The following are images of paintings done in collaboration between Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt. Ron and Ric paint on the same painting at the same time with no discussion before-hand as to what they are going to paint. Here are some images showing them at work. See a gallery of their images below and their story below that.
The Background Story Behind Two Collaborative Pastel Artists
Each of the pieces is a collaborative improvisation by two artists Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt.
Created while working side-by-side, painting simultaneously.
Hall and Schmitt began their collaborative style in 1983. Prior to that they would get together for friendly critiques of one another’s individual work. One day, frustrated by the inability of speech to convey visual ideas, one of the artists handed the brush to the other and said, “Show me.” After that they would often step into each other’s work.
This led to “a two heads are better than one” type of exploration, and ultimately to working in tandem. The two leapt into oils, watercolors, gauche, egg tempera, acrylic, and more. There was no material for two or three dimensions that wasn’t abused in their hands. This exploration continued until they stumbled upon a set of soft pastels that had been left to Ric by a patron. They realized in short order that they had found the perfect medium for their needs.
Pastels proved to be quick and flexible; they are premixed, and don’t require the drying time necessary to so many other mediums. Even the one ostensible drawback, vulnerability of the loose pigment, was overcome by fixing the painting in layers at different intervals. This was accomplished using an ultra fast drying fixative directly from a Degas receipt.
Standing side by side, they work simultaneously on a horizontal surface. Periodically they place the piece on an easel to view the progress from a fresh perspective. There is little communication until it becomes apparent that the piece is beginning to develop a direction. At that time they may finally discuss it in a very general fashion. The artists allow each painting to more or less reveal itself threw-out the process.
In the early years, as they learned to cope with working in this fashion, abstract organic images were the rule. Gradually, a kind of collective subconscious developed, and the images began to display a more figurative, often surrealistic, sense of narrative. The maturity of their style has evolved significantly from those early abstracts.
Ron Schmitt is married and living with his wife in Seattle Washington where his studio is and Ric is married and living with his wife and son Henry in Tacoma Washington, fifty miles to the south, where his studio is.
Ron is a retail store director by day and pastel artist during those weekly intervals when it isn’t necessary to for him to be on site to keep the store running.
Ric is now working full time to promote the pastel painting the two make while developing his own works that include sumi style black and white rugby themed paintings as well as sculptures in most any media. The rugby themed paintings, both collaborative pastels as well as Ric’s solo work, can be seen at www.zippyrugby.com.
The two work one day a week about forty weeks a year and produce between 75 and 120 paintings a year. Their workday when they paint begins during the nine o’clock hour and lasts 12, 14 even 16 hours. The workday begins with an hour of preparation that includes cleaning the pastels from the previous session, mounting the pastel paper that they paint on, and then they are ready to go. With a pallet of about 175 different pastels, made by any one of five different manufacturers, there is little they can’t represent while painting.
There are rules that have evolved over the twenty plus years of painting in this fashion that suggest who starts first and the other is free to jump in and begin at any point after that. With the only guiding criteria of finishing with a mutually agreed upon painting there is no reason for one or the other to hold back and not begin to add to the painting. At some point while painting it must be “fixed” so additional layers can be added or because there is no clear direction that the painting is moving towards. At this time a second painting is begun which will also reach a similar impasse as the first. At that time the second painting is fixed and the first painting is picked back up and is addressed with a new energy as a result of painting on the second piece. This process of back and forth continues until both artists consider the paintings complete. It’s not until the digital image is saved to the hard drive for the web site that a name is applied to the painting. Ric is the primary web site manager and the typical author of the painting names. Both artists agree they haven’t painted their masterpiece yet.
Visit their website HERE