I paint people because I find them challenging, interesting, and overflowing with narrative. I am documenting time, place, society, and how these people fit into it – or at least my interpretation of that. We can all relate to life’s struggles, simple pleasures, emotions, and the aches and pains of aging. My paintings are a way for me to share my perspective of these facets of life. I paint people as I see them, flaws and all. My paintings are not meant to be flattering; my intention is not to please the subject and make a commission, but to create a piece of art.
On a strictly visual level, I see my paintings as relating fields of color that toy with balance and the eye’s path. These compositions are decorated with detail and texture, but the interplay among colors, the harmony and discord, is what excites me as a painter. I love a rudimentary, centralized composition, perfectly balanced, like a circle within a square. This simplistic solution to balance is why I like a single, frontal-facing figure. There may be elements of asymmetry to break up the piece, but the main structure is as straightforward as a Rothko or a Giacometti painting. I see the figure as subordinate to the painterly qualities – the marks, the drips, the colors, the textures – that I create.
I'm focusing on the details, attempting to capture the textures, the subtleties of reflecting light, and many of the things that we as people can relate to. I want the audience to form a relationship with my paintings through recollection of personal experiences — whether it is triggered by these details of the physical world, specific objects, or the people and their emotions. The viewer is meant to insert their own narrative. I like to think of the paintings as thread within the fabric that is our human coexistence. The more I can weave together, the more the audience can relate to my paintings.
I paint locals, friends, and heroes because they are a part of my own story. Sometimes, I use my artistic license to embellish the narrative and make the painting more exciting.
Reed White studied fine art at the U of M before receiving his BFA in illustration from College of Visual Arts in St Paul. Reed also received a Master of Arts degree in painting from MSU in Mankato, where he served as an adjunct faculty for the art department. Reed is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in 2018 and 2020.