Larry Lombardo A.W.S., N.W.S.
International Guild of Realism.
Watercolor artist Larry Lombardo was born March 21, 1971 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. His early childhood years, however, were spent in a small wooded trailer park in a secluded area of Pennsylvania. “We were so poor, but I loved that place,” says Lombardo, reflecting on his life now from his comfortable, two-story home in Annville, PA. The sun will soon be setting on the open farmland adjoining his property. “I have such a vivid memory of being outdoors there one evening and hearing “Dust in the Wind” being played by some neighbor in the distance. I just stood there and took it all in. As a kid, it all just seemed so magical.”
Despite a limited education and with no art background themselves, Lombardo’s parents recognized their child’s talent for drawing at an early age. Lombardo now recalls the time when his mother decided to send one of his drawings to Romper Room, a children’s TV program. “One day I was watching TV and I see Miss Patti (the host of the show) holding up one of my drawings in her hand. And she was talking about it! Then she picks up her phone and starts to dial and the phone in my home starts ringing! I just sat there, mesmerized, looking back and forth at the TV and then the phone. Then my mother answers it with this big grin on her face and hands the phone to me. Miss Patti started speaking to me directly through the TV! It was amazing!” This moment, Lombardo says, was a seed which ultimately led to his life’s work.
He would later tell others of the lasting impact those early trailer years in the woods had on him for inspiring works of art which would eventually be recognized on the international stage. Lombardo’s most personal painting to date, “When I was young it seemed that life was so wonderful," reflects those days.
“Even to this day, every spring, I go back and visit that little wooded trailer park. It still inspires me.”
School for young Larry was not easy. He was a daydreamer whose mind wandered as he starred out windows. “I felt trapped. I just couldn’t find anything I was really interested in besides art.” At one point the school was concerned enough to suggest his parents take him for testing of his hearing and IQ. To everyone's surprise, both tests came back with high scores. While some teachers viewed Larry as bothersome, others, says Lombardo, caught on to what motivated him. One of the eldest teachers in the middle school was determined not to leave Larry behind and created a unique curriculum, just for him. The teacher put the boy in a separate area where he would research his social study material and create art from it. While other children his age were drawing cartoons, Lombardo was sketching faces, human anatomy and animals. Lombardo’s love for this woman is obvious as he remembers her kindness.
Another person who took a special interest in him was the principal of his high school who would have Larry do large paintings for the hallways and school events.
During his school years, Lombardo received numerous awards and even national recognition. Several of his art pictures were published in a national magazine as well as in a national school reading publication. His high school art teacher, who he says “always saw something special in each of her students,” one day explained to him, "You are an artist, Larry. You will never see the world the same as others see it." This one statement not only gave him assurance but, “It finally gave me an understanding of why I look at life so differently.”
Told by his high school counselor that he would not be accepted into a college due to his grades, Lombardo, with much guidance from his art teacher, worked hard on an art portfolio. In his sophomore year of high school he received early admission into the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design; his portfolio was judged one of the top ten submitted. While in college his technique would sometimes cause conflict with some teachers as they would critique "loosen up and stop being so detailed. “His reply of "this is my style" would prompt their response of "you do not have a style yet." This confused the young artist due to his past work of perfecting his drawing skills. But soon others noticed his art. His first live figure drawing was one of a few to be selected and displayed in the college gallery. The dean also took notice of his style and insisted a self-portrait Lombardo completed within just 20 minutes be displayed in the school’s gallery.
After attending Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lombardo began to question himself. All his life he felt his destiny for being an artist had been laid out for him. Yet as he reflected on his life, he felt there was more to him than just his art. He wanted to be accepted for the person he was and not just for his art talent. “I’d always been known as an artist, but I started wondering. If I really apply myself, can I be something else?” With an interest in the study of people and human psychology, he put his art aside and enrolled at Lancaster Bible College to study counseling and youth ministry. While at college, he never discussed his passion for art with his friends, but there were times in class when his mind would drift away and his hand would start sketching, surprising the classmate next to him. “I’d just act baffled, like I just got lucky, and then I’d divert the discussion to another subject.” Now, pursuing human psychology, a subject in which he had intense interest, his grades accelerated.
Lombardo continued to grow as he moved from college to work with adolescents in a drug and alcohol facility and then in a PA psychiatric hospital. While working in the psychiatric field, Lombardo still had his passion and dedication for producing his art, but he was not yet ready to share his work with others. He considers this time period a very personal art journey for him and one that helped shape him into the inspirational artist he would become. To this day, most of his art during that period has not been seen.
In 1994, while working in the drug and alcohol field, Lombardo married his high school sweetheart, Jen, whom he had met in art class and dated for five and a half years. Their first child, a son, was born premature and with complications but soon recovered to become a healthy baby. The child’s birth, says Lombardo, provided a pivotal intersection in his life. Around that time, Lombardo had also come to the realization that he was burying in the sand the talent God had given him. These two events, says Lombardo, led to a major revelation for change. Following discussions with his wife, now a nurse, Lombardo, who always loved and wanted children, decided to become a full time dad and dedicate his time at home to his son and daughter, born 2 years later. Working late into the night after the children were put to bed, Lombardo found the time and freedom to finally do what was his passion. He was now enthusiastic to take all he learned from his childhood and his love for people and psychology and put everything into his paintings. It was time for Lombardo to pick up his brushes and show the world his vision of art.
He soon became one of the top watercolor artists in the world, recognized by magazines as "best of that year" and winning top awards in International shows. He has been published in contemporary art books and continues to be written about in magazines. His watercolor paintings have been featured in congressional Gala's and his art has been purchased by U.S Senators. Larry's paintings have been hung in museums along side famous artists such as Andy Warhol. He also has traveled through out the United States teaching his realistic art style. He is known for bringing his figures to life and has been able to teach others his unique style for more than ten years. His students have moved on to be accepted into international juried exhibits and have also won many awards in those shows (see student section).
Larry Lombardo is a Signature Member of the prestigious: Amercican Watercolor Society
National Watercolor Society
As well as other Watercolor Society's.
He was also selected to be a member of The International Guild of Realism.
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