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Artist finds Western Md. has inspiring landscapes

January 22, 2001

Artist finds Western Md. has inspiring landscapes



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Bill SchmidtChemical-engineer-turned-landscape-artist Bill Schmidt relies on his technical and emotional responses to a scene when deciding what to paint.

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"Sometimes a scene is just so terrific - usually a mixture of beauty or drama and light effects - that it demands to be painted and I do it immediately," said Schmidt.

Those paintings are usually sunsets and unusual clouds or skies, he said.

"Other times I scout several potential sites, sketching as I go and rejecting scenes until one really hits me emotionally."

At that point the Rockville, Md., artist does a quick pencil sketch, methodically noting the time of day, the season of the year and other details.

"Some scenes, I paint then and there, and others I return to do soon afterward to capture the seasonal effects of color and light that attracted me," said Schmidt, 68, who lists Claude Monet as one of his heroes.

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Sometimes scenes will remain in his notebook for months before he gets to them, he said.

Thirty of Schmidt's paintings are on display at the Washington County Arts Council gallery on South Potomac Street through Feb. 10. A reception for Schmidt was held Sunday afternoon.

The works displayed were of landscapes, street scenes or water scenes from 18 different locations, including Hagerstown; Beaver Creek; Frederick, Md.; Annapolis, Md.; Emmitsburg, Md.; Middletown, Md.; Myersville, Md.; and Burkittsville, Md.

"It's an unusual and time-consuming process," said Gallery Director Natoma Reed Vargason of Schmidt's painting process.

She said many landscape artists work from photos.

"I'm charmed by the impressionist quality of his work and his play with light," Vargason said.

A steady flow of people came to the gallery Sunday to view his paintings of farms, streams, downtown street scenes, boats, and market scenes.

Schmidt's works were previously shown at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, she said.

Schmidt has been painting full time for the past 15 years. He said he decided to paint exclusively because "I'm not going to live forever."

He said he enjoys painting landscapes and small towns in Western Maryland because of their sense of history and timeless appeal.

"This could have been painted 150 years ago and look the same," he said, gesturing to a street scene.

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