Party of Five © 2014 Karen Mathison Schmidt, artist
6 x 6 inches • oil on GessobordTM
private collection • Seminole, Florida
After doing some work on a larger daffodil painting this morning, I did this one this afternoon, based on a portion of the larger painting, with a little rearrangement.
For the past three weeks I’ve been studying the paintings of contemporary master American artist Richard Schmid, and his alla prima (which essentially means “at first attempt”) method of painting, in which the goal is to finish the top layers before the first layers are dry. These paintings are usually completed in one or two sessions. And that means quickly capturing the essence of the scene and the details of the focal point, then quickly filling in the rest, so the non-essential elements are less finished, and sometimes left out altogether. I’m using these small paintings as little alla prima workouts, training myself to make quicker decisions about color and about what details are necessary to get the effect I want in the finished painting. (These are not technically alla prima, since I do let the vivid acrylic underpainting dry before starting with the oils. But I am trying to do them in one sitting!)
When I got to the end of today’s practice session, I felt like I had been holding my breath the whole time, and when I finished my signature I finally let it out. Whew!
I can hardly wait to get back to the larger painting in the morning, and apply some of what I learned this afternoon in my alla prima workout.
Meanwhile, here are some of my favorites of Richard Schmid’s paintings:
Captain John’s House
Nancy in Scotland
News and Tea
Glen Croe Farmhouse
I find it very appealing that Mr. Schmid painted a cat.
A cat named Zorro. Very cool.