A professional artist since 1970, Conrad was born in Poland in 1938 (to German parents) and raised and educated in Germany. Although he sketched and painted from an early age, family and economic pressure led him away from art to pursue a more "respectable profession".
In my family, painting was considered a hobby, not a profession.
Following high school, Conrad entered into a three year apprenticeship to learn the art of bookbinding and restoration of books. During that time, he participated in two nationwide bookbinding competitions. His work won him silver and gold respectively at the competitions. He undertook further studies at the Graphic Academy in Munich, graduating in 1963 with a Master Bookbinder certificate.
In 1965 Conrad immigrated to Canada, working for the first five years with a publishing house in Toronto, and in 1970, with his work meeting broad acclaim in Canada and abroad, he made the decision to abandon his "respectable profession" in favour of his art.
Today, he continues to paint. His work is meticulously detailed, yet always with a spiritual undercurrent that draws the viewer in, to become part of the scene — and part of the artist's feeling. He works in either watercolour, acrylic or egg-tempera, and although most of his work is done in his studio, he takes weekly breaks hiking in search of new subjects and new inspirations.
I need to get into things, the smell and feel of the shaded dampness where leaves have fallen, the sound of the wind or the quiet. When I'm back in my studio I try to put that feeling — or put myself — into the painting. I try to become what I am painting. The subject matter or the location of a particular painting could have been recorded a year ago or a week ago. That's not important, what's important is that I spend one day a week in the outdoors recharging myself. The "discharging" comes over the next six days in my studio.
For inspiration, Conrad draws primarily on the rural countryside of southern Ontario.
Here all four seasons are equally beautiful. I get excited by the changing moods of each season, by the separation of sun and shadow, by the shapes of discarded farm implements, by an animal stealthily observed from a distance, or the feeling of peaceful loneliness that bare trees impress me.
My favourite season is probably winter. I love the snow, the intense contrasts of the time, stormy skies, strong shadows, the contrast of earth and snow, and moodier feelings created by fog or mist.
Today Conrad's work is exhibited extensively at home and collected around the world. He works from his studio/home in Brampton, Ontario, and has raised his son Paul from the age of 19 months on his own since the death of his wife Deedee in a car accident in 1978.
Throughout all of his career and success, Conrad remained an unassuming, modest, and down to earth person. He enjoys most a hike in the country, the solitude of his work, or a quiet dinner in the company of family and/or some close friends. He is a deeply religious man, lives by himself and states:
I live at peace with myself and with the world around me, and I strive to keep it that way.