134  ·  Representative Documents:  Art Collection Descriptions
Oklahoma State University
Guide to the Doel Reed Aquatints Records
Gift of Martha Reed
Reference Code
Local Identifier: 1999-296
Repository Identifier: OkS
Country Identifier: US
Biographical Note
Doel Reed formalized and chaired the Art Department at Oklahoma A & M College starting in
1924 until his retirement from the position in 1959. He became nationally recognized as a
modern master of aquatint, a unique form of engraving that uses an acid biting process to create
fields of shading instead of using hatching or stippling.
Doel Reed, N. A. was born May 21, 1894 in Logansport, Indiana. Shortly after he moved
to Indianapolis where he would spend the years of his youth. As a young man, Reed
attended Saturday drawing classes at the John Herron Art Museum in Indianapolis; here
he developed his tastes for and in art as well as his interest in its pursuit. One of the
figures from the museum that strongly influenced his work was the famous painter and
engraver Francisco Goya. Goya inspired the strong contrasts that exist in Reed’s own
work. Reed also found inspiration from more contemporary artists such as Laura
Knight’s “beautifully designed plates” (from the preface of Doel Reed Makes An
Aquatint), Arthur Davis, Earl Horter, and Emil Ganso all of whom he mentions in the
preface of Doel Reed Makes An Aquatint.
After high school Reed took an apprenticeship to an architect for four years before
enrolling at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Here Reed discovered graphic design, the
area in which he would make his name in aquatinting. After being enrolled at the Art
Academy of Cincinnati for 1916 and 1917, Reed volunteered for service in World War I.
Gas blinded Reed while he fought with the 47th Infantry in the U.S. Army, and his
injuries hospitalized him for year. On his recovery he returned to the Art Academy
where he discovered his interest in graphics. Since very few schools specialized in or
taught graphics, Reed taught himself. His work in oils and caseins helped establish him;
his aquatints, though, made him famous.
Reed married in 1920 and made his first etching for the birth announcement of his
daughter. An associate, Joseph Henry Sharp, had told him about the “boundless beauty
of the Southwest,” and reed moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma where he chaired the art
department at Oklahoma State University from 1924 until retiring to Talpa, New Mexico
in 1959. While at Oklahoma State, the National Academy of Design elected him to an
Associate membership position, and in 1952 he achieved full Academician status. Talpa,
the surrounding pueblos, and countryside of the Taos area had served as the subjects of
many of the sketches he turned into prints during his time in Stillwater. He visited New
Mexico and Arizona often on the advice of his associates and friends. It was his practice
to sketch in the field, to set down the mood as quickly as possible, and then finish the
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