Just learned (via my good friend John Haycraft of Sydney) about the passing of Charles Reid, watercolorist extraordinaire. Charles was such an incredible influence on so many painters around the world, that his expansive legacy will live on for decades to come. That will certainly be the case for yours truly, as I had learned so much from him, and developed a continuing friendship with Charles and his dear wife Judy.
I had the good fortune to first meet Charles at Key West, when Bill Hook, then President of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI.org) retained Charles for a targeted workshop for its ASAI members from all around the country. It was a revelation to see the ease and command of the medium with which he executed his demo views for us. While he was doing a beach scene for the group, I had captured Charles and Bill Hook together as he was painting at easel. During the last day’s session, Charles admitted that he was “intimidated by all these watercolor illustrators…”; which floored everybody, coming from so illustrious a painter!
I had a second opportunity to work with Charles when ASAI again arranged for his conducting a limited workshop for its members on scenic Catalina Island, CA. We even had a member come all the way from Japan to attend the four fantastic days of painting. In addition to the many scenic places on Avalon, I had chosen to paint Keitaro Hatanaka, when Charles asked that we should paint each other after his portrait demo. Keitaro was wearing two pair of glasses at the time and shielded from the CA sun. The paint methods from Charles were liberating for me in capturing flesh tones, light and values, etc.
Having connected well with Charles and Judy during that Catalina trip, I had asked Charles to serve as an Awards Juror for the fourth Plein Air Vermont event in North Bennington, VT in 2013. He was a terrific presence at this event, and had attracted a great crowd with a stunning portrait demo at a Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, up the road from the event venue. He had made no bones about his tendency to quietly and randomly hiss (I guessed an intaking of breath, or maybe a low whistling) while he worked on the deep colors of the model. Answering questions during the work, he explained his technique of using a loaded brush to paint upwards, rather than a typically downward stroke. There was also book signing, arranged by Northshire who had ordered some of his books, and which was welcomed by the many guests at the demo.
Charles was also a very astute juror, since PAVT 4 had a large number of remarkable painters from around the country. He had chosen Vermont’s own Mark Boedges for his outstanding barn painting for the First Prize. Charles and Mark are together with Tony Conner and Frank, two of four Co-Founders of the PAVT event. (above) Mark won a full page ad image for his prize winner.
Charles also agreed to an interview/lecture about his work, about his early training and background, hosted by yours truly at the Bennington Museum. (above) It was an in-depth coverage of his career, his self-taught skills, his subjects, his many travels, books and videos, and some of his favorite painters. Charles candor and openness on so many points was an intriguing aspect to the many principles he shared in his workshop teachings. It was a remarkable show of and insight into works, which was recorded by the local cable station.
This opportunity, via PAVT, to more strongly connect with Charles was a privilege and a treasure for me. We continued by exchanging Holiday cards every year, which was a delight. He was a dear man, dedicated to his painting and readily sharing his knowledge. And he set such a strong example for so many others – painters and instructors – now following in his very large footsteps. Charles Reid forged an enormous path that will assure his legacy for a very long time. Too Many Thanks; & So Long Charles…