It’s not the normal process to go from running a tax preparation and bookkeeping firm to running an art gallery and teaching painting classes, but LeRay and Patsy Reese embrace their “happy little contradiction,” as beloved painter Bob Ross might say.
They opened Clearly Nevada Art Gallery in Elko’s historic downtown in the depths of the COVID-19 quarantine May 24, 2020. The prospect of opening a new business during a shut down is also not typical, but LeRay and Patsy trust they can engage with students and customers willing to try something new and allow for whatever is created from that collaboration.
For all his enthusiasm now about painting, LeRay was reluctant at first. Patsy bought him painting supplies and he let them sit for three years. “I just didn’t have the confidence. I thought I would make mistakes and it would be a mess. I couldn’t have been more wrong!”
He embarked on a year of Bob Ross painting classes in Utah in 2017. His instructor encouraged him to become a Certified Instructor, so in August of 2018, he earned a certification to teach landscape painting. He kept at it in 2019 and can now teach floral and wildlife as well.
“I am loving what I do,” LeRay said. “Having the ability to help others see what they are capable of is so wonderful. I taught people who have never painted before, and they can take home a beautiful painting after just three to five hours. Each time you take a class and practice painting, you get a new feeling of wonder for what you have accomplished.”
“We had to sort out how to do this with coronavirus safety concerns,” Patsy reflected, “so class size is just five or six people. It works because students can try it, feel success, then bring their friends back to the studio later.”
Classes run from 9 AM until 1 or 2 PM. In September, classes are scheduled Monday and Saturday, and will switch to Tuesday and Saturday through October. Special event classes for small groups can be scheduled, too.
The Bob Ross method, taught at Clearly Nevada, focuses on natural settings, which are already soothing. The technique, “wet-on-wet” layers new wet paint over other wet layers, provides an extra layer of forgiveness.
Made popular by Bob Ross in his 1980’s TV show The Joy of Painting, the wet-on-wet technique dates back to 15th Century Flemish masters. The Italians called it “alla prima,” meaning “first attempt.” Bob Ross embodied the idea of accepting and incorporating mistakes into his paintings and personified self-acceptance with his folksy, easy-going style. In response to a viewer’s 1998 letter asking why he always seemed happy, Bob said, “That’s why I paint. I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.”
Can painting truly be the secret to happiness? The technique taught at Clearly Nevada is simple and fast, which makes it immediately gratifying. The permission to go where the paint takes you, convert flubs into birds in the sky, or change the path of a stream or height of a mountain to suit you is empowering.
LeRay even looks at opening the Gallery through his Bob Ross lenses. He was teaching classes at Great Basin College until COVID struck. “Even though it was disappointing, not teaching there opened another door. I was inspired to open the Clearly Nevada Art Gallery in downtown Elko.”
The Gallery also has on display the work of other artists:
- Brady Nielson works in acrylic and is displaying five pieces from landscapes to wildlife, to inspirational works, to patriotic pieces.
- Ken Lovell, a photographic artist, shows beautiful nighttime cityscapes, sunrises, sunsets, portraits.
- Linda Roberts works in oils, has three pieces featuring the American West and Western lifestyle.
- Sharon Rigby, a new artist using a technique called acrylic pouring, is displaying a variety of fantastic abstracts in brilliant colors and patterns in a variety of sizes.
Clearly Nevada Art Gallery will spotlight the work of one artist monthly as a Featured Artist. During their feature, visitors will also find more of their works and products than would usually be displayed, and a special discount on their work. All artist’s work is available for sale at the gallery and is changing all the time so visit the Gallery often.
Students can register for classes at www.clearlynevadapro.com. To schedule your next special event, call LeRay or Patsy at 775-778-6767.
Clearly Nevada Art Gallery
524 Commercial Street
Elko, NV 89801