Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Interview with Katie Schmid

Katie Schmid

     Katie Schmid is an artist, a teacher and a student. Her work resides in private and permanent collections. In her Artist's Statement, she "hopes for transcendent images that speak of the very depths of our existence." Here are a few thoughts she had to share:

Tell me about your Stations of the Cross Series.
The Stations of the Cross was a project that I was commissioned to do for a local chapel in Orange County, California. After I had started preparations on the work, I found out that the project wasn't able to go through at the time. In perfect timing, a priest from the Dominicans at Purdue Universities Catholic Center contacted me about Stations for the on campus Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. The works are now in West Lafayette, Indiana on permanent display. It was commissioned, but it is also something very personal to me. I wept through painting it at times as it is hard not to think about what it is you are painting. It was a very profound and moving experience for me. 

 How did you arrive at the final mood the paintings carry (e.g., lighting, composition)? Did you work from historical references? 
 I really love artists like Zurburan and Rembrandt. The way a figure gradates back into a shadowy space can really hold so much mystery for the viewer. I was hoping to do something like this, but in my own way. I am always looking at different types of works of art and am very moved by the thematic pull they carry. This is so much enhanced by the way it is painted too. I wanted the lighting to be as dim but almost feeling like it was lit up by a candle. I had a local musician model as Christ and friends and family model for the other figures. My sisters and sister in-law were some of the weeping women. One of my brothers was Pontius Pilate while my other brother was the soldier nailing Christ to the Cross and also Simon, who helped Christ carry His cross. 

 5th Station

How would you describe your training as a painter?
 My training as a painter has been traditional in its focus. When I was growing up, I would always be looking at Raphael or Michelangelo books. My BFA was earned at Laguna College of Art and Design in drawing and painting. I am currently earning my MFA at the same school. It is definitely focused on the representational approach to painting.

Do you recommend the same type training to others? 
Yes, I would really recommend this route. For me, it was helpful to give me the tools, direction, and support to be a fine artist. I am a big believer in knowing as much as you can about portraying this representationally before you start bending the rules to your will. 

Your sacred art shows the influence of Zurbaran and Thayer, as you’ve stated on your website. What contemporary artists are you currently drawn to? 
Currently, I have been in love with Albert Pinkham Ryder, Arnold Bocklin, and George Inness. These painters really have a mystical way about how and what they paint. They begin to feel otherworldly. There is a devotion in them.

 12th Station

Are your sacred art paintings commissioned or personal or both? 
They are both for me if they are commissioned. I work on sacred art works that are not commission too. If you so choose, anything you paint can become a spiritual practice and a work of devotion. It does not have to be a religious painting. It could be painted with such a love of God. This is what I think Albert Pinkham Ryder does within his paintings. 

I read that you give art lessons. What is the format- workshop/group setting or individual instruction, and will you give a basic outline of a course? 
My art lessons have been on an individual, one on one basis so far. Sometimes I will have 2 students together. I try to see where my student is at within his learning process and help them grow from that point. I really enjoy seeing my students grow and progress as an artist. I gain students by word of mouth and they are normally from my area. I have thought about giving workshops too but do not yet have concrete plans for these.

What are your plans after graduate school? 
After I complete my MFA, I would like to get a teaching job at a local college or University. I will apply all over though, so, there may be some surprises in the mix! I will keep painting and working on my body of work for private and group shows. I very much want to put more sacred art into the Church in America.

Your work expresses your faith. What do you believe your role in culture to be?
 In our culture, I feel my place is to bring a place of peace and faith to the viewer. It is something to reflect upon and have a dialogue with the painting. To think about things that we cannot see but know by faith and and inner guidance. This is not something that I am trying to impose but to invite people to rest in a sacred space. I hope that it brings some benefit to whoever would view these works. 

What advice would you give to a young artist who wants to express their faith through their art? 
Trust in God and work hard. Place yourself under the right teachers to help you grow as you should. Don't be afraid to put your artwork out there as the world wants to know who you are! We want to see how you see life around you. 

2nd Station


Katie Schmid paints from her studio in
Laguna Beach, California and is currently working on a Master of Fine Arts.
To see more of her work

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