My Story

nk reedsFirst breaths of life as an artist: I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1952, and raised in Bucks County with my four sisters. One of my earliest memories was watching our artist father handle a shimmering leaf of gold while carefully detailing the Byzantine icons he had hand-painted on hollowed eggs, gifts for the grandparents at Easter. Those small gilded mysteries, and our many visits to Philadelphia’s great museums in my youth, left a deep impression on my artistic vision.

Experience: I acquired a wide range of skills while working in creative environments over many years: I designed, lettered, carved and band-sawed signs at a city sign shop; I routed, sanded and did the finish work on custom cabinetry and designed picture frames while working at an artist-owned fine woodworking shop; painted architectural models to exacting standards while working in the wildly inventive studio of Michael Graves Architect; hand-painted many a decorative finish on furniture and objects for Philip Petrino Interior Design. All of these experiences proved invaluable to my artistic expression. 

Bamboo and Wood Mosaic: In the 1990s, I began to develop my mosaic technique. I hoarded discarded scraps of walnut, cherry, poplar, and plywood and spent countless pleasant hours at the bandsaw cutting hundreds of shapes from these natural, painted, dyed or gilded pieces. These early efforts resulted in colorful figurative mosaics that were stylistic portraits, incorporating gold leaf and other decorative elements of Byzantine art. This mosaic is from that period, Moonlight Swim.

Later, with the introduction of bamboo into my palette in 2010, these figurative works gradually evolved into semi-abstraction. When I split open a piece of bamboo for the first time, I immediately sensed the thrilling creative possibilities of this elegant natural material! Since then, I’ve discovered the wondrous versatility of a single pole of bamboo. It can be cut in countless ways, resulting in a mosaic of wildly varying components involving strips, strands, bands, squares, rings and ovals. The stages from rough-cut bamboo to finished tesserae require much hand-tooling and sanding, with each piece of the composition treated as a sculptural element in itself. I’m after a “refined, not perfect” quality to my work, with some tool marks desirable, a reminder of the artist’s hand at work. The work below is all bamboo, Passing Through.

Painting: I’ve long been immersed in a theme involving the profound and timeless beauty in ordinary objects of the natural world. By using beach stones, bamboo, seedpods, bones, and seashells I’ve explored abstract ideas like peace, harmony, and patience – and have discovered a very personal iconography. The clear sphere that I often insert into these compositions represents an observer, of interior or exterior worlds. This extensive and ongoing Meditations series started with just a few beach stones I collected from the shores of Findhorn, Scotland in 1996. This painting below is titled Moonlit.

Silverpoint: A silverpoint drawing is made with a piece of silver wire on a specially coated surface.

These are some of the silverpoint holders I made from different kinds of wood; the metal drawing stylus is inserted in these. 

The lines of a silverpoint drawing will oxidize over time, acquiring the characteristic sepia tone of tarnished silver. (Metalpoint encompasses any metals that could be used in drawing: copper, silver, gold, platinum, etc. Drawings made with these would be known as: copperpoint, goldpoint, etc.)  I became interested in this centuries-old Renaissance-era drawing medium in the 1980s and have been at it ever since. Back then, I prepared panels with traditional formulas, and practiced by copying from paintings of the Old Masters: Durer, daVinci, Vermeer, and Velasquez, to name a few. I enjoy using this meditative medium for quiet explorations of strange and beautiful objects, such as intertwined vines, varieties of seedpods and seashells, and flower and tree studies. Safe is the title of this silverpoint drawing on prepared paper.

Whereabouts: My home studio is in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where I’ve lived for over 30 years. My art is in many private collections throughout the USA and abroad. I write in depth about my work on my blog: The Art Fly and regularly post new work or works-in-progress on Instagram at: I also regularly post new silverpoint drawings with the Facebook groups: Silverpoint and Metalpoint Artists, and Silverpoint Artists.