Bill Duryea easily recalls a third-grade memory: He's working on an art project, and hears the teacher announce it's time to move on to other studies. But after observing his jungle painting and how engrossed in the work he is, the teacher allows Duryea to finish and meet up with his peers later.
"From that point on, I knew I was going to be an artist," Duryea says.
As a kid, Duryea lived in a colonial ship captain's house in a small, rural farm town near Princeton, N.J.
"It's a big influence on all of my work," Duryea says, pointing to the various paintings of farm scenes hung throughout his studio.
These particular paintings represent the artist's use of realism, a style he came to embrace in years of en plain air work with friend and Manitou Springs artist Charles Rockey.
But Duryea employs a variety of styles in his artwork, including impressionism, photo-realism and imagination, as exemplified by his Dream Trees series.
"The series began because so many people were drawn to an ancient pear tree I had painted years ago from memory and imagination that was in my backyard where I grew up." Duryea says. "But the new dream trees are a departure from the original, and I was surprised by their energy and dynamics."
Each dream tree painting looks surreal and is composed of bright colors of a similar shade. The roots of the tree give way to the trunk and a swirl of the branches, all of which are set in the foreground of a shaded sky.
His art has been displayed across the country and in many local galleries, but this past spring, Duryea decided to regather his works and "invest in Manitou Springs as an art community or an art colony" by opening his own gallery.
"After many years of painting from life, I'm excited to return to accessing art through imagination," he says. "In a way I feel through the spontaneity, [the dream trees] practically create themselves, and I am just holding on to the brush."
Duryea Fine Art, 1003 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Runs through March
Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; call 685-9050 or visit duryeafineart.com for more.