Longtime Santa Barbara artist Richard Schloss writes his first book
Richard Schloss has been painting in Santa Barbara for 50 years.
Now he’s completed another creative endeavor — one 20 years in the making.
Mr. Schloss has released his first book, “Painting in the Light.” Mr. Schloss’s book is a treatise on the way people perceive light and atmosphere and how he has painted it.
The unique thing about his book is that it is a scientific analysis from an artist’s perspective. It is more aesthetic than technical. His book is 160 pages long and contains more than 150 paintings.
“I have been painting for 50 years in Santa Barbara. I’ve never written anything except college papers,” Mr. Schloss told the News-Press.
In the 1990s, one of his counselors challenged him to try something different. “You’ve been painting for a long time,” said his counselor. So Mr. Schloss tried different styles of painting.
Mr. Schloss then had the idea of writing a book. For Mr. Schloss, his book was an idea of self-expression, “a sort of a completion for me, a synopsis of what I have done.
“I have taken an interest in light and the way light works and how we paint it,” he said. “The book is about how I approach painting the light, and how artists paint light.
“During COVID-19, I started writing, and then it sort of came together. Initially it was about expressing myself and how I paint and what interests me in painting. It turned into a book so I started putting it together as a book with about 150 paintings,” said Mr. Schloss.
When Mr. Schloss finished his book, he sent it to a publisher in Wisconsin. His book is based on a series of nine teaching workshops in the early 2000s. “I did nine little studies representing different lighting situations as an illustration. When I wrote the book I used those nine paintings as the basis of the book,” said Mr. Schloss.
The News-Press asked Mr. Schloss what he wanted readers to take from the book, and he cited a comment by local author and art critic, Richard Payatt: “It is fascinating. The text is marvelous. I have learned Richard Schloss’s views on light and color, and probably won’t ever look at landscapes the same again. I am about halfway through the book, and the images are lovely.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Schloss how he hoped his book would influence other artists: “I didn’t intend for it to be for artists. Artists develop on their own and have their own unique way of expressing themselves.
“I don’t want to tell people how to paint because it ruins their uniqueness. I wouldn’t want to formulate an artist and tell them how to work, but I like the idea of an artist looking at it and seeing something different,” he said. “I look at the light and the space of the view. Where is the light coming from and how does the atmosphere affect it? Instead of drawing where you paint, you start with an abstract creation of light and dark, defining the space and then finding the objects in the space.”
Mr. Schloss was born in 1953 in Fort Worth Texas, but worked and showed in Santa Barbara since 1972. He completed a master of fine arts in painting in 1979 and a bachelor’s in Italian in 1981. He initially explored many different styles and mediums, but focused on painting outside in the landscape in 1976, which he continued to do exclusively until the mid 80s. Today, he continues to paint en plein air on small paintings, but does most of his work in the studio on large paintings.
In 1980, he spent a year painting in Europe on an award-winning scholarship. In 1992, he was chosen to paint the diorama backgrounds for the Cartwright Interactions Hall of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. He has done numerous commissions for public spaces, including Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and The Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
In 2015, he was offered a large, one-man show at the Museum of Ventura County. His work is included in four museums in the central California area: the Santa Barbara Historical Society, Ridley Tree Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Ventura County.
Mr. Schloss is the only known living artist in Santa Barbara whose paintings are found in four museums, and he has been a member of Santa Barbara’s Oak Group since its inception in 1986.
Mr. Schloss explained how his career influenced the writing of his book.
“I think everyone should write a book because everyone knows something,” he said. “When you write, you crystallize in your mind what you are good at and what you know. When you write a book, actually having to write it down in a concrete way that makes sense crystalizes what you know.”
Mr. Schloss explained that his book was never meant to be a financial endeavor.
“It was something I wanted to do.”