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Artist captures memories of farm life

Growing up on a Saskatchewan farm produced many fond recollections

Growing up on a farm provided artist Dan Reid with a bank of pleasant, nostalgic memories that he can now immortalize on canvas for present and future generations to appreciate.

Reid’s parents owned a mixed farm near Crystal Springs, northeast of Wakaw, Saskatchewan. Some of his fondest recollections as a youngster are travelling to school on a steam train, riding up front with the engineer, and shovelling coal.

Unfortunately, diesel engines replaced the steam trains shortly after. However, the memories would eventually become the subject for many of his oil paintings.

It wasn’t until he was married and working as an electrical engineer in Winnipeg in the early ’70s that Reid began dabbling in art. At the time, his paintings included farm scenes like horses and wagons, and grain elevators — the icon of the Prairies.

His first opportunity to get into marketing came when a family friend, who owned a gas bar and restaurant, offered to display his paintings. That brought exposure and recognition and gave him the confidence to forge ahead.

In 1980, the family moved to Saskatoon. By this time, Reid was very involved in the arts and crafts community across Western Canada and his paintings were in galleries in Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary. “I wasn’t yet involved in the reproduction side of it, so I was pumping out originals like crazy, and people were getting them for a pretty good price,” he says.

When Reid became manager of the engineering company he was with, the added work responsibilities combined with those of a growing family prompted him to put his art on hold temporarily.

In 2003 — 20 years later — Reid picked up his brushes again. “I wondered if I could still paint after such a long time,” he said, “but turns out it’s similar to riding a bicycle. In fact, I found I was doing better than when I quit because I’d learned to focus.”

Today, many of his paintings concentrate on hot rods and scenes with rusted old cars, and his hobby of rebuilding and restoring old cars dates back to his youth.

“There’s nothing like coming across an old piece of junk out in the bush just waiting to be rescued. I see the potential,” he said.

Reid enjoys doing commissions, which make up between 60 and 70 per cent of his work. “I like talking to customers, getting the idea and interpreting their words into a sketch. Once I get their approval, I’ll proceed with the painting. Very rarely do we make any changes,” he adds.

Reid appreciates the help and support of his wife Jean, who takes care of the bookwork, looks after some of the business matters and helps with many of the shows. He attends about 12 shows a year, mostly in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and they include a combination of art, model train, and car shows. With a loyal following, collectors come to these events to see what’s new.

“The car and model train shows are a great place to connect with people who want custom work done. Quite often when I do a painting of their favourite old car I’ll put it in a scene that relates to them — maybe their grandparents’ old barn, or garage,” he said.

Reid now paints full time and his work is available in Saskatoon at Art Preserve, 2301 Millar Avenue. For more information about upcoming shows and galleries carrying Dan Reid’s work, visit www.danreidartwork.com.

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