When he was nine years old, Gary Lake moved to Bishop, California to live with his grandparents, spending summers at their cabin in Mammoth Lakes, hiking and fishing the backcountry basins. Lake saw his first Robert Clunie landscape hanging on the wall of the old Golden State Cafe on Main Street in Bishop, California. Lake was so inspired by the realism and accurate palette of Clunie’s paintings, he knew that art was to be his own destiny.
At the onset of the Korean War, Lake dropped out of high school and joined the Navy working first as a radar man, then as a draftsman/illustrator for the Commander of Battleships and Cruisers, Atlantic Fleet. Upon leaving the Navy, he submitted an art portfolio and was accepted to Art Center College of Design. After graduating, he went to work for GM in Detroit as a graphic and exhibit designer.
Lake missed the wide open country of the Eastern Sierra Nevada and after two hard, cold winters in Detroit, he returned to California. He enrolled at California State University Los Angeles and earned his teaching credential. Lake made monthly visits to the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles where the works of Edgar Payne, William Wendt, Hanson Duvall Puthuff and other California impressionists were on display.
He found inspiration in Edgar Payne’s classic book The Composition of Outdoor Painting and joined the California Art Club as a painting member. Lake won first place for one of his landscapes at the annual California Art Club show. He embraced the artistic interpretations and colorful palettes of the early California impressionists. Influenced by these artists, Lake captured the impressions of nature in his oil paintings–while always staying true to the details of his subjects.
Permanently settling in Bishop with his wife Donna, Lake taught art at the local high school where he mastered the process of serigraphy. Lake’s serigraphs, rich in the soft color and texture of nature are a testament to his craftsmanship and sense of design. Each color is painted on the screen, then hand-pulled, one color at a time, layer over layer, with as many as 43 layers of color in one silkscreened image. His serigraphs are an amazing accomplishment of craftsmanship, creativity and design.
In the 1960s, Lake accompanied Robert Clunie on his annual summer painting trip to Fourth and Fifth Lakes in Big Pine Canyon, where Clunie spoke of the early California Art Club painters including artist Edgar Payne who often visited Clunie at his Big Pine camp years before. Today, Gary Lake lives and paints in Bishop. ©2009 Wynne Benti