A painter’s journey from the Tri-State to Churchill Downs

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

By Joseph DiCristofaro
The Ironton Tribune

From painting canvas on the historic terrace of Churchill Downs to painting shipping containers in Ironton, Ashland, Kentucky-based artist Elias Reynolds has left his mark on many canvases, brick walls and unsuspecting surfaces in between.
“Three years ago, I was working a full-time graphic design job and painting in the evenings and on the weekends,” Reynolds said. “It got to the point where people were asking me so much that I was having to turn down those jobs because of my full-time job.”
Reynolds along with his wife decided that pursuing his passion for art had the potential to improve their lives for the better.
“My wife and I decided it was time to do this, so I quit my full-time job and hit the ground running,” Reynolds said.

Becoming an artist full-time proved to be a successful endeavor leading Reynolds to create murals around the area, commission works of art and ultimately live painting what is known as the most exciting two minutes in sports; the Kentucky Derby.
“I had never been to the derby before, so it was really cool to be a part of that,” Reynolds said. “Getting to paint there and do something I love, showing people what I do for a living was amazing.”
As if he were a jockey climbing onto a horse’s back moments before the gates opened, Reynolds was nervous but also ready for the challenge.
“I was nervous, but I was prepared, this is what I do every day. It was easy for me to shake the nerves,” Reynolds said. “There were a lot of people around me where I was painting, but I like the pressure.”
Reynolds’s painting titled “The 150 Gold” was auctioned off with all the proceeds going to Second Stride Inc., a nonprofit that specializes in rehoming and rehabilitating retired racehorses.
Reynolds always had a knack for art since a young age, but it wasn’t until he reached high school and then later in college that he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“Art was something I always did as a kid, like most kids I liked to draw and paint. My mom also dabbled in painting so it kind of rubbed off onto me,” Reynolds said. “I went to college not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I took some art classes and fell in love with it.”
Despite finding his passion, it was several years before Reynolds decided to pick up the brush full-time and ditch his day job for his calling.
“I did various full-time jobs like landscaping, I worked for a book printing company and I also had a graphic design job at one point,” Reynolds said. “Outside of my full-time jobs, I would work on paintings during the evenings or on the weekend and I would sell those.”
Since becoming a full-time artist Reynolds has had the opportunity to further improve his work, learn from countless experiences and incorporate them into his current works.
“Each job is a new challenge, and I can take what I’ve learned from past projects and incorporate it into what I’m working on,” Reynolds said. “Each mural I do is a great experience, a new opportunity to meet and inspire people and to show my work.”
To Reynolds his artwork is more than paint on a surface, rather it provides hope to those who see it about what the future holds for them.
“My biggest goal with being a full-time artist is inspiring people, showing people that they can pursue their dreams and be successful with whatever it is that they want to do,” Reynolds said. “You have to work hard and have a good circle of people that believe and support you.”

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