Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Richard Schmid

I have heard Richard Schmid referred to as "The John Singer Sargent of our time". Here is another artist that I was surpised to be unfamiliar with until about a year ago, especially since looking at Schmid's work has helped guide me (at least mentally) to a greater understanding of what I want to accomplish with my own art. If you are familiar with Schmid's work, it might surprise you that I choose this piece to look at today. But something about this duck intrigued me (I know, goose, swan, whatever). It is listed on his site as conte on gesso. So this appears to be a gesso primed panel with brush stroke textures brushed onto the surface before it dried. That was not so much the intriguing part as "This is conte???" I have used conte before. Never have I been able to create something that looks like brush strokes with conte. I wanted to get back to looking at work and the brush strokes that created it and when I saw this, I was a bit dumb founded. If I was a betting man, I would have put ten bucks down that this was an underpainting in burnt sienna based on the brushwork. I would have had to skip those two cups of coffee at Starbucks if I made that bet. Conte? Really? I must be doing something wrong. Look at all the strokes in the grassy area, some bold, some transparent, some wiped out. The wing edges appear blurred or softened down in spots to indicate that movement I discussed the other day. Conte? Maybe it is that texture of the board that I dismissed earlier as being less than intriguing. Maybe I was wrong. I know that I have done some conte work on canson mi-tienes paper and the texture of that paper lent itself to creating some interesting wall effects, almost like brick or concrete. Could the this combination of surface and media actually be creating a brush work look that I am struggling to pin down in my oil work? Dominick Saponaro talked to me about having his digital work look like his oil work and vice versa due to him using similar techniques when using both. I think this may be the case here as well. Since this is the look that I strive for in my oil painting, I think when I whip out my conte for next week's life drawing session, it may be an interesting night.


  1. I wonder Mark, if he put down the conte and then used turpenoid or some other solvent with a brush to create the strokes? I've used solvents with both charcoal and colored pencil and the effects are very painterly. Just a thought.

  2. I am unfamiliar with using conte that way, but I think it will go on my list of things to try.

  3. If it's anything like the way he uses charcoal, He mixes water into the conte powder and uses a brush to push it around. Scott Burdick uses a similar technique.(for example, this beauty: