LARRY PRESTON (b. 1951) enjoyed a youth filled with both art and music. Growing up in Massachusetts, he spent his teens studying and imitating Flemish still life paintings at the Worcester Art Museum. At the same time, Preston was developing as a musician and was presented with opportunities to become professional.
After 25 successful years in the music business, he decided to return to his first love of visual art, and today is a full-time painter.
Preston is completely self-taught, and his approach has evolved and matured over many years into his own personal style. Whether classified as trompe-l’oeil, photorealism, or hyperrealism, Preston’s paintings contain an exceptional level of detail and clarity. His process takes place in multiple sittings and layers, and is anchored in precision, close observation, and accuracy.
Although paintings done in trompe-l’oeil (French for “trick the eye”) can sometimes aim for exacting, almost photographic, representation, Preston’s still lifes are not about formulaic or flat imitation. Rather, they are about bringing the often overlooked details of life into focus, right down to the subtle shape of shifting light on a flower petal.
This painstaking approach suits Preston’s motivation for painting perfectly, as what continually draws him to the canvas is a reverence for the objects around him and a desire to observe them closely. The artist talks enthusiastically about his favorite subjects and surfaces to paint, such as his fascination with glass and its jewel-like appearance, with its infinite shifts in color and transparency. He also loves the challenge of painting the varying textures and patinas of metal and wood surfaces.
Preston is unapologetic about the fact that he paints for the sake of beauty — not to make a statement, not to please an audience, and not to make a sale. If any of this happens as a byproduct of his pursuit, so be it; he is grateful for the honor.
“I paint for myself and the process, not anyone else,” the artist says. “I paint to remind myself of what I find important and beautiful and to experience the process of painting my chosen object. Success, for me, is found in the studio — in the drive to continue growing as an artist and create honest work.”
Preston is represented by William Baczek Fine Arts (Northampton, MA), Lily Pad Galleries (Westerly, RI), Susan Powell Fine Art (Madison, CT), and Principle Galleries (Alexandria, VA and Charleston, SC).
This article was originally published in 2019