An "I wish" statement issued a challenge James Reeves, a Longmont-based painter, had to meet. Reeves was working with people in a residential treatment program when the challenge came.
"I have my master's degree in counseling. Around 30 years ago, I spent some time working with a client in a residential program who was an artist. He was outside on the front porch drawing the house across the street from where the program was. I looked at him and said, 'Man, I always wished I could draw like that.' He said, 'Just start,'" and so he did, Reeves said.
Reeves considers himself a colorist painter. Colorists emphasize the relationships between colors in a work and may create intense/vivid colors in the process.
He puts it this way: "Color adds life."
Reeves's mentor, Chuck Ceraso, lives in Lafayette and emphasizes vibrant colors in his work. That's what brought Reeves to this painting style.
"I'm called to it because it seems that when taking a picture, you can't get the vibrancy of the color that you can in a painting," Reeves said.
It's not simply the vibrancy of the color that draws Reeves to the style. It is also a spiritual exercise for him. He's particularly inspired by nature.
"There's a strong spiritual side on my end. There's a lot that happens with trees and nature and with what I see. I pull out what's inside. I ask myself, 'what's the spirit of the tree and animal?'" Reeves stated.
Wolves, in particular, call his attention due to attributes he admires but hasn't always experienced.
"Wolves represent important traits like bonding, connection to family and loyalty. Things I didn't personally experience in my life growing up. I admire that quality, that connection, that spirit," Reeves shared.
That interest and connection brought him together with the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project.
"There was a bill in 2020 about returning wolves to the mountains. I had an opportunity and privilege to create an art piece for it in Longmont," he said. "I did a 30 in. x 40 in. oil painting that I was able to display at Old Town Marketplace for about a month just before the election. It served to remind people, as they walked by, of the election coming up. "
That piece came down when that election ended. However, he's onto new art and new adventures. In September, Reeves will join a group walking The Camino de Santiago in Spain for several days.
Reeves had some knowledge of the walk at Camino de Santiago many years ago, but it was a Martin Sheen movie, "The Way," that highlighted the excitement and importance of the walk for him.
"When I saw it, I thought, 'Oh wow, that looks so cool!' Then, I started reading about artists who did a lot of art along the way," Reeves said.
The trip itself isn’t the only inspiration for Reeves who said Sharon Bamber — a plein-air artist — walked 1,000 miles and did 200 paintings of Camino. The experience took her nine months because she stopped every five miles to paint.
Reeves doesn't plan to walk quite so many miles, but is planning to create plenty of art.
"I'm taking my sketchbook, and creating watercolors and renderings along the way. I will probably do some other paintings when I get home. This trip's been on the bucket list for years. So, now we get to go," Reeves said. "It's a matter of creativity. It's not meant to be arduous. It is meant to be enjoyable. So, get some self-expression going."