Lawrence W Lee


Lawrence LeeLawrence W. Lee was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1947, and lived there with his parents and elder brother until moving to Tucson, Arizona in 1957. Lee attended Northern Arizona University and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1969, followed by a Masters in Art Education and certification to teach at the secondary level in Arizona in 1970. Lawrence continues to live and work in Tucson, painting almost every day. 

One of the most amazing things about his paintings is how they draw you in. They are identifiable as his work from a hundred feet away, but there is always a sense that more remains to be seen, and with each step closer some new detail or relationship is revealed, and each of these, in turn, draws you closer still.  A Lawrence Lee painting is unlike any other painting in the world. 

Lee's medium of choice is acrylics because it allows him to make large changes rapidly. "I'll be dissatisfied with something so I paint over it, and I don't want to wait for it to dry. As fast as acrylic dries here in Arizona, sometimes it doesn't dry fast enough for me —I want to keep going. Because acrylic dries so fast here, I can't use the techniques that I developed when working with oil. So I've developed other techniques in order to do the kind of 3-dimensional modeling I want to do." Painters become accustomed to the tools with which they work, notes Lee, whose hands, after 40 years, instinctively know what to do.

Typically, Lee begins a painting with a couple of tick marks on the canvas with vine charcoal that define the hairline and the chin; then he adds a few directional lines. "The first thing I work on is the eyes, and typically the last thing I work on is the eyes. I'm not trying to figure out what I have to do, but what it wants, what it needs to be finished," confides Lee, who waits to make sure the person in the image has said whatever he/she needs to say before he sends it out the door.