A Painter’s Bible

Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid

I received this book as a gift at Christmas, and I’m currently on my second reading of it. It was recommended by my instructor, Karol Mack, at an oil painting workshop I attended last summer. Karol named this as the be-all and end-all of books on the subject of painting. And I can totally see why.

This book covers everything in detail from the many ways to start a painting (and Schmid’s preferred method), to the subjective nature of color, and everything else in between. And the best part is, for every point Mr. Schmid makes, he explains the WHY. Many things learned in school, in books or from other artists are accepted as truth without a proper explanation. I myself am always asking, wondering, pondering “why?” Why are accurate drawing skills so important? Why do some paintings work, and others do not? Why should I paint at all? Why does anyone? Mr. Schmid offers his theories and they are compelling and inspiring.


Then once he goes through all the best lessons he has learned on the technical aspects of painting and creating, Schmid deals with the less tangible lessons, and much of this revolves around knowing one’s own self. This is a particularly valuable, validating lesson for me.

“Have a warm respect for your art and cherish your affection for it. Never demean your efforts because you think you’re not in a class with Rembrandt. Paint the things you passionately respond to, and use any means necessary to make your work come out the way you intend. (That’s what Rembrandt did.)”

“Even though you share countless similarities with others, you are unique. No one has your mind or your feelings. They do not notice what you notice, and do not have precisely the same sensitivities or fears. No one has the same idea of God as you. No one longs to embrace life or ponders death and beyond as you do. No one is human in the exact same way as you are. Once you understand this, your task is to get in touch with yourself. Find out what moves you, what you believe in, what you truly understand about life, who you are, and what this great experience of being alive means to you. Then put it in your paintings.”

“Somewhere within all of us there is a wordless center, a part of us that hopes to be immortal in some way, a part that has remained unchanged since we were children, the source of our strength and compassion. This faint confluence of the tangible and the spiritual is where Art comes from. ”

Lessons invaluable to any creative, regardless of your medium or your career in the arts.

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Posted by admin on 05/08/07 under artists,books,technique
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