For today’s MakerStory we’re talking with German-born artist Reinhard Schmid. A professional artist who over the last 30 years has exhibited his works globally, Reinhard has also been a pioneer in blockchain art. Reinhard shares his story, inspirations and a look into his creative process. If you’ve never heard of hinterglas, you’re in for a treat as Reinhard shares how over the last 30 years he’s refined and incorporates this classic technique into his works.
How did your story start as an artist?
I have a clear memory of holding a brush at the age of three. My father, also being a painter, set up a tiny table for me, so I could “work” next to him. From my childhood days, I always liked to draw and my parents always supported their kids’ creativity. So I was pretty much always drawing, even during school. Despite the challenges of being a self-employed artist, my parents always encouraged me, to follow this passion.
Were you always interested in art growing up?
Since I was always around artists from an early age, it was more or less inevitable. Of course your interest in art is different when you’re a child. My attention span in galleries and art museums grew with age, but I always enjoyed being around artists when they came to visit my parent’s home, where we all talked and painted together.
When did you decide to follow your path as an artist?
I don’t think I ever considered anything else, although I can’t say it was a straight path. Besides art I always had an interest for technical things and as a teenager I did technical drawings (which all my friends hated) for fun. I grew up in a small town in the so-called Bavarian Forest, an area in southern Germany, where I’m very comfortable today. Back then, in cold war Europe, it was very remote for a teenager or young adult and since I was fascinated by ships, I left home to serve on a submarine for a few years, before I actually thought of getting a real job… in my case, a professional artist 😉
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Today I use two main approaches for my traditional work. The first is to work with graphite pencil, watercolor and oil on reverse side of glass. The other is oil painting based on the methods of the old Flemish painters from a few hundred years ago. In addition I work a lot digitally, in preparation of my traditional works, fine tuning compositions or testing color combinations. But also to create new art, based on finished traditional works.
All artworks start with giving shape to an idea on paper first. I usually do a very quick sketch on the cheapest piece of paper I can grab, so I’m not held back by thinking the materials are “too nice” to be wasted on doodling. That way I’m free to just get the ideas out of my head as a base to start from. I then look for reference material, work with models and bring all the bits and pieces together in a more and more refined draft. Once I’m happy with the design, I continue on glass or canvas. Although I usually have a pretty good idea of where I want to go at this point, there are always little changes, particularly with the final colors. With reverse glass painting (Hinterglas) however, there comes a point, when you can no longer correct anything, as you are working “away” from the actual front side. Its hard for me to explain in words alone, this blog post I made about the Hinterglas technique will give a clearer picture:
My oil paintings use an old master’s approach. On a canvas with a mid tone color, usually an orange-ish brown, I paint the forms only with white with a water-based medium like acrylics or egg tempera. When that is finished, the painting looks a little bit like an old sepia-colored photograph. The color is then added in thin oil glazes. With egg tempera white, one can always fine tune and enhance the form further and then continue again with thin oil color glazes. Although very tedious, this method creates a light and depth in a painting almost impossible to reach with any other technique.
I usually make scans or take photos from all stages of my traditional paintings and often develop them digitally into something new and different.
Do you have a favorite artist who you draw inspiration from?
It would be hard to name just one favorite artist. They also change with time, but I guess old masters like Botticelli, Caravaggio, Vermeer and of course DaVinci will always remain great for me. I also like early 20th century German painters like Otto Dix, and recently I feel increasingly inspired by lowbrow, pop art and illustration. In essence, I’m more inspired by a style rather than an individual artist.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in creating art, and how do you deal with them?
Giving shape to an idea and constantly improving my skills. When you have an idea, it’s like in a dream… just about anything is possible. But although you can stick your finger through a brick wall in a surrealist painting just like in a dream, once its out on your drawing surface, it might not look as consistent as it was in your head. Then one has to look for a way, to make the “nonsense” look logical. Also, the more specific or tangible you want to be in your painting, the more skill you need so your results don’t appear dilettante. Therefore I try to constantly expand my limits.
One big factor for dealing with these challenges for me is practice and patience. I also put pieces in progress aside and work on something else, to come back with a fresh eye. The artist is naturally in love with his creation, so you need some time and distance, to be able to judge what you are doing unbiased and in a more detached state.
How do you see the art market and the art world changing?
The art market and world are very complex and happen on many levels. The “high end” with its multi-million dollar transactions is a universe of its own and there I think the changes are more about how money is being moved around with the application of new technologies like cryptocurrencies.
I think the biggest changes are happening on a more moderate level. For one, more and more people can enjoy art through technologies like the internet. Almost any masterpiece ever created can be viewed online and we can visit art museums all over the world with a few keystrokes and clicks. You can even get your copy of your favorite painting on a cup with a few more clicks. But with new lifestyles it seems to become less important to own actual physical things and there blockchain technology has great potential for the right answers.
Being able to take your art collection with you wherever you go some day, might just be as common as having a whole library of books on your smart phone today.
How has technology and an increasingly digital world impacted your work?
After I got my first computer and got access to the world wide web in the early 90s, a whole new world opened up. Be it networking, planning projects with other artists or promoting as well as creating my art, it has impacted every aspect of my work to the point, that I cannot imagine to be without it.
How do you think blockchain and the ability to own digital art will affect the industry?
To me blockchain technology is sparking a big revolution in art history, comparable to the invention of photography. It is hard to predict what will happen, as established circles and markets will most likely try to defend their share. But I can see a similar trend as in music with the start of DRM. Who knows, maybe in a few years, there will be flat rates or art subscriptions for your Meural displays. I think there will be a lot of new opportunities for creators and businesses alike.
Why are you excited about MakersPlace?
Many reasons. A very simple one to start is, because it works!
It seems there is a great team of very skilled and committed people behind it. I like the way the site is designed and how it is easy to navigate and to use. Support is super fast and results-oriented. Uploading new creations and maintaining my store is very straightforward and everything is constantly being improved. There is an easy way to view ones own collection including proof of authenticity, as well as an option for the owner to download the original file!
Plus one gets a feeling, that the team of MakersPlace really cares about what they do and about the artists.
Follow Reinhard Schmid
You can also collect Reinhard’s limited edition digital artwork on his MakersPlace store.
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