David Lussier is an official U.S. Open artist for the United States Golf Association. He is also a nationally recognized landscape painter whose work has garnered more than 75 awards and is in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the United States. Mr. Lussier’s technique is characterized by a masterful use of color harmonies and poetic brushwork that bring his paintings to life. Mr. Lussier has been commissioned by the United States Golf Association to paint several golf paintings, including Merion Country Club in Ardmore Pennsylvania, the official commemorative painting of Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont Pennsylvania, for the 116th U.S. Open and the official commemorative painting of Erin Hills for this years U.S. Open. Four of his golf paintings currently hang in the USGA Museum’s permanent collection in Far Hills, New Jersey.
THE LUSSIER STORY —
Whenever I’m playing a round of golf, the artist within is always painting the beauty I see around me, in my minds eye. So naturally, I have painted commissions for private individuals and have always loved the process. I cannot however, fully explain in words, the immense joy I felt during the entire process of painting my first US Open commission. To be given the opportunity to paint championship courses has been a life changing event. It’s challenging and I feel totally connected. It’s the most connected I’ve felt in 35 plus years of painting.
MATT WARD: When you get up in the morning what’s the driving force?
DAVID LUSSIER: I have a strong desire to achieve goals and make the most out of each day. I’m a devoted husband and father and I want to take care of my family. One goal that I have each time I stand at my easel is to give it a hundred percent of my time, to really be in the moment. Another goal that I have is to work with other courses.
MW: How did golf enter your radar screen on the artistic side?
DL: A golf course is a beautiful landscape and a piece of art all on its own. As someone who paints and plays the game, it’s just a natural process to want to paint it.
MW: How long a process is there from the time you think about a certain hole to it being painted?
DL: In some ways, it depends on the criteria for the painting. But with the U.S. Open paintings, it is about a six month process from the time that I visit the course to start to get ideas, until the painting gets signed and framed.
MW: Of all the golf scenes you’ve captured what’s your favorite thus far?
DL: I have a strong desire to make each painting my very best one yet. It’s part of what fuels the passion. So, I’d have to say my favorite golf scene that I’ve captured on canvas so far, is the 9th hole at Erin Hills, which I’ve just completed.
MW: You started playing golf at age 12 — how much do you play and where do you play most often?
DL: I am committed to playing twice a week during the New England golf season. My home course is Cohasse Country Club in Southbridge MA.
MW: On your Website you mention you say you take in the design elements felt by the golfer — describe the process and what collaborative role you go through in doing so?
DL: A painter who doesn’t play the game, may look at a golf hole and just see the design elements that can be incorporated into a painting. I see the design elements but also understand the specific challenges that a golfer will face navigating that hole. The emotion of this finds its way into the final painting in a way that can’t exactly be explained, but would be lacking from someone who painted but didn’t understand and play the game. This year I was able to have a fantastic lengthy conversation with Mike Hurdzan, the architect of Erin Hills, about specific holes that I was contemplating for the final painting for this years U.S. Open championship. It was an eye opening conversation and I referred to some of my notes from our conversation as I painted.
MW: How did the relationship with the USGA start?
DL: I was commissioned by the USGA to paint the 13th Hole at Merion Country Club in Ardmore PA in 2012, which was a success. I was considered for the U.S. Open Commemorative paintings after that.
MW: Best advice received — what was it and who from?
DL: I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of confidants and mentors in my life, and I’ve received so much great advice along the way. If I had to come up with the best advice received, I would have to say that it came from my friend and mentor, artist George Carpenter, who made his living selling his landscape paintings. When I was just starting out, he took a good hard look at my work and encouraged me to work on honing my craft before putting my work in the public eye. Too many artists are looking for gallery success and validation of their work before they are ready and they just get let down. He could see my talent but he didn’t want me to jump the gun. It takes a deep commitment to yourself to be the harshest critic of your own work.
MW: You can change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
DL: Interesting question. I know there is always a lot of talk about improving slow play and this is never going to be an easy fix. I do believe that the proposed rule changes by the USGA for 2019, will go a long way toward modernizing the rules of golf and making things simpler, which in turn will help speed up play. Simplifying the rules in golf should also help bring much needed new people to the game.
MW: Your life has involved a wide range of elements — how have they shaped you in who you are today?
DL: I’ve always been the guy who sees the glass half full and I wake up with renewed optimism each and every day. When my wife and I met twenty years ago, we each had three children and we all soon became the real life Brady Bunch and our kids bonded almost instantly. My wife and I are business partners and we both paint. We’ve been through some unexpected things together, but isn’t that one of life’s most valuable lessons? When some of the older children were starting college years, my wife began a long battle with Multiple Myeloma cancer and kidney disease. She underwent 6 years of dialysis and I trained to become a technician so that I could give her hemo dialysis at home for three years. Fast forward to today and my wife has been free of cancer for many years and she’s actually considered a walking miracle. She also received a donor kidney almost four years ago.
Our youngest daughter just graduated from college. All six have finished college, two with doctorates. My point is that whatever life throws at you, you still have to wake up everyday and make the most of it. You still go to work every morning. In my case; into the studio to find my passion to create. When you go through difficult situations, it certainly reshapes you into a stronger human being on the other side.