When Albert Dreher began painting fine art, following a successful career as a commercial artist, he was looking for something different, something that would make his work unique. 

He found it when he developed the “Oil Wash” technique. The simple thing to know about this style is that it allows him to create beautiful paintings that jump from the paper. His favorite subjects are Ancestral Pueblo (that is the politically correct name for “Anasazi”) ruins. His work is a combination of free-flowing paint and precise images. 



Here is the detailed, and interesting, explanation of how he developed the “Oil Wash” style.

35 years ago, there were a couple of well-known artists working with watercolor washes that allowed the paint to flow on the paper and yet left large areas of open space. Michael Atkinson is probably the best-known Southwest artist that used this technique. While Albert liked the idea and the look, he didn’t like the fact that the paper absorbed the watercolor and the artist lost control of where it was going. A lot was left to chance. 

He is a problem solver and attacked the issue from a different direction. Instead of watercolors, he tried oils mixed with solvents. To keep the paper from absorbing the paint, he worked a deal with a paper company to manufacture a special paper that is half plastic and half cotton. 


“I had to buy a lot of it, so I’ll be doing this work for a while!” he says.

His easel is very different from most artists. It consists of a steel spike that comes out of the center of a table and a piece of board. A steel cup is screwed into the center of the back of the board. The spike fits in the cup and allows Albert to rotate and tilt the board in any direction he chooses. This allows him to paint with his oil paints and, by adjusting the board, to run the paint where ever and whenever he chooses. The paper doesn’t allow the paint to spread and the artist keeps control.  

Our relationship with Albert Dreher started 31 years ago. That’s a long time for an artist to be working with the same gallery and, I think, it speaks a lot about the respect we have for each other.

Shiprock_ShadowHe is always making changes in his painting. At first, his work was always framed under glass, then he developed a coating that allowed them to be framed without glass which brought out more detail. Then he created a way to mount the works on stainless steel backings, colored in such a way as to compliment the work.

A couple of years ago, he had a heart transplant. It slowed him down for a bit, but he’s back on top of it today and we are excited to host the first showing of his work in Durango in three years. Dreher has twice been the poster artist for Music in the Mountains, Durango’s annual Classic Music Festival which, incidentally, begins its 32nd year this week. 


True to his nature, he is experimenting with some different ideas, overlaying spiritual images on top of the architectural paintings in some of his work. It is a unique and interesting look, and this will be the first time we’ve shown any of these paintings in the gallery. 

The artist will be here for the opening, from 5 pm until 8 pm on Friday and on Saturday, from 10 am until 4 pm. We are excited to welcome Albert and his wife, Mary, back to Durango. Please join us!

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