It was a study abroad trip to Europe during college that first inspired landscape artist Trey McCarley to paint.
"I mean, have you ever been to Europe? It wasn’t just about painting, but more so doing something I loved," he said during a recent interview at Art on the Green in Conway. "When I got back home, I would get up at 6 a.m. and go down to the streets in Little Rock and just paint. When I went back to school in Fayetteville, I would go to school during the day and paint at night."
With a University of Arkansas landscape architecture degree under his belt, McCarley received the gift of an unprecedented apprenticeship with American Impressionist Robert Moore. Just two weeks after graduation, McCarley headed to Idaho to live and to work with Moore.
"He became my family," McCarley said. "I am the oldest of seven children, and he has six children, so when I got there, I was the oldest of seven there, too.
"An apprenticeship is so rare. It doesn’t just teach you the how’s, but teaches you real life aspects in hands-on experiences. It’s about more than developing a career, but a lifestyle."
McCarley’s love of the outdoors is evident, as he translates landscapes to grand canvases. He and wife, Haley, currently live near Moore in South Central Idaho. They regularly travel throughout the Western United States and make frequent trips to Central Arkansas.
"I am inspired from creation," he said. "I am inspired from nature and constancy. I want to capture a mood and an experience."
McCarley also commissions live paintings for charity events, like the one in early 2014 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for Spark of Life Foundation — a grief recovery organization. While "Duck Dynasty’s" Willie Robertson and wife, Korie, spoke about their support of Spark of Life, McCarley painted a landscape "live."
Live paintings usually take 2-3 hours during an event.
"It is a challenge to paint in front of people," he laughed, "but it is exciting in a new way, too."
Brenda McClain, gallery director at Art on the Green, said McCarley is a compliment to the gallery.
"People from across the country love his work," she said. "He is so well received, and I am grateful he is willing to make the trip to our gallery several times a year."
McCarley will teach a workshop Friday and Saturday at Art on the Green, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Cost is $150 per participant, and people will leave with their own landscape painting. Registration is required. Contact Art on the Green at 501-205-1922 for more information.
"My workshops are for anyone wanting to paint," he said. "I do not teach steps, as much as concepts. I always learn in my workshops."
McCarley’s oil landscapes are on display at Art on the Green in Conway, and galleries in Fayetteville, Russellville, Hot Springs and Little Rock.