Le Cabanon – finished state – adding things to a landscape: Richard Schmid

‘Le Cabanon’
Finished state 2008 – 2009
Large Size Oil on canvas
72 x 54cm (approx 28,5 x 21 inches).
© The Artist.
For those who aren’t familar with wine growing, the blue amongst the vines are posts. The paint is thick & impasto on this medium-sized oil. Here’s the study from a few posts ago :

Le Cabanon’
30 x 40 cm
oil on panel
©the artist

This large sized studio painting arrived at completion, after a necessary dormant phase with it’s back against the studio wall for six months or so. Out of sight, out of mind. Slow paintings, with many revisions. Not alla-prima. Not fast painting. My fresh eyes decided that the cabanon needed a complement, a companion, that it was too bare & too solitary. So I added these two popular trees. They are actually up there on the hill but not so close to the cabanon, being further away arond the corner & out of eye sight. I moved them. I added them. I ‘recomposed’ the landscape.It felt a bit naughty… as if I were not telling the ‘truth’.

Unfinished state – poor photo (bad painting as well;-)

I don’t find it that difficult to substract elements whilst painting alla-prima en plein-air. Most people do this from the start of their career, editing out telegraph poles & street furniture etc. I frequently & consciously add pictural elements such as heightening the colours as needed or putting in an accent brush-stroke here or there as the painting demands. But actually moving the physical, real elements of a landscape around, such as placing a house here where it wasn’t , lifting up & planting a tree here where it wasn’t… recomposing the landscape to make the painting work. Pretty God-like, no?

Richard Schmid has this to say about recomposition :

Q. I have heard someone quote you as saying that you never add anything to a painting that is not in your subject, nor subtract anything. I find it difficult to believe you do not use individual expression in your work. Is that quote really true?
A. No. What I did say was this: When I am painting strictly to learn, I try to capture exactly what I see, neither adding nor subtracting things or changing colors, values, drawing, etc.

But—and this is a big BUT–when I paint to create a work of art (self-expression), ANYTHING goes. I am the creator and I am in charge. I often manipulate my subject freely to produce the image I want.

I also said that Nature is perfect and does not need changing. There can be no doubt about that. However, nature itself is constantly being changed by its own natural forces, and since I am a part of nature I can choose to paint it the way I wish to. Nature couldn’t care less, it will remain perfect.

The bottom line for me is that my result must look absolutely authentic. I want my viewer to accept my picture as real.