Born in 1959 in Ruston, Louisiana, Lacey Stinson credits his love for natural forms, typically recurring elements in his body of work, to having grown up around lakes, creek beds, and undeveloped Southern woods. Spanish moss creeping from tree to tree, the odor of crawdad flutes rising out of the mud, snapping turtles, and rabbit-chasing hounds colored many of the days of his earliest youth. His father’s work as a Navy pilot led to two summers in the arid landscapes of southwestern Spain. Living in such a vastly different climate so soon after crawling out of the Louisiana swamps invigorated his young imagination. Sand-swept landscapes reluctantly bore scrubby, low-canopied, patchy coniferous forests. The unmistakable artifacts of an agrarian society, still dependent upon mules for bearing loads of produce into town, were apparent everywhere. Orchard trees, ritually stripped of their bark to make cork for bottles of wine–one of the region’s more prized industries–stood invitingly on low, sandy hillsides. Many southern Spanish towns hosted olive repositories lined with casks of various olive cultivars gathered by hand from nearby orchards. Those ancient olive orchards, foreboding forests of twisting, sinuous branches, inspired Stinson’s later love of North Louisiana’s peach orchards near his current studio.
The raw beauty of these landscapes, both in Spain and North Louisiana, marked Stinson’s mind as he visited his first large museum, the Prado of Madrid, where he first encountered the art of painting from the Renaissance forward. A few particular works of art at the Prado further impressed upon him a bizarre and surreal unreality which, coupled with his love of Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction, eventually found its way into his own artistic practice. One particular piece in its small charming frame continued to live in his memory; Goya’s grotesquely beautiful painting, “Saturn Eating his Children,” foreshadowed Stinson’s own first efforts in painting many years later. With the memory of Goya’s painting and a Clarke paperback in his back pocket, Stinson combined his fascination with bleak, expansive landscapes, the visual surprises of surrealism, and the planet Saturn itself in a highly detailed rendering devised to tell the story of a time and place far away.
Stinson’s early loves continue to manifest themselves in his later work. Earning his MFA from Louisiana Tech University, Stinson again ventured into the fields of North Louisiana to paint landscapes. These landscapes subsequently evolved into abstract studio paintings on large canvases. Expanding on these painting accomplishments, Stinson began collaborating with other artists and writers to design and illustrate poetry chapbooks, children’s books, and collections of short fiction. Out of this graphic and illustrative period came his collection of ‘Small Worlds’ drawings. The ‘Small Worlds’ series harks back to the inspirations of his earliest work.