Don Reed: The Illusion of Light

Don Reed: The Illusion of Light

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46789-p3Sometimes an artist is so articulate that it’s best to present his story in his own words. Painter Don Reed tells us about his creative journey in a beautiful and compelling narrative.

“As young boy, I always loved to draw and sketch, but my real introduction to art started at the age of 12, when I attended oil painting classes in a little fishing shack in picturesque York Harbor, ME with a crusty old seascape painter by the name of Edwin Booth. He taught basic painting to kids on Saturday mornings during the summer months. The laughter of children happily painting and the distinctive smell of linseed oil remains one of my most cherished childhood memories.

don-reed-1424014030-squareAlthough I have attended many classes and workshops, throughout my life, I consider myself to be primarily a self-taught artist. Over the last 50 years, I have painted in acrylics, watercolor, pastel, gouache and oils. In the fall of 2007 I began a new journey of discovery with my art, a journey that began with one brush stroke. I had been trained using the filbert or rounded brushes. Then I saw a video by well known southwestern artist Matt Smith who demonstrated using a square brush for his landscape paintings. This little change in my painting technique was the beginning of a new approach. My original goal in this new painting style was to eliminate the detail that I had been so used to painting by reducing the image to an almost pixelized appearance. This was accomplished by vertical strokes using a square or flat brush and working on the painting upside down. Lots of squinting and viewing the ongoing painting using a mirror held overhead. After taking some time to experiment with brush techniques and color application, I slowly began to formulate a vision of how I wanted my paintings to look. From 2008 to 2013 the technique continually evolved until in 2014 I put down the brushes and picked up a palette knife and took a major step toward perfecting the painting style you see today.

46789-p2I have changed the way I look at what I wish to paint. I am captivated by creating the illusion of light in my work so with each new project I first ask myself “Does this subject matter have enough light and warmth?” Even in my cityscapes I look for strong light sources often counterbalanced by complex shading. I am also constantly amazed when the combination of color strokes visually translates into objects instead of “drawing” objects with a brush. This “abstraction” or “fragmentation” of an image is what entertains the eye and stimulates the brain to “recreate” the objects in a unique way for each individual viewer.

Monhegan-Memories (Small)Although my current work is radically different from my traditional pre-2007 work, it owes everything to all my past artistic endeavors, regardless of how “successful” they were. If I had never learned the skill of pencil portraiture or experienced the discipline of watercolor or felt the exhilaration of painting plein air on the rocks of Monhegan, perhaps I never would have arrived at this point. It is this artistic journey that, I believe in the end, defines the artist. My work is in private collections all over the country and abroad. Several of my pieces have been included in shows at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH.

Today my greatest joy is making a connection through my paintings to the viewer in a way that requires no words. I believe that ART is what occurs in the quiet space between the viewer and the artwork. It is in that space that creativity, imagination and inspiration is transferred from the artist directly to the viewer.”

We hope you have found Don Reed’s story as fascinating and illuminating as we did. Please visit his booth and see his latest work at both Paradise City Marlborough and Paradise City Northampton this spring.