“Few paintings, no matter how beautifully crafted, captivate me unless they contain a strong central idea,” says Virginia artist Edward J. Reed. “The core idea for this painting came from the subject’s personality. John, an 81-year-old World War II veteran, fell on hard times after the war, then worked as a merchant marine and an engineer before becoming an artist himself. Time has deprived John of many things, from physical mobility to loved ones who have passed away. For me, this painting is about dignity in the face of loss and isolation”.
When painting people Reed works from life whenever possible, developing the large shapes first. “Not sweating the details early lets me remain loose and expressive, which breathes life into my work”, he says. Unlike many classically trained portrait and figure artists, Reed avoids grisailles. “I plunge in with meaningful color from the first stroke,” he says. After graduating from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1986 with a minor in art, Reed pursued a career in law until a disability forced him to give up that career in 2000. In 2001 he started taking classes at The Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia. He taught a few classes there in 2003 and was asked to join the faculty in 2004.