Red Deer College film instructors Larry Reese and James Wilson are finishing up production of an up-close examination of the mysteries of the creative process.
The film will be screened Oct. 28 at the Red Deer College Arts Centre. Reese an accomplished artist in his own right, has been working with Wilson on the documentary for the past several months.
They’ve interviewed a number of artists, plus the film will follow Reese’s own creative journey as he produced three stunning paintings during that period as well.
One of them, the vibrant and beautifully-rendered Guardians of the Sleeping Duck, was recently mounted at RDC in the Centre for Visual Art. The painting’s formation is the thread that will run through the documentary as well.
Last year, Reese featured an exhibit of exquisite examples of his work at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery called Mapping Creativity – a Journey of Transformations. The documentary was well underway at the time, and included shots from that event. It was also meant to be relatively brief – perhaps 22 minutes or so.
But as Wilson and Reese chatted with acclaimed artists from musicians to visual masters, it became clear the project had to be longer. They expect the finished work to clock in at about 70 minutes.
“When we really got into doing the film, a whole new world opened up,” explains Reese. “We took the time to do the project more thoroughly, and we found we were able to arrange a number of interviews with some prominent Alberta creative souls.” These include Jean Grand-Maître, the artistic director of Alberta Ballet and renowned jazz saxophonist P.J. Perry.
Reese also learned much about creativity and theories that surround it.
“I learned there are five levels of creativity, the first being the natural need to perform or express. The second level is more of the technical and academic level where you are trained. You learn the skills and techniques.
“The third level is about finding the time to experiment, and the fourth level is that of innovation. The fifth level is that of genius.
“What I learned is that really it’s the second level that separates the truly dedicated from the rest of us who like to think we are artists,” he chuckles. It’s the intensive study of a given medium that will broaden the likelihood a person can advance to the next level.
The mystery of creativity also seems to spring from the depths of memory and experience and meaningful combinations thereof. Of course there is much that can’t be explained — intangible shots of inspiration that fuel the imagination and touch audiences in unexplained ways.
Obviously Reese, 59, is tremendously gifted at his craft. When viewers see Guardians of the Sleeping Duck for example, they will be mesmerized by the painting capturing the beauty of a natural spot near Caroline. He painted it in the RDC studio while on sabbatical last year.
“They placed me in a room with all the first and second year painting students. They would come by and make comments, and were hugely inspirational. They were honest, and sometimes brutally honest,” he adds with a laugh.
He also credits Mayor Morris Flewwelling for pointing out the perfect spot for the piece, and is grateful for the support he received from Flewwelling overall. “He is such a strong supporter of the arts,” explains Reese.
“This is the first time I’ve had a significantly large painting hung in a public viewing space permanently.” He’s also on the lookout for ‘homes’ for the other two six ft. by nine ft. paintings that he created along with Guardians of the Sleeping Duck.
Needless to say, seeing the painting mounted at the college indeed marks a personal milestone for Reese. “It’s a dream come true.”