Larry Riley’s oils among the works spotlighted at Hoffman’s Fine Art |

Larry Riley’s oils among the works spotlighted at Hoffman’s Fine Art

Event includes Fisher and Swanson paintings

Larry Riley, a visual artist who lives in Cave Creek, Arizona, is looking forward to showing his works to art lovers in Park City and Summit County.

The oil painter, who was once a dentist, has his works on exhibit along with works by nature artists Cynthie Fisher and the late Gary Swanson at Hoffman's Exotics and Fine Art.

The gallery, 4207 N. Forestdale Drive, Suite B, will host an exhibit opening from 5-8:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, said owner Don Hoffman.

"We are also going to have live music by pianist Kelly Gibson and a showcase of a exotic cars presented by Ferrari and Maserati of Salt Lake City," Hoffman said. "But if the weather is bad, we won't have the cars."

Riley, who is known for his American Indian subjects, has always loved to paint, but wanted to be a dentist.

"I went to school and graduated and started dental practice for nine years but got to a point where I didn't like doing general dentistry," said Riley, who also has a degree in zoology. "So I went back to school in Oregon to become an orthodontist."

Recommended Stories For You

All the while, he painted on the side.

"When I was in high school, I got a hold of some slides of works that were at the Louvre, and I did reproductions of them," Riley said. "It was kind of a drive. I guess I was a little unsettled and painting seemed like the right thing to do."

Riley painted some seascapes when he was in Oregon and sold them at a show in 1982.

"That's when I decided to paint full time," Riley said. "I knew it was very hard to make a living at it, but I found a couple who were doing it, so I figured I should at least try."

Riley shifted from seascapes to the American Indian motif after looking at a James Bama book.

"I enjoyed what his art looked like and I liked the fact that he was doing well with that kind of work," Riley said. "So, I attended a couple of powwows in Portland and Pendleton.

"I found some great subject matter," he said. "In fact, after 35 years, I'm still painting them."

He has a series of American Indian children portraits.

"I did a lot of kids for awhile and that was really enjoyable," he said. "I started working with families, because it was tough just to go to the reservation and ask people if they wanted to be painted."

Riley's draw to portraits stemmed from his early dabbling in painting.

"I like painting faces," he said. "I always think you need to paint the face the best you can, because if you're doing a portrait, it's the focus on the painting. If you begin with the face and move away, you begin to allow yourself to get more abstract."

Riley also enjoys painting hands.

"They can also be very emotional and by the way you place a hand in the work, it can tell the viewer a lot about the subject," he said. "So, I put in secondary detail with how the hand is painted."

The artist prefers oils because he can control the medium.

"The colors are also better, and you can mix the paints up," he said. "I've done acrylics when I wanted to paint small studies. And watercolors are the opposite of oils, and I like them, but I stayed with oils."

The frustration with oils is the drying time.

"You can start and finish an acrylic painting in a 24-hour sitting, but not with oils," he said. "They take a long time to dry."

That aside, Riley said the two biggest challenges of his livelihood is starting a project and finishing one.

"When you start, you take the canvas out and put it on an easel and it's white and bare," he said with a laugh. "Sometimes I just put color on the darn thing just to get something on there to get rid of the white."

Once Riley starts blocking the image in, the work gets intense, exciting and geometrical.

"Then you put in the detail and that's when the painting starts to fall apart," he said with another laugh. "It's only during the last 10 percent of the work that the painting starts to come back again."

Riley said there are three things necessary to finish a painting.

"You need a painter, which is me," he said. "You need someone to tell you when to quit and you need someone to see the darn thing, too."

Still, there are times when he gets close to the end and can't stop.

"I have to put it in a corner and forget about it for six months," Riley said. "But then I'd pull out the painting and see all the details and frustrating parts that I wasn't able to do the way I wanted to."

These days, Riley's wife tries to help him finish the paintings.

"She'll come into my studio and look at my stuff and will say, 'You're done' and I'll say, 'No. I just started,'" Riley said. "Then she'll come back in a couple of days and say, 'What have you been doing for the past few days? Playing games?'"

By the fourth visit, Riley will concede.

"But sometimes I will get done and look at the painting and it won't be what I wanted it to be, and I know I can't start over," he said. "It's always a fight to finish."

Hoffman's Exotics and Fine Art, 4207 N. Forestdale Drive, Suite B, will host a free artist event from 5-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30. For more information about Hoffmans Exotics and Fine Art, visit For more information about Larry Riley Fine Art, visit