Richard Schloss: A Lifetime of Painting the Light

By Zach Rosen   |   November 9, 2021
The many studies of light and nature by Richard Schloss will be on display at “Painting The Light”

Everyone has a unique perspective and sees the world a little differently. This always becomes apparent when looking at landscape paintings where two artists will represent the same scene in completely different ways. Some artists may focus on how color captures the movement of nature. Others may emphasize the organic forms that are found outdoors. For Richard “Rick” Schloss, it has always been about the light. Throughout his illustrious career of nearly 50 years of plein air painting, Rick has studied how the sun and natural light affect the atmosphere and colors of nature. 

The culmination of his experience capturing the many moods of light around the central coast can be seen in the upcoming exhibit, “Painting The Light” at the Santa Barbara Fine Art Gallery, owned by Rick and his wife, Julie. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, November 4, from 5-8 pm where guests will be able to view the collection of around 20 new works and several pieces from the archives. 

Throughout his career, Rick has formed special connections to the areas he has painted like Venice and England, but it is the distinct setting of the Central Coast that continues to inspire him. This area has the unusual geographical feature of an east-west coastline, which changes the orientation of the sun and how it moves in relation to the mountains and ocean. This distinct lighting path produces a low-setting sun that accentuates the “pink moment” of sunset. These days Rick prefers the setting of his studio, located in the back of their gallery. When painting outdoors, the artist is often working under time constraints as the sun moves. This can give the painting a certain freshness, but can also have a hurriedness to it. In the studio, he can take his time to get the light just right. 

When Rick first began studying painting and art at UCSB in the seventies, he was not very interested in the large abstracts and contemporary styles of painting popular in school. After watching a grad student paint outdoors on campus, Rick was inspired to take his work outdoors and began painting different areas of the iconic campus and its surroundings. At the time, this wasn’t very common in his classes, but he eventually discovered other like-minded artists in the OAK Group, founded by Arturo Tello and Ray Strong in 1986. This group of plein air painters are dedicated to capturing the splendor of endangered landscapes, using their artworks to draw attention to these areas and raise funds for their preservation. Today the OAK Group has about two dozen members and has held over 100 exhibitions with sales of $3 million supporting open space preservation, benefitting more than 20 nonprofit conservation organizations.

After living in Northern California for a while, Rick and Julie moved back to Santa Barbara about four years ago. When they returned, many of the local gallery owners Rick had worked with were retired. Most of the existing galleries in the area did not feel quite right to him and it wasn’t until a space became available that he contemplated starting his own spot. Owning a gallery never had much appeal to Rick in the past and he was somewhat reluctant at first, but it has since proved an exciting and rewarding experience. Santa Barbara Fine Art is located next to the Arlington Theatre and just a few stores down from Distinctive Framing, whose owner, Dave Lombardi, has been helping Rick with the framing of his pieces. 

The gallery is a chance to curate the space how they would like and incorporate the lessons they’ve learned from working with so many galleries over the years. With their own gallery, Rick and Julie wanted to provide the best experience they could for both visitors and the participating artists. 

They get to highlight and celebrate the works from the cadre of accomplished painters they know, many of whom happen to be their longtime friends. It has also given them the opportunity to discover and support new artists. Since opening Santa Barbara Fine Art, the gallery has been very well received and hosted a range of successful exhibits, such as the 35th Anniversary Exhibit for The OAK Group. Rick’s exhibit will be on display until March 2022.


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