Lawrence Oleary Jr

Award winning, published artist with works displayed in the archives of the Poetry House Museum NYC from 2015 to 2019. His work has also been recognized by The President of the United States and the Vatican.

“St. Francis abstract” gifted to His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican 2019

Veterans piece “Freedom Isn’t Free” awarded to the White House 2019.

His dreams become a reality as his story is told through brush strokes of color, light, and imagination dancing on his canvas. A part of his spirit goes into each brush stroke.

Lawrence comes from a family of several generations of artists. His great grandfather (of the same name) was originally from county Cork. He is said to have painted murals in churches and on clipper ships. His grandfather was a merchant mariner who would draw portraits for drinking money when he was in different ports. His father was a talented amateur artist who would paint in the style of the Realists. Because of this, one of Lawrence’s first exposures to fine art was Norman Rockwell.

As a child, Lawrence learned drawing, pastel, and oils from his father. As his talent matured, Lawrence was gifted his father’s pastels or paint sets. Being in a family going through financial hardship and the oldest of five boys meant that each medium and tool was treasured, as neither was easy to come by.

At the age of eight, Lawrence won a scholarship for an art course through LaSalle Extension University by drawing a character and submitting it. He studied this course every month for three years. Each month, he would anxiously wait for his lesson to arrive, and for a visit from an art professor every other month. During that time, he created a studio in the basement of his home. His art teacher at the local school gave him his first heavy-style classroom easel that he still charishes. He studied art during his 4 years at Cumberland High School.

At the age of ten, a wealthy English art collector, only remembered as Mr. Hayter, lived a street over from his parents home. After seeing some of his paintings, he asked Lawrence to paint a picture of one of his collectible beer steins. It was a small piece on an 8″x10” canvas. The man would look at it daily and ask Lawrence to make changes with lighting, highlights and shadow. Mr. Hayter eventually purchased it for thirty-five dollars. This was his first sale and first commission. Several more commissions from this same Englishman were painted over the following years. When the Englishman left for England, he wanted to take Lawrence with him to show him London. Offering to pay for his education, he was disappointed to learn that his offer was not acceptable to Lawrence’s parents. Lawrence had to work at an early age to bring money into the home to help support his family.

At fourteen years old, Lawrence visited his aunt and uncle in Chatham, MA, where he would eventually meet, befriend, and study with artist Ralph Shephard for most of the Summer. Mr. Shephard would occasionally give Lawrence one of his used paintbrushes and Lawrence was thrilled. The elder Mr. Shephard painted nautical scenes and did touch up artwork for museums.

During this time in his life, Lawrence also had the pleasure of studying with another older professional artist named Steve Gusty. Mr. Gusty was from Pawtucket, RI, and was the landlord of l Lawrence’s grandparents. Mr. Gusty owned a sign company and art studio/gallery. He painted all of his signs free hand and Lawrence would learn by watching. He helped Mr. Gusty in the shop for hours in exchange for art lessons. While studying with Mr. Gusty, Lawrence’s grandfather, James O’Leary (also an artist), would take him to the water to paint boats and nautical items on canvas. Being from Rhode Island, Lawrence was exposed to over four hundred miles of coastline and over thirty islands. In a very small state that is two-thirds water, there was much to see and paint.

Lawrence fell in love with ornate boats, ships, and buildings. His passion for nautical expression on canvas flourished. He studied with an artist at the Woonsocket YWCA on Saturdays for a year. Her name was Mrs. Newman. During that time period, he painted a large clipper ship that has since hung on the wall of the Cumberland High School Library. He donated the painting to the school in honor of the school football team “The Cumberland Clippers”.

While serving four years in the U.S.A.F., he would draw to cope with the horrors of war. He volunteered to sketch pastel portraits of his fellow soldiers for family and friends back home. He took personal pleasure knowing that those going through a tough period in their lives were comforted by his portraits.

Still eager to learn, Lawrence continued his studies at weekend art schools, RI Community College, and Rhode Island College and fell in love with all of the arts. During his later years in life he studied the techniques of the masters with Master artist Daniel Edmondson, who studied under David Laffelle. He has also partnered with Rhode Island School of Design. Lawrence’s passion has always been to remain open to knowledge and explore new avenues of creative expression as he believes that learning is a life pursuit. Lawrence also loves to teach and create with other art enthusiasts.

Passionate for the arts, he works as a professional artist, actor, and musician. Lawrence has obtained a multitude of venues for telling his stories; using color, perspective, brush strokes, texture, light, and shadow to invite the viewer on a journey through the art. Each of Lawrence’s works are personal to him. As each painting finds a new home, he feels that a piece of him goes on to live forever in the places where they hang. Currently a highly successful eclectic fine artist, his works are in demand by collectors world wide.