Saying Goodbye to a Master

Charles Reid has long been considered a master of the medium of watercolor. His paintings are fresh and spontaneous, displaying his profound understanding of light and color and expert drawing ability. The viewer is immediately drawn into his rich compositions. His figures are beautifully rendered, in a simple, direct and natural, gestural manner that reveals his interest in painting the light as much as the person.

Reid was born in Cambridge, New York, and studied art at the University of Vermont and the Art Students League of New York. He won numerous awards, including the Childe Hassam Purchase Prize at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Academy of Design and the American Watercolor Society. In 1980 he was elected to the National Academy of Design. Public collections of his work include Smith College, Yellowstone Art Center, Brigham Young College, Roche Corporation, and the National Academy of Design. In addition to painting, Reid teaches workshops around the world. He wrote 11 books on painting in watercolor and oil. Awards also include a Purchase Award from Shanghai International Biennial Exhibition in 2013 and a Gold Medal from the Portrait Society of America in 2013.

He passed away on June 1, 2019.

Watercolor Paintings by Charles Reid

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


  1. Whenever I think of Charles REID…I think of CADMIUM RED! He encouraged me to add this brilliant red to my palette…to get out of my comfort zone…to loosen up! His passing is like missing a brilliant color from our palette of life…RIP, CHARLES,

  2. His workshop at Ringling was one of the best I’ve taken. The art world will be dulled without his spontaneous colors ~ a truly gifted artist.

  3. Descansa en paz profesor, un libro que compré hace años (El Libro de la Expresión Artística) es hoy mi libro más preciado de consultas de todos los que tengo en mi biblioteca de arte.

  4. At his Coastal Maine workshop last fall, he was suffering the ravages of illness and advanced age, but still, he was a superb teacher and brought out the best in me. My heart goes out to his family and to all the many followers who revere him.
    Goulart, M.D.

    • I’ll always be grateful that Charles was able to come to Maine last year; having him teach for Coastal Maine Art Workshops was a longtime wish and I can only guess at the effort he and Judy made to do that class…his teaching was still spot on and we we were most fortunate… He will be much missed…a master of magic…

  5. I waited over a decade to be able to attend a workshop by Charles Reid. Finally my chance came in 2007 in Bend, Oregon. What a wonderful week! I brought all my books that he wrote and he graciously signed each and every one. I have notes from that workshop posted all over my studio for encouragement, advice, and courage. We will miss him.

  6. Charles Reid was one of my earliest inspirations. I studied his painting on the back of a magazine so many times, yearning to find my own beautiful loose style. We never met, but I consider him a mentor.

  7. Charles Reid taught two workshops in Little Rock, Arkansas at least 40 years ago for Mid-Southern Watercolorists. Since I was relatively new to watercolor at that time, I was thrilled to be learning from such a master. His ease of teaching helped a nervous young student learn so much and it was a joy to see how he applied paint and made figures come to life.

    Thanks to Charles Reid’s family for sharing him for so many years. My condolences to all who loved him.

  8. Watching Charles Reid do a contour drawing was amazing. His books were my introduction to watercolor. For me watercolor means Charles Reid.

  9. I took a workshop with Charles Reid many years ago, in Northern Idaho. It was fabulous. He was a fantastic instructor and knew how to convey a clear message to the participants.
    Unique in his manner of handling watercolor. Incredible loss to the entire art community in the US and beyond. He signed a book I brought with me and wrote : “simplify the face”

  10. Charles was an incredibly gifted & accomplished painter. His contour drawing connected shapes and gave organic life to his compositions. He knew exactly where to emphasize the light in his paintings and where to lose edges and merge shapes. He was a good teacher, able to demonstrate and convey these concepts. Aside from his immense talent, he was humble and just a great guy.

  11. I had five of Charles Reid workshops all in Florida. I mentioned to Judy that Charles was a superb teacher to which she shook her head. “ He is more
    Concerned with being a great artist.” We are all confirming that he famously brilliant as a painter.
    I hear his voice when I paint.


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