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Hi and welcome back.

I became enamored with the Schmidli backgrounds when I met Marco Schmidli at Photokina last year.

Marco’s booth was a few down from Expoimaging’s and we had met and chatted for a few minutes at the Expo booth.  I walked to his booth and thought he was a photographer, but instead I was greeted by a selection of the most beautiful backgrounds I had ever seen!

If you’ve never heard of Schmidli or Oliphant, then check them out.  These are not your average everyday backgrounds from Denny, Backdrop Outlet, or anyone else: these are custom painted canvas backgrounds that grace the likes of upscale, high end clients.

Marco Schmidli


Just open any magazine and you’ll probably see a custom background as their clients list includes:

Macy’s. Ralph Lauren, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Mario Testino, Anni Liebowitz and many, many others.

I found a great website that tells you how to make a DIY background in this style:


Be forewarned, it will cost you a few hundred bucks and at least a full day or even two to do this and also be prepared for mistakes!

I tried to paint my own last year.  It came out ok, but I made some mistakes that made the background a bit too bright not quite the look I wanted.

Here is a sample:


The mistakes I made:

I didn’t gesso the canvas: this is a huge mistake as the paint will attach to the gesso and leave the canvas smooth and supple

I didn’t use artist acrylic, instead I used leftover house paint.  Again, acrylics will provide a soft, smooth, and supple canvas

The third thing is the canvas.  While Cotton Duck is ok, Linen Canvas is preferred.

Lastly, go dark.  I mean go dark on final color.  It is easier to lighten a dark background than darken a bright one.

I’m going to try this again when the weather gets better of if I can find a large studio/garage space in which to work as it is time consuming and takes a lot of room.

For supplies to do this yourself:

Locally in CT: Hull’s Art Supply in New Haven has just about everything except Linen Canvas.  They have 8′ wide Cotton Duck canvas, which will work fine after you gesso it.

For Linen Canvas, try Rose Brand out of NJ.  They can offer 10′ wide canvas, and they’ll mount and ship a canvas on a tube already set up for you.

I’m very excited to have found this tutorial as the backgrounds have such a unique texture that they are just beautiful!!

Annie Liebowitz using one: Annie Liebowitz

That’s it for today.  Till next time, happy painting!