Prairie Pond, a painting by Larry Reese, from the Four Seasons exhibit, opening Sept. 1 at the white gallery in Sunworks. (Contributed photo).

For Central Alberta painter Larry Reese, home is where his art is

Reese finds the universality in our local environment

Larry Reese considers himself a Central Alberta painter, since he routinely depicts landscapes within a small radius of his Half Moon Bay home.

Taking a page from the philosophy of the great Spanish artist Joan Miro, Reese believes that “the more local I become, the more universal I am.” Therefore, the natural splendor at his own (and our own) doorstep is the focus of his latest show, The Four Seasons, which opens on Friday, Sept. 1 at the white gallery in Sunworks.

Reese’s love of local environment is evident in these 20-some oil paintings of forests, skies and plains, which he’s rendered in a variety of styles, ranging from detailed realism to more open expressionism.

Entrance to Sundown, which shows a sunbeam glinting off a tree trunk, is among his more bold, graphic pieces. Snow and sky are shown in flat gradations that mirror the wood grain of the birch panel he painted on.

Reese said he likes to experiment because “I don’t want to rest on something that I know. I would rather see what else I can do.”

Before retiring from acting and film instructing at Red Deer College in June, Reese’s ‘something else’ used to be painting. But rather than continuing to create art only in his off-hours, he decided to shift all his energies to his passion for painting. And he hasn’t wasted any time, creating three-quarters of the works in this exhibit in the past year.

Most of his finished canvases started out as plein air sketches, done on the spot as Reese hurries to capture light effects before they are transformed by cloud cover, or waning daylight. A sketch for The Beaver Dam is included in the exhibit, along with the finished work, because Reese feels it’s interesting for viewers to see his decision-making process — what he opted to edit out, what he emphasized.

The artist figures he started connecting with nature in his 30s, after he had his children, when “everything became more profound… The meaning of life became more important — the idea that, however infinitesimal we are in this world, we are still in this world, and that something about being in this world is compelling to examine.”

Reese, who studied art in evening courses at Red Deer College and exhibits at the Main Gallery in Lacombe, was drawn to picture-making ever since he was among a handful of Grade 4 students from his Edmonton school chosen to take art classes at the Alberta Art Gallery.

He believes it’s the way that light hits objects that captures his fancy. His focus is usually on Central Alberta “because that’s my home, where my voice is.”

The Four Seasons exhibit runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30. There’s an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8.

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