I am a contemporary Canadian artist. Born in Winnipeg (1957), I grew up in various rural Manitoba communities. As a young man I studied at 4 different universities, eventually stopping at McGill in Montreal . . . none of that had to do with art training, per se.
My only formal art training consisted of a class in drawing, under the guidance of Kady Denton. That was in the early 80’s. It was a fantastic experience. The drawing came so easily and I will surprised myself at how quickly I progressed. I also remember the gratification one can get from an art teacher’s approval. That came in the form of eyes wide open and one of those speechless pauses . . . that was Kady’s reaction when she came around to check on one of my drawings. It wasn’t an abstract, it was of a little stuffed bird, a sparrow. She suggested I closely follow the work of Robert Bateman, probably because of a touch of realism and a deep knack for details.
A decade or so later Kady Denton went on to receive a Governor General’s Award for her art and writing. By then I was in the midst of a career in managing gardening catalogues. In that capacity I spent countless hours pouring over so much plant photography; I also got to know a great deal about graphic arts and printing.
In 2005 I decided it was time to pour his creativity into creating art…to date that includes over 20,000 hours in developing this unique style of mine, mostly through digital painting. Many of my pieces involve scans of leaves, pieces of fruit, or bits of melted candle wax.
For most of the past 12 years I’ve also been a live-in caregiver to a parent with progressive dementia. Mainly for this reason I have focused more on web-based art promotion than on fairs, exhibitions and gallery representation – I’ve often described myself as a “healthy shut-in”! In the meantime my art has been sold online and collected mainly in Europe and North America.
Early in my current art period, around 2005, while watching my natural surroundings more closely, the simplest truth dawned on me. This has become pervasive in how I think, and certainly in my art. It’s an innocent kind of statement, yet to me a very powerful and intriguing one:
“There are no lines in nature.”
My Style & Technique
My art involves three stages. First there are the drawings, mostly abstract and figurative. Then I add layers of natural material, such as leaves or pieces of an orange or a pineapple. These are scanned and combined with the drawings, becoming my electronic canvas. Lastly, that’s where I start playing with the images on-screen. It’s a process of discovery in both the big picture as well the finest of details.
Most of my paintings evolve over a span of several years. I work on them for ten or thirty hours over a few weeks. Then they rest in dormancy, often for three years or more. Eventually I bring them out again for another twenty or thirty hours. After a few more cycles of dormancy and creativity, suddenly a painting feels finished and it’s “Voila!”
My French isn’t that good, so even then there is usually several hours of minor touch ups . . . nothing major but also surprisingly important to the final appearance.
It’s kind of funny, how many people think of my style as being a quick series of pushing a bunch of buttons . . . that’s so very far from the truth. In a recent discussion with a gallery owner, I told her, “I spend ten seconds zapping something and then ten hours unzapping it!” We both got a chuckle out of that, as she nodded in agreement and understanding.
In summary, here is how one art expert describes my technique, “Lawrence`s unique choice of combining his drawing, natural found objects and digital painting represents an evolved and mature art language.” – Laara Williamson, professional artist from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
This is a very simplified attempt to explain my technique. Sometimes I wish I could do a YouTube video to show you more, but it takes a lot of time to do what I do, and I simply don’t have the skills to do something like a time-lapse presentation. However, here is a marvelous example of on-screen art, where you can see how traditional it all actually is: Live Painting Show – A Woman’s Life.
There’s also an issue of being “camera shy” though it is actually more than that. I recently watched the documentary, “Gerhard Richter Painting” – the link is a 3:17 segment from the film. I was amazed at how much we seem to have in common, in terms of our thinking process – the waiting and the discovery. And I did get a chuckle when after trying so hard to do a painting while being filmed over several days, he finally came to the realization that he “simply can’t do it” – that’s a paraphrase of his frustration, in his admission of that need for privacy in the process.