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LAWRENCE PACKARD-MARINE ARTIST

Most things in life don’t happen all at once; they are instead… a chain of small events and that’s how it’s been with my art. I was born in Iowa; my father was career Air Force and as we traveled around the country my mother studied art. My parents retired to New Orleans, where my mother became an internationally known artist with a gallery in the French Quarter.


I joined the Air Force in 1966 and my first assignment was on board an Air Sea Rescue Crash Boat in the Gulf of Mexico. The ex-Navy PT boat, built during World War II gave me an uncommon opportunity to experience the sea. My next assignment was in Vietnam, serving with the Army on a Combat Air Control team. It was there that I began to draw, sketching what I saw on sheets from log books and on my maps; One of the subjects was Vietnamese fishing boats.


After the Air Force came a “real” job; but art was in my blood and I spent weekends in the New Orleans French Quarter drawing sailing ships on charts and selling them on the fence at Jackson Square. I won my first award at an outdoor art show in 1972 and for 35 years my work was sold exclusively in New Orleans. During that time, I learned the art of scrimshaw and worked in watercolors and oils; but I always rediscovered that my gift is to capture the spirit of sailing ships with the nearly lost art of pen and ink. I never had an art lesson; my teachers have been time, patience and life’s experience. I’ve sailed aboard working schooners in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico and as a licensed pilot I learned to feel the wind and understand weather in a three dimensional world even more unforgiving of mistakes than the sea.


I begin each drawing with a spontaneous 30 second pencil sketch; then using a pen point with the thickness of a single human hair I create the details, shapes, textures and shadows by layering thousands of tiny pen strokes… a chain of small events. Each ship is created entirely freehand - there are no calculated pen strokes. My ships are based on historical accounts found in insurance records, old newspapers, books and genealogies - I bring them back to life on the chart of the waters where they were last seen.


Of all of man’s creations to transport people and goods, none have been as magnificent, graceful or alive than sailing ships. My ships travel the world… bolted to the bulkheads of warships and sailboats. They hang in maritime museums and fish camps; corporate offices and vacation homes – anywhere that people want to be reminded of the sea and the spirit of sailing ships.

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