about the artist

The artist’s story: painting the memory of place


bob in beret

I have been an artist as long as I can remember. However, my relationship with the bamboo brush began when I was twelve years old. There was an art program on local public (then educational) television teaching basic sumi-e (Asian black ink painting).  I would come home after school and sit in front of the TV with my brush, paper and ink. Each day would be a different object to paint: orchid, crab, etc. This is how I became attached to the brush.

For over 50 years, I have been using ink and brush in the manner of Asian sumi-e (black ink) painters, primarily as a self-taught artist. As a graphic designer, I often have used brushwork in logos, design elements, and illustration. Click here to see examples.

Then in 1995, I had the opportunity to take 2 workshops with 2 Chinese painting masters, Lok Tok (see Lok Tok’s work) and Yitong Lok ( see Yitong’s work) of Toronto, Canada. This brief encounter turned my artistic world upside down. I received a glimpse of the depth and beauty of Chinese painting.  Over the years I continued to study with the Loks during their biennial visits to Minnesota and in short visits to Toronto.

In 1998, I met Hong Zhang, a Chinese painting master who lives here in Minneapolis. (see Mr. Zhang’s work) I became a private student of Mr. Zhang after taking 2 terms of Chinese calligraphy with him at the University of Minnesota.

For 20 years now under his direction, I continue to pursue a rigorous professional training in Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy.   My training with Mr. Zhang challenges and strengthen my skills and understanding of this ancient form of creative expression. The rigor of practice in this tradition has deepened my understanding of the power of these simple materials: ink, brush, and paper.

It is with great pleasure that I present my efforts to capture the spirit of landscapes I know and love—Minnesota landscapes—using ink and brush in the Chinese painting tradition. It is also an honor to be able to add my own poetry to these paintings—continuing the Chinese tradition of blending imagery with words.

I am often asked if I paint these on site, sitting by the falls or the lakes. I do not. They are paintings of the memory.  They are not photographic in the sense that you could actually go and find these exact locations as I present them.  If I am successful they will touch your memory of a particular place and evoke stronger feelings than if they were mere photographic representations. My goal is to capture the essence of place even if I have only one-stroke in which to catch it.

May you find some measure of hope and peace in this artwork
as I have found in creating it.

Bob's shop signature

Bob Schmitt

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• examples of Bob’s painting

• opportunities to study with Bob

• examples of his graphic design

• and to shop for cards and prints of his work

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