Fred Schollmeyer has spent all his life making his mark on the world with his artwork. This year Schollmeyer put together his work into a book entitled, “Photorealism in the Heartland: The Acrylic …
Fred Schollmeyer has spent all his life making his mark on the world with his artwork. This year Schollmeyer put together his work into a book entitled, “Photorealism in the Heartland: The Acrylic Paintings of Fred Schollmeyer.”
“The book is doing well,” Schollmeyer said. “The Book Authority gave it an award for one of ‘The Best New Acrylic Painting Books of the Year.’ It shocked me and I’m still not sure how it all came about.”
Schollmeyer’s painting which graces the cover of the book is called “Building America.” This painting also won an award from the “The Best of Acrylics” magazine. The painting will be featured in their October edition.
Schollmeyer fell in love with the photorealism style of painting while he was attending college at Lincoln University.
“I just kinda got hooked on it,” Schollmeyer explains. “It’s all meant to look highly realistic but at the same time, they are paintings. It’s like copying a photograph in a way but you can use your artistic skills to change it around and do what you want with it.”
Schollmeyer’s painting starts with a photograph. He then uses a computer program called “Paint Shop Pro” where he can go in and crop parts of the image that he does not want in his final painting. He can also adjust the lighting and colors.
“I do the drawing and then I put a stencil over it that has an adhesive and I spray (the acrylic paint) with an airbrush that’s hooked up to an air compressor,” Schollmeyer explains. “I paint in layers. I start with light colors and then I’ll do all of the reds and so on.”
Finally, he peels the film off and uses a regular brush to paint in details.
A small painting may take him from six to eight hours to complete while a more detailed painting may take several days.
“It’s a pretty involved process and you have to be really skilled,” Schollmeyer said.
Schollmeyer takes all the photographs himself. There are times when he will set up to take photographs for future paintings and other times, he is thankful for his smartphone.
“Sometimes I’m just in a spot and I’m waiting on a train and I think this might work and I’ll just take a whole bunch of photos,” Schollmeyer said. “I walk my dog through the woods twice a day, down through the hollow, and one day we were down there and there is no one around and I thought this will make a good painting.”
He titled that painting “Sunset View from Owl Creek,” which he included in his book. The painting is a beautiful landscape that is one of his favorites. It seems to capture a little piece of Osage County. That is exactly what Schollmeyer was trying to do, capture the world in which he lives. The book has images that very much represent Osage County but also Schollmeyer himself.
“This was a bucket-list kind of thing,” Schollmeyer admits. “I painted for all of those years and always in the back of my mind I thought to myself I’d like to put these together in a book someday.”
But Schollmeyer ultimately wanted to put together the book for his future great-grandchildren, and their children.
“I’ve got six grandchildren and I don’t know if I’ll ever see my great-grandkids,” Schollmeyer explains. “Someday this is something that they can look at and say ‘oh, great-great-grandpa did this.’ It is a way for me to tell them who I was, in a way. They can look at the book and get a sense of something about me and a sense of the time in our life. It’s how the world was when I lived.”
Schollmeyer’s family is very present in the book. There are paintings of the kids and grandkids at the beach. There are scenes from their trips to the Missouri State Fair. There is a painting of the school bus in the early morning hours going down the county road to pick up his grandchildren and paintings of the birds that visit the bird feeders at their house. In several paintings, he uses his grandchildren’s art as the background for the painting. There are even old, vintage toys from his wife, Diane’s childhood that he places in paintings for still-lifes.
“Of course, my brothers own a salvage yard, so I’ve done a bunch of paintings of old cars in the snow,” Schollmeyer said. Those paintings are included in the “Transportation” chapter of the book.
Schollmeyer has always carved out time to paint. Even when his own kids were small, he would find a little bit of time here and there to paint.
“It’s something I’ve had a lot of fun doing,” Schollmeyer said about his artwork.
Schollmeyer admits that not everyone gets excited about his paintings.
“Some people appreciate it, and some people have no appreciation for it,” Schollmeyer said. “But there is something inside of you that says you should do it.”
For Schollmeyer painting is almost like therapy.
“I always play music when I’m painting and it’s almost like having your own personal psychiatrist there with you calming you down, helping you,” Schollmeyer explains. “It’s amazing how important it is to the individual to be able to produce art.”
Schollmeyer’s two children, Nick and Jesse, helped with different parts of the book.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to produce something other people appreciate,” said Schollmeyer, who retired from teaching art.
In his career, he taught at all three public schools in Osage County.
“I did my student teaching at Chamois and then I taught for three years at Linn but most of my career was at Fatima Junior High and Elementary, where I taught for 23 years,” Schollmeyer said.
Schollmeyer’s website, www.fredschollmeyer.com, has original pieces and prints for sale. A lot of his paintings are small because it makes them more practical to ship. He travels to different art fairs around the state although this year, all of those have been canceled because of COVID.
Schollmeyer is always happy to receive feedback from other artists. He especially remembers a recent email he received from an artist who told Schollmeyer that his work always helps inspire him.
That is the goal for Schollmeyer, whether it is from his artwork or from the many years he spent teaching art.
“I’ve had thousands of students and hopefully I inspired those kids,” Schollmeyer said. “You look back and say maybe I made just a little bit of change in somebody over the years, maybe some of them are just a little different because they had me as a teacher.”