If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at Duke’s Diesel Repair, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
One of my (Anthony Crosby) fondest memories as a child was watching Bob Ross’ painting show, The Joy of Painting, with my grandpa throughout my stay at his home. The show was thirty minutes of peace and encouragement, and I remember being entranced by the fact that Bob could take a blank canvas and transform it into something, so jaw-dropping in mere moments. I’ll always treasure those memories, which is why I’m so excited to talk about the new local business we’re spotlighting this week!
On this Friday, we’re stopping by 524 Commercial St. to check out Clearly Nevada Art Gallery. Clearly is a new local studio that sells paintings and offers classes for anyone interested in learning how to paint like the great Bob Ross himself! These classes are held from 9 am-1 pm every Monday and Saturday, and private group classes are available!
Currently gearing up for their official grand opening on July 18th are the owners Leray and Patsy Reese! With around forty-years of Elko residency under their belts, this dynamic duo has been quite involved with the community for some time. They have owned local businesses and are even involved with The Elko County Art Club & Art in the Park: A Follow Up Conversation with Tess King. Now, Leray, as a certified instructor, is bringing The Joy of Painting to Elko!
Thank you both for joining us this week! This business is such an exciting addition to our community! Now, how did you become Bob Ross gurus in the first place?
Leray- I owned a tax and accounting business here in Elko before selling it in 2014. We planned on doing some other things after that, but I remember mentioning to Patsy that I wanted to paint! So, she got me a studio and the Bob Ross paints, but I didn’t do anything with them because of the fear factor. I had the paints for almost three years; I would take them out and look at them several times, but I didn’t have the confidence to do anything with them.
Patsy- In the Spring of 2017, we were in a Hobby Lobby in American Fork, Utah, when we saw a poster for a Bob Ross painting class, and I told him he should sign up for it! He agreed and finally signed up for the class…six months later!
Leray- It took me that long to get up the courage to do it.
Patsy- The night before the class, he was a mess! He was panicked and would say that he might as well not go! He went, and about halfway through the course, he sent us a picture of what he had done so far. We were shocked to see what he had done; it was great, and he was hooked! We went every month for the next six months until his instructor finally told him that he needed to be a certified instructor. So, we went to Florida for the official Bob Ross training. He spent three weeks of intensive training to become certified in landscape. January of the next year, we went back for his training to be certified as a floral instructor. Finally, we went back in May of that year for another three weeks for wildlife training. He’s certified in all three.
Leray- I started teaching classes at the college (Great Basin College). I was at the start of my second year of doing that when COVID happened and shut everything down.
That’s quite the story! Now, let’s talk about the fact that your studio teaches the Bob Ross technique. What exactly does that mean for those of us who may not know?
Leray- Many people know Bob Ross from the fact that he was on PBS for thirty-one years! YouTube now has all of his videos. Although he was not the inventor of it, the Bob Ross technique involves wet-on-wet oil painting in which the painter continues adding paint on top of still-wet paint rather than waiting a lengthy amount of time to allow each layer of paint to dry. Bob can do a painting in a half-hour, but the class we teach will generally take about four hours to complete.
Leray, what do you love most about both painting for yourself and teaching these techniques?
Leray- I love the miracle of seeing something happen on the canvas that I did not know I could do. Even though I have many paintings, I still look at them and wonder if I could ever do that again. The creation that’s being made comes from God’s hand, guiding my hand to make things look right. It’s a blessing that has been given to me, but it’s also the blessing that has been given to each one of us. Some may be a little more proficient with their techniques, but the methodology can be taught and learned.
Patsy- Most of the people that he’s taught have never painted before, and they come away with a painting that is beautiful!
Now, what would you say to someone who may be on the fence about taking one of your classes?
Leray- Cowboy up and do it! It took me six months to get the courage to do it, and because of that, I lost six months of the privilege of learning this. I panicked the night before because I was anticipating something that was not there. Don’t worry about what you think you can’t do, start taking a look at what you can do and go from there! There’s always going to be a fear, and if you’re waiting for the fear to stop, it’s never going to happen. You have to meet the fear and just do it. Taking the class is mentally and emotionally draining, but once you’ve done it, there’s an exhilaration that comes from seeing your painting completed with a frame on it!
Is there anything someone needs to keep in mind before showing up for a session?
Leray- Yes, wear clothes you’re not worried about getting paint on! You don’t wear a prom gown to do paintings! Also, bring baby wipes! We will do some finger painting along with our brushes. And finally, bring an attitude of learning. Show up, ready to be a sponge!
What’s your perspective on Elko’s relationship with the arts?
Leray- Elko, like other cities, wants a little diversity. Every household likes diversity in some manner. Some enjoy hunting, four-wheeling, music or the arts. This is why we have so many restaurants and theaters in Elko. What we what to focus on becomes the real question.
Patsy- Everybody has a creative desire. Some people cook, and others will make things, but everybody has a desire to create. I think this (painting) is a really important way for them to develop something without feeling like something didn’t work.
Wonderful! We thank you both for joining us this week! Before we let you return to your canvas, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Patsy- Anybody can do this! It’s a creative experience that’s rewarding because you will succeed! You will have something beautiful as soon as you finish the class.
Leray- Overcome the fears of your creative or non-creative desires. Overcome them by just being in attendance. Your painting may not be THE Mona Lisa, but it will be YOUR Mona Lisa. You’ll find your own greatness after your first time!
Every week Anthony sends me a business he has met with to do a little review on, and every week I am surprised by the little hidden gems in my hometown that I had absolutely no idea about!
I’ve grown up knowing about Bob Ross and his paintings, his calming demeanor, and the phrase “happy trees” floating around, but I never thought I could take a class like his! Now, I know that I can, and you could bet money that I will be dragging my mom along with me to a painting session. I’m no artist, but this kind of expression and technique draws me in. I also had no idea that people could become certified in this type of instruction, so to know that a neighbor of mine brought something like this with some courage and hard work is incredibly exciting! Thank you, Patsy, for convincing Leray to become certified and make our sweet little town a little bit brighter.
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See you around, Elko!