Charles Clark Reid
August 12, 1937 - June 1, 2019Charles Clark Reid, the celebrated American watercolor painter, died on June 1st at his home in Green's Farms, Connecticut. He was 81 years old.
Through an almost sixty-year career, Mr. Reid worked as a fine artist, illustrator, author and teacher. He was a member of the National Academy of Design and the Century Association. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States, and is included in the permanent collections of Smith College, Brigham Young University, the Century Club, the Yellowstone Art Center and the National Academy of Design. He also wrote eleven instructional books on painting.
Charles C. Reid was born August 12, 1937 in Cambridge, NY. He was educated at the South Kent School in Kent, CT, and attended the University of Vermont and the Art Students League in New York City. He insisted that his most valued educational achievement was his Eagle Scout badge.
Mr. Reid resided in Westport, CT during the1940s, while his father, David G. Reid, a former fighter pilot, worked for Pratt & Whitney on developing the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair fighter aircraft.
At the close of World War II, the Reid family relocated to Greenwich, New York, the home-town of his mother, the late Peggy Van Kirk Reid. Charlie and his brother, the late Gordon V.K. Reid, spent bucolic years learning woods lore with the Boy Scouts in the Adirondacks, target and trap shooting with their father, and riding their American quarter horse, Dixie.
Charles Reid could have become a cowboy, since he early mastered the key aspects of that trade, being both a superb horseman and crack shot. Certainly one of his earliest artistic influences--aside from John Ford motion pictures--was the Western artist Charlie Russell.
Mr. Reid met his future wife, Judith Hendrickson, while attending the University of Vermont, taking her to Sigma Phi formals in his MG TC. Although he left UVM to attend the Art Students League in New York, he continued to pursue Miss Hendrickson, sometimes literally. While Miss Hendrickson was traveling by bus with a group of fellow schoolteachers in France, Mr. Reid trekked over the Alps from Italy, driving his 125cc Lambretta scooter through icy mountain passes in sub-freezing temperatures to join her.
Mr. Reid served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1958 to 1960 as a large-wheel mechanic. When a non-commissioned officer noted his nascent artistic ability, he was employed in making signage for the Fort Dix motor pool. Mr. Reid was briefly re-activated during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
Miss Hendrickson wed Charles Reid later in 1961, and they traveled on the steamship S.S. Constitution to the island of Madeira, where, thanks to a small bequest from an aunt, they enjoyed a year-long honeymoon. Mr. Reid painted daily during his time on the island, developing the skills that would serve him in good stead for the rest of his career.
Upon returning to the United States, Mr. Reid took a job with Famous Artists Schools in Westport, instructing students through mail order courses. In 1963, Charles and Judith also purchased the circa-1727 colonial house in Green's Farms where they would reside together throughout their married life.
In Westport, Mr. Reid was able to pursue his love of sailing and wooden boats. He purchased a Danish-built Folkboat in 1968, and named it Pickle, after the H.M.S. Pickle, the sloop of war that brought the news of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar to England. He captained Pickle during numerous multi-day sailing expeditions during the 1970s and 1980s with his family. He was a skilled sailor, with a natural feel for wind and tide that allowed him to take the un-powered Pickle into even the trickiest harbor.
Mr. Reid left Famous Artists Schools in 1973, and struck out on his own as a fine artist. He won many awards for his work in subsequent years, including the Childe Hassam Purchase Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. Mr. Reid also won numerous awards at the National Academy of Design, including the 1st and 2nd Altman Prizes for Figure Painting, the Julius Hulgarten Award, the Clark Prize, the Salamagundi Award, the Ranger Fund, and the Emil Dines awards for watercolor and oil. Mr. Reid was awarded a gold medal by the Portrait Society of America, and a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators. He holds the Samuel Blumenthal Award and High Winds award from the American Watercolor Society.
In 1972, Mr. Reid was chosen to design an 8-cent postage stamp for the United States Postal Service on the theme of Family Planning.
Mr. Reid was the author of eleven instructional books on watercolor and oil painting, including the titles Painting What You Want to See, The Natural Way to Painting, Painting Flowers in Watercolor, Charles Reid's Watercolor Secrets, Portrait Painting in Watercolor and Figure Painting in Watercolor.
Mr. Reid's commercial work appeared in American Heritage, Harper's, Sports Afield, Reader's Digest Books, the Franklin Press and the L.L. Bean catalog. The Maine-based catalog company used a Charles Reid watercolor painting of a pair of Bean boots as an illustration in their catalog for many years.
One of Charlie Reid's callings was as a teacher, and he led watercolor workshops all over the United States, as well as Europe, Australia and Japan. He maintained particular friendships with his students and fellow artists Tony Bennett and the late Gene Wilder. He also enjoyed many painting trips to Trinidad with his good friend, the author Bob Waterman.
Another painting destination was Baccaro, Nova Scotia, where Mr. Reid purchased a run-down lobsterman's cottage in 1970. That property became a second studio for him, and a focus of his artistic development. He would summer in Nova Scotia every year from the late 1970s to the end of his life, and many of his oils and watercolors depict the rugged coast and flat light of the Canadian Maritimes. In between painting sessions, he would spend hours messing about in his boats, sailing his skiff or catboat around the Baccaro estuary, and out into the Atlantic.
Charles C. Reid is survived by his wife Judith, daughter Sarah Worth Reid and son-in-law Rob Pristash; son Peter Van Kirk Reid, daughter-in-law Dara Reid and granddaughter Willow Rain Reid; sister-in-law Betsey Mast Reid, nephew David Van Kirk Reid and niece Suzannah Reid.
Mr. Reid was predeceased by his cat Brutus, who passed away in 2005.
Published in Westport-News on Jun. 7, 2019.