. How this all came to be is a testament to Schmid’s vision and perseverance.
|After his manuscript was rejected by every major publishing house in the country,
Richard Schmid started his own publishing business and self-published his book,
Alla Prima, now in its 13 printing.
Schmid maintains that talent will fail unless you put relentless hard work behind your skills. And if you are lucky you will have the support of those around you and a bone-deep fascination with what you are doing that will keep you going when all else seems to fall away. If that isn’t the makeup of an explorer, I don’t know what is. So it seems that both explorers and artists plot their own courses and reckon with what can often seem insurmountable obstacles along the way to achieving their goals of discovery and adventure.
What does Schmid's journey evoke in you? What challenges have you encountered in your work or with your art and how have you met them? And has Schmid and Alla Prima helped you on your way? Leave a comment and let me know!