Don Reed: Finding Your Voice

NOAPS Reed Morning Along the River 8x24

“Morning Along the River”, 8×24, Oil on Canvas.  Winner of ‘Best Impressionism’ at the 1st Spring Best of America SMALL PAINTING Exhibition at the Richland Fine Art Gallery, Nashville, TN.

The style of Impressionism is easily, and at once, visible in Don Reed’s painting.  What the casual observer might not necessarily take note of, however, is the careful crafting of the image that has taken place.  The artist chose his colors to gradually shift complements; he placed the values at uneven intervals to guide the viewer along the scene and show spacial relationships.  The drawing is accurate and the composition well planned.  He has achieved his own style of impressionism, by placing notes of color side by side, layer upon layer, with a tactile sense that can only be produced with confidence.

NOAPS Reed 40x30 Ally with Green Windows sm  “Alley with Green Windows”, 40×30, Oil on Canvas.  Available through Reinert Fine Art, Charleston, SC.

The painter has arrived at his own style by searching his own aesthetic, and with easel time and risk he found his unique approach.  His first oil painting class began in Maine, when at the age of 12, his step-father Wilbur Bullock, a well-known cartoonist and advertising artist, enrolled him in a class with Edwin Booth.  As Don recalls, “The laughter of children happily painting and the distinctive smell of linseed oil remains one of my favorite childhood memories.”

NOAPS reed 24x24 Awakening sm  “Awakening”, 24×24, Oil on Canvas.  Available through the Blue Heron Fine Art Gallery, Wellfleet, MA.

Don attributes much of his success to his step-father, and also to Stan Moeller, one of New England’s acclaimed plein air artists.  Mr. Reed has taken art classes and workshops, but is primarily self-taught.  His initial attempts in a traditional type of painting were moderately successful, but after much experimentation, he found a style that both satisfied his creative desires and was met with commercial success.

NOAPS Reed 24x24 Lakeview Traffic sm  “Lakeview Traffic”, 24×24, Oil on Canvas.  Private Collection.

Dramatic lighting is an inspiration to the artist.  Much of his work is done from photos he has taken, which he adjusts and alters on his computer.  The image is then viewed upside down, and the painting is actually done upside down as well.  He starts out with an underpainting that mirrors the mood he wishes to create, and works the paint with only a palette knife.  He steps back often to check his progress, using a hand mirror above his head to view the painting right side up.

NOAPS Reed work in progress  Work in progress.

Working exclusively in oils, his paints are a variety of mineral and modern colors including Prussian blue, Phthalo blue (green shade), Ultramarine blue, Utrecht Brilliant blue, Quinacridone magenta, Dioxazine purple, Quinacridone red, Phthalo green, Cadmium green, Permanent green light, Indian yellow, Titanium white, Cadmium yellow, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red, Holbein bright red, and Alizarin crimson.  His surface is usually a 1-1/2 inch cotton canvas, or a cradled board and as mentioned, only palette knives for paint application.

NOAPS Reed 24x18 First Snow sm  “First Snow”, 24×18, Oil on Canvas.  Private Collection

Don’s quest for his unique style has led him to a universal truth of relevance to all artists: “Find your own voice, and don’t stop searching until you discover it….Certainly learn all the basics…but don’t be afraid to take a walk on the wild side once in a while.  Love what you do and others will love it too.”

Don Reed is represented by The Reinert Fine Art Gallery in Charleston, SC and the Blue Heron Gallery in Wellfleet, MA.  To view more of Don’s work, visit his website at

To view the 1st Spring Best of America SMALL PAINTING Exhibition, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director

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