Homecoming Light: The Return of Richard Schloss

By Zach Rosen   |   December 7, 2017

Each painter has an objective with his or her subject. Some explore form, line, and curve while others seek an expression and interpretation of an object. For landscape and impressionist painter Richard Schloss, it has been a lifelong pursuit of the intricacies of light. 

His enchanting landscape works can be found in private collections around the world and gracing public spaces, such as the walls of the SB Historical Museum or as dioramas surrounding the wildlife found in the Cartwright Interactions Hall of the SB Natural History Museum. After being away for several years, his current exhibit, “The Miracle in Light”, at the Palm Loft Gallery in Carpinteria presents not just a career in the exploration of light but his return to the Central Coast.

Schloss grew up in northern California and knew that he wanted to attend UCSB after high school. He enrolled as a physics major, coming from a family involved in the sciences, yet soon realized that course of study was not for him. During the summer, he took a drawing class at Berkeley and it sparked a flame in him. He had practiced a little calligraphy as a child but had never been particularly artistic. From that point on, there was no looking back. 

He returned to UCSB after the summer and immediately transferred into the art department. Teachers would warn the class that there were no jobs as an art major. Hearing this, he simply figured that he would eventually get a job teaching. Upon graduating, he wanted to first get some experience in the art world so that he would not be regurgitating the same lessons that he had received. The decision was the right one, and though he has taught the occasional workshop, teaching remains a dusty back-up plan with Schloss having sold his paintings for more than 45 years.

When Schloss was attending UCSB in the 1970s, it was rare to paint landscapes, as large abstracts were more the theme of the era. In the beginning Schloss mostly focused on abstract and figure painting. While outdoors on campus, he noticed a grad student who would sit there, observing color and painting outside. This inspired him to grab his own gear and begin to paint the outdoors. A bike was his main form of transportation while at UCSB, and this limited him to mostly painting the areas around the campus and Isla Vista. The days of being a struggling student long behind him, he now paints in his studio.

Schloss will visit different areas at various times of the day and season, searching for the right lighting to set the particular mood he would like the painting to have. Using his impressions from these site visits and photographs taken while there, he will craft a scene that focuses on how light interacts with its environment at a particular moment to evoke an atmosphere. Paintings of glowing seascapes display the light being dispersed in ocean spray. Sprawl vistas show daybreak warming the treeline. With each painting, Schloss strives to capture the ambiance of a specific moment in time rather than the recording of a specific place.

Over his career, Schloss visited traditional areas abroad such as Venice and England to paint their particular settings. Despite the appeal of those locales, Schloss still found himself drawn to the Central Coast and has spent most of his life here. Santa Barbara, being a relatively small town surrounded by lush hillsides and pristine coastline, offers unrivaled beauty and picturesque scenery that competes with any classical European landscape. Schloss even notes that the lighting of this area is particularly unique. For most of his career, he has been in Santa Barbara, occasionally exhibiting in the Bay Area. Several years back, he relocated to the Marin County and Napa Valley for a change of scene before moving back to Santa Barbara about a year ago.

Schloss had not had an exhibit since returning to the area, but with his new exhibit, “The Miracle of Light”, this has changed. Arturo Tello, co-founder and a fellow member of the Oak Group, a collection of painters dedicated “to protecting open lands for wildlife, recreation, ranching, and farming” through painting and fundraising, recently took over the Palm Loft Gallery in Carpinteria. The two had been friends since the ’80s, and when Schloss returned they discussed having him at the gallery. 

“Light” is currently on display until January 21, 2018, at the Palm Loft Gallery. The exhibit will feature older examples of his works, as well as some paintings that are “still wet.” Schloss found himself continuing to paint the Central Coast while living up north and many of the paintings in the show were produced during this two-year period. After more than four decades of painting, Schloss respects the rare opportunity he has had to make a lifelong living as a painter and is happy to see that people are still interested in paintings.


You might also be interested in...