Greeley Wells — by Diana Coogle

When Greeley Wells was in high school contemplating possible careers, he considered what he had been doing all his life (art), what he liked to do (art), and what he was good at (art).

So Greeley (his signature name) became what he was: an artist.

Greeley mostly painted the human figure because, he says, “it is the prototype of exquisite form.” He explains that he wanted his paintings to follow the flow of lines. (As he talked, his hand flowed like a shadow across the form of his own body.)

He likes the play of light and dark, the way shadows give a sense of undulating three-dimensional forms in his two-dimensional medium. Greeley frequently painted in shades of gray which allowed more opportunity for the line to express form without the complication of color.

The past tense of “painted” is accurate because, one day three years ago when Greeley was walking through his woods on Carberry Creek taking pictures with a new iphone, he thought, “Doesn’t this thing also make movies?” With that discovery, his career changed paths. He is no longer a painter but a movie-maker.

Unhampered now by the limitations of two-dimensional art, Greeley plays with time, sound, motion, and realism in the outdoor world.

The art, he says, is in allowing the creek and the tree to catch his attention. Then he tries to capture the layering of experience: the yellow leaves which (next layer) are moving and behind it the creek (next layer) also moving (another layer) and the sun making it sparkle (another layer) and through the leaves in the distance darker forms (another layer) and if he is lucky, a red tree (another layer).

Greeley’s movies are quiet. They are slow. The sun spreads over a hillside, leaves twinkle lazily to the ground, the wind blows sparkles on the creek. Greeley wants us to see beyond the “first seeing,” which, he says, is mere identification: “This is a maple.” He wants us to learn “real seeing,” a deeper way of looking. “My movies calm you down, make you pay attention, watch a little bit longer – and see,” he says.

Greeley does not miss painting. “Sitting down with paint doesn’t hold a candle,” he says, to the animated nature of his new art.

by Diana Coogle for the Applegate Valley Community Newspaper 2013

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