Thursday, July 7, 2016

South LA artist Brian Schmidt shares favorite pasttimes in his work

When south Louisiana artist Brian Schmidt paints, he captures landscapes and scenes of the natural world around him in St. Tammany Parish. Water sports on the Bogue Chitto and Tangipahoa Rivers, cattle in lush pastures and idyllic scenes on the Gulf of Mexico come to life through his oil paintings. Whether painting indoors from a photo or en plein air as he views the scene, Schmidt focuses on sharing the things he loves with his viewers.

He sometimes feels like quitting painting but eventually chuckles about some of the problems he must overcome in his work, such as fighting to get the right amount of detail in the various layers of trees in a Smoky Mountains scene.

“I got the background mountains to look good…the haze, you know. Then I was trying to paint the middle foreground…with the trees… more distinct,” he says, but not as detailed as closer trees. He struggled for four hours before wiping the offending trees from the canvas. 

“I’m still going to try it,” he laughs, promising to go back to the project after a rest time.

Schmidt prefers oil paints because of the longer drying time. Since he works outdoors most often, the oils give him more flexibility to change his work before they dry.

His landscapes reflect the world he enjoys such as the south Louisiana rivers where he canoes. He believes his love for the sprawling art form stems from his early love of Western art with its sweeping scenes of mountains and prairies. As he learned more, the Impressionists drew him with their landscapes.

“I like larger things where you can gather in more for the picture,” he adds. On the rivers, he finds inspiration in the clay banks and the sandy beaches juxtaposed against the water, his favorite subject. Schmidt takes on challenges like a farm scene with cows scattered in the pasture. Working on those cows gave him pause, since the scale of the finished creatures was so small in relation to the original size of the animals.

A longtime lover of art, he began creating his own in the late 1990s. He began by copying some of his favorite artists to learn their techniques. His models included paintings by Remington, Van Gogh and Monet.

“After copying all these things, you think you’ve got the style down, but you don’t,” he notes. Once he went out into the world to paint his own subjects, he struggled with keeping the techniques as he moved on to his own original art. He acknowledges that some of his early attempts were disasters.

“Then I realized…there was something special about those guys. It was in their minds. So I try to paint what I see but not everything photo realistic.” His own style encompasses elements of Impressionism with the power of the western artists.

He’s lived on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain, between Covington and Folsom, LA, for more than twenty years and enjoys sharing the beauty of the area with those seeing his art.
“They represent things that I like, the rivers…canoes…the North Shore things,” he says and he shares his love with fortunate enough to see his paintings.

Several of his works hang in Slidell at Artists’ Galleries de Juneau in Olde Towne Slidell, LA. Many of his paintings are spoken for before reaching a gallery. He sometimes works on commission based on a photograph or a visit to a scene.

Originally appeared 08/01/2015 at

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