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Bob Ross-certified instructor LeRay Reese discusses techniques he uses to help students master the medium.
LeRay Reese stands next to a cardboard figure of his idol, Bob Ross.
Clearly Nevada Art Gallery displays a number of paintings for sale.
ELKO – LeRay Reese has been my accountant for years. Now, even though we still sit down and discuss digits and the “dreaded” April 15, we have a new topic – art.
Reese became a certified Bob Ross painting instructor in 2018. His passion for paint has led him to open his own studio.
“My mother-in-law and I would sit down and watch Bob Ross on PBS,” said Reese. “This has been about 53 years ago. I always wanted to
paint like Bob, but it fell away and I didn’t see the shows anymore.”
When Reese was 50 years old, he made a crayon drawing while in the hospital. He vowed he would never become a painter. The “less than magnificent” piece still hangs on the wall of the studio, acting as a reminder that all things are possible.
In 2017, Reese learned Hobby Lobby near Salt Lake City was offering Bob Ross classes.
“I wrote down the number and it took me six months to get the courage to register,” he said. “The day before the class I about canceled. I couldn’t sleep that night. The next day I did my first painting and halfway through it I was totally in awe.”
Reese continued to travel to Utah for a year where he took two classes each month. After six months his teacher, Peggy Baird, said he needed to become an instructor.
He decided to take it up and spent three weeks in Florida with a national instructor where they worked on landscape painting techniques.
“In that three weeks we did 21 paintings,” Reese said.
He received his certification in August of 2018 from the Bob Ross School of Painting. He went on to later become certified in floral and wildlife painting.
The studio can seat six students, each with their own easel and painting tools.
Reese started teaching Bob Ross painting classes through
Great Basin College. He was just beginning his second year when COVID-19 hit.
Reese owns the recently remodeled building located at 524 Commercial St. He outfitted some of the rooms to function as an art gallery where he shows his and several other artists’ work. The front of the building has been converted into a classroom where his first privately taught class is scheduled June 1.
Classes will be held on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost for a landscape class starts at $95. This includes all of the materials and step-by-step, personalized instruction. The class size is limited to six due to social distancing rules, but Reese hopes to expand classes to 10 students over time.
Reese will be teaching floral and wildlife classes soon.
“Most people [in the college classes] say they enjoyed me as an instructor, that I was happy, helpful and teaching them to be able to correct the mistakes they made,” Reese said. “It was wonderful.”
Elko murals: Where to find them:
Bryce Chisolm works with every color of the rainbow. This partial section of a mural painted on Living Stones Church at 172 Fifth St. portrays Nevada's Basque culture.
Blue Jay Blues
Justin Johnson created two permanent art installations in the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets. He painted this one on the back side of Cowboys bar.
Emily Montoya is a local artist who loves bright colors. Her interacting jackrabbits can be found on Roy's Market.
Jennifer Charboneau led a community-oriented project in the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets. Passersby dabbed their thumbs in paint to form this mountain landscape.
Bing Crosby Mural
The Elko Mural Expo was my all time favorite event of the year. With so much color and activity it was a photographer's dream. All of the murals made great subjects, but I liked this one best because of the colors and its graphic look. Mallori Renee painted the lifelike image of Bing Crosby, honorary mayor of Elko, on a wall at Roy's Market.
Dagger and Rose
Phil Nichols created this "sketch" on Roy's Market.
These fanciful flowers cheer Idaho Street drivers and pedestrians. Kela Downs created this "punchy palette."
Simon Vibart, an Argentinian artist, composed a colorful, abstract panel on the Thunderbird Motel located at 345 Idaho St.
This rainbow caterpillar is a happy surprise in a dark alleyway. The entire alley between Idaho and Railroad streets is covered in colorful artwork.
Feathers on a red background are a bright surprise on the north side of Roy's Market.
Cacaphony of Color
This was a spontaneous mural that appeared on the Idaho Street side of the Thunderbird Motel located at 345 Idaho St.
Muralist Sebas Velasco, from the Basque region in Spain, created this life-like painting on Vogue Services. The image portrays a number of Basque locals that Velasco met during his visit to Elko.
Bryce Chisolm is responsible for many colorful murals in Nevada. This one is on Roy's Market.
"Handsome Hernan" painted this desert scene on Blach Distributing Co. at 131 W. Main St.
Angie Terrell traveled from Reno to paint this mural on the side of Roy's Market.
Leslie King and Danielle Murphy painted "phases of the moon" accompanied by sage advice. This mural is on the east side of the Thunderbird Motel at 345 Idaho St.
Rachel Pittario is an Elko artist who paints life-like wildlife images. This one resides on Roy's Market.
Thunderbird Motel employees painted this Hindu symbol on the side of the building during the Elko Mural Expo. The motel is located at 345 Idaho St.
Jake and Dale Slingland are the masters of this image located on the south side of Roy's Market.
Erik Burke painted a likeness of Catherine Wines, who is the chair of the Elko Arts and Culture Advisory Board. The board worked with Art Spot Reno to bring about the Elko Mural Expo.
Dreaming of the West
Stefane Cellier chose a simple palette for his western scene on Vogue Services.
A giant grouse greets visitors in the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets.
Edgar Garcia summed it up in one word, "hope." Garcia painted the mural in the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets.
Local artist Gina Holmberg depicted an Indian relay scene on Roy's Market.
Elkoan Brent Johnson worked for several days on the side of Ruby Mountain Pawn at 185 10th St. Johnson was also the artist for the Elko County Fairgrounds mural that is painted on the Cedar Street retaining wall.
Colene Paradise and her Owyhee students worked on this piece with Native pride. This mural is on the back of the former Diana's building in the alley between Idaho and railroad streets.
Art Spot Reno co-owner Eric Brooks began this mural on Jet Coin Laundry during the festival. The mural will be completed in November.
Orb and Tentacles
Jamie Darragh drew this whimsical picture of squid-like tentacles surrounding a "sun." The mural is located at 410 Idaho St.
Artist Angie Terrell depicted our state boldly in black and white on Roy's market.
Jennifer Charboneau describes herself as a "visual philosopher." Charboneau is also a live events painter in the Reno area.
Bill Louis enjoys making art that represents his Polynesian heritage. This one is located on the north side of Roy's Market.
Vaka portrayed a Hispanic doll holding a bouquet of flowers on Blach Distributing Co. The building is located at 131 W. Main St..
Locals Asia and Colton May painted a rainy day scene on the side of Roy's Market.
Anthony Ortega relies on imagery connected to his Latin American heritage. He dreamed about this mural before coming to Elko. It is located on the corner lot between Idaho and Fifth streets.
Artist Nathaniel Benjamin created an extensive mural on the Carlin Trend Building in the alley between Idaho and railroad streets. Benjamin's use of primary colors make the fantasy scene "pop."
Artist Erik Burke created the largest mural during the Elko Mural Expo. This painting takes up the entire south wall of the Stockmen's Casino.
Erik Burke created the first mural for the Elko Mural Expo over a year ago on the side of Ogi Deli at 460 Commercial St. It served as a pleasant reminder of what was soon to come.
Joe C. Rock is known for his railroad-related murals. He completed this on the north wall of Roy's Market.
Moose on the Loose
The bull moose wades through an imaginary lake. Justin Johnson brought the creature to life on a brick wall in the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets.
This painted Polynesian woman wears a hibiscus in her hair. Bill Louis provided the imagination and elbow grease. Stroll down the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets to see this beauty.
Dr. Chip Thomas applied large, black and white photographs to the side of the old Diana's building on the Fourth Street side.
Dale Slingland painted this tortoise on Roy's Market at 560 Idaho St.
Ernie Upton painted the "new sheriff in town." His vision of "the West' can be found on Blach Distributing Co. at 131 W. Main St.
Katy Ann Fox painted this night landscape on the south side of Roy's Market.
Railway Right of Way
Joe C. Rock is well known for his artistic depictions of railroad subjects. He painted this image on the Ormaza Building at 225 Silver St.
Mike Lucido, from Reno, painted this humorous T-Rex on the side of Blach Distributing Co. at 131 W. Main St.
Spring Creek painter and art teacher Gina Holmberg left her mark on Roy's Market.
Turquoise, ochre and white present a softened look. Jamie Darragh makes a full-time living using her artistic skills. This mural can be seen on the old Diana's building on the Idaho Street side.
The Western Frontier
Reno artist Matt McDowell painted a memory form a cartoon he saw about the West when he was younger. Look for this work of art on the Thunderbird Motel at 345 Idaho St.
In this mural an antelope and a magpie fill the canvas. Elkoan Rachel Pittario was selected to paint on Roy's Market.
Painted by Spring Creek artist, Simone Marie Turner, these flowers are an ode to both Vincent Van Gogh and the late Sarah Sweetwater. Sweetwater was an artist, art teacher and local inspiration for many creative endeavors. You can find this mural on the south wall of Roy's Market.
Kristen Nichols painted this interpretive sunset on Roy's Market.
Words of Wisdom
Teacher Heather Wines and her pupils from Sage Elementary came up with this selection of one-word inspirations. Take a walk down the alley between Idaho and Railroad streets to view this rainbow rendition.
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