Laura Reilly is one of 3 local artists in my gallery and is well known and loved in the Pikes Peak region for light,, bright and beautifully painted landscapes and flowers. I spent an afternoon in her charming “horse Alley” gallery and studio in Old Colorado City recently so I could share with you some more about Laura!
As a child, Laura always drew and painted, but never thought that it was something she could do for a living. She grew up in Phoenix, AZ unaware of art and thought it was something you looked at from behind velvet ropes at museums. However, she took every art class she could and her parents supplied her with art supplies and took her to classes and museums to satisfy her desires. In high school, her art teacher was a big influence. She was a professional artist and writer who had galleries and shows and who mentored young Laura by encouraging her and taking her to workshops and programs at local art museums.
After high school, Laura attended Phoenix Community College because her parents were concerned about her making a living in the arts.She married Jack Reilly at the age of 21 and moved to Colorado Springs where they started a family and Laura started a job working at the county courthouse. For a while she quit doing her art because the obligations of her job, raising a family etc… But the desire remained strong and she painted many times at night after the family went to bed, but it was exhausting. After 6 years at the courthouse, she tried her hand at owning her own home cleaning business and says now that it taught her good skills that she has been able to use in her art business now. Other jobs Laura did include working as a framer and even in a clean room making micro-circuitry for NCR, which she says was intellectually stimulating, but still, the pull of art was so strong. So she went to part time jobs and built her career gradually and now has been a full time working artist for the past twenty years.
For the first ten years she painted in watercolors and then a friend suggested she try oils and left a pile of supplies on her front porch for her. Taking that as a sign, she ventured into Ute Valley Park and painted her first plein air oil there and fell in love with the buttery strokes the oil provided. Recently, she switched to acrylics due to some health concerns. This has taken her work in a whole new direction as her palette and big brushstrokes can attest. Laura says she loves the immediacy and quick drying time of the medium. Most collectors can’t even tell the difference as well!
Laura says that in the past plein air was an important process, she could start and finish a painting on site. But now she says it serves more to absorb the the influences of the natural world and it makes her a better studio painter. Direct observation and gathering of materials such as sketches rather than always looking at a photo to paint from influences her work more these days.
Her goals and aspirations for the next 10 years is to continue painting in Colorado Springs and to maintain being a locals favorite. Her career grew here and the support has been phenomenal. She’d also like to extend beyond Colorado and paint more places of beauty in the West. She would like to be in more corporate collections as well as get into museum shows and grow her collectors both nationally and internationally. And of course, to keep evolving as an artist to keep those collectors of 30 years coming back. Here is a list of some of companies that have Laura in their permanent collections:
Mercedes Benz of Colorado Springs, Kaiser Permanente, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum, Vail Regional Medical Center and Memorial Hospital.