ART PALETTE: Art, medicine and architecture: Part I

Richard Reid's Sun on her Back.

Richard Reid's Sun on her Back.

Excerpts from a lengthy and fascinating interview with artist Richard Reid by songwriter Dave Soroka.  Here Richard talks about his earliest beginnings as an artist.

Dave Soroka: Was there a point where either you realized you were a painter or you decided to be a painter?

Richard Reid: I’d have to think back a long time because it was when I was really quite young.

I do have one memory of something that happened that maybe triggered things and that was in school, probably grade seven or eight.

I was praised for my ability to draw and of course I never really thought about it, I just did it, you know.

DS: At that point, you weren’t thinking of yourself as an artist?

RR: Oh not at all. But, you know, you can draw, I mean everybody sort of did in school, in art classes or whatever.

But I had a fairly easy time of it I guess, in terms of drawing, and I think that praise actually made a difference in terms of  thinking about what it was that was being praised.

That little pat on the back, I think, does make a difference. There was an element of support from that point onwards that made it kind of evolve but I never thought of myself as being an artist, or painter, until much later, probably  in my 20s.

DS: You went to art school?

RR: Yes but prior to art school, a lot of coincidences happened.

I was in Manitoba and had an interest in getting into medicine strangely enough. This was before even thinking of making art.

But architecture also had a kind of interest for me.  So medicine, architecture; they seem pretty far apart in many ways but they were both attractive to me.

I discovered there was a great deal of math and engineering involved (in architecture) and that did not appeal to me. The old Winnipeg School of Art was taken over by the university that year (1950).

The term  art had never really come to my mind at that point in terms of a career but then architecture seemed not quite right.

But there was an element of commercial art that was also appealing in terms of a career and it was kind of related to art, architecture – this gets kind of convoluted because where does medicine fit into this?

DS: Medicine plus architecture – starts to sound like Frankenstein (laugh).

RR: In medicine, I became aware of a lot of anatomy studies and drawing.

DS: The human form is a big part of your art.

RR: Absolutely, has been ever since. Medicine had that element in it.

DS: Is that a conscious part of what you’re thinking about now when you make a painting?

RR:  Not the anatomy so much now as humanity. Humanity and the interrelation of the human condition.

To be continued . . .

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