Fairfield Now - Summer 2007
Class of '69 Profile
George Lawrence: An artist at the top of his game
By Alejandra Navarro
George Lawrence's profession keeps him on the golf course, but he's not always perfecting his game. Most of the time, he's simply taking in the view and searching for a few inspiring scenes.
Lawrence is a golf landscape and portrait artist who currently serves as president of the Academy of Golf Art. His life-like paintings and murals of golfers and fairways have appeared in national magazines including House, The Met Golfer, and Golf Digest, and in the books, Fine Art of America's Fairways and Golf Clubs of the MGA: A Centennial History of Golf in the New York Metropolitan Area.
"The golf artist sees something the average golfer does not," explains Lawrence, who took up the game at age 11. He notices the way the shadows from an early morning sun add depth to the fairway, the colors and textures of the green, and the distinguishing features of a course – a pond, the foliage, and the grass.
Although Lawrence had dabbled in drawing since childhood, it wasn't until he took a class from the late Palko Lukacs at Fairfield that he developed a serious interest in art. Lukacs founded the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the College of Arts & Sciences and a student art gallery in Loyola Hall is named for him. "I wound up taking everything I could from him, including one course in graduate school," says Lawrence, who played on the University golf team and received a B.A. in English in 1969, followed by a master's in American Studies two years later.
It's surprising that Lawrence's realistic style was inspired by Lukacs, an artist known for his bold, impressionist paintings. Lukacs did not "teach" him how to paint, Lawrence explains, as much as provide guidance to refine his technique and develop his own artistic style. "We often worked together," says Lawrence, who was impressed by his mentor's passion for his own work. "He often asked me to help him with some of this exhibits." Lukacs encouraged Lawrence to attend a life drawing class off campus, where Lawrence met a community of artists.
Lukacs tried to persuade his apprentice to become an art teacher, but Lawrence, who had just married his wife, Maureen, took a job with Metropolitan Life Insurance, where his father was a vice president. Painting remained a hobby until 1986 when Lawrence, who lives in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., offered to paint a mural for a friend who was renovating his home. The wildlife scene - spanning 25 feet, floor-to-ceiling - was such a sensation that he began receiving requests from others in the area, including the area.
In 1989, to mark the Westhampton Country Club's 100th anniversary, Lawrence was commissioned to paint a mural. He created it of golf legend Harry Varden, with his baggy knickerbockers and handlebar mustache, taking a swing in a sand trap on the fifth hole. (The club preserved the mural when the old building was demolished and plans to place it in the new clubhouse this spring.) "When the members saw my painting, all of the sudden I was doing golf paintings left and right," says Lawrence, whose works are primarily for or of golf enthusiasts.
In this profession, he's had the chance to explore - and play - golf courses here and abroad. He occasionally tees off with his daughter, Fairfield alumna Julie Lawrence '05. "I get the same feeling no matter which course I visit," says Lawrence, who finds contentment on the green. "It's fun for me."