Born in Rockport, Massachusetts, impressionist painter William
Stevens lived and worked in the area for many years. In the later
part of his life, he moved to Conway, Massachusetts.
In 1921, together with fifty other artists, Stevens founded the Rockport Art Association, primarily to plan exhibitions of the work of outstanding area artists. Throughout the course of his long career, Stevens taught, first in Rockport, then at Boston University (1925-1926) and Princeton (1927-1929). He later gave lessons and held one-man shows in Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina, where his work was well-received. Southerners particularly enjoyed his views of famous Southern gardens and cities.In 1943 he was elected by his peers to the National Academy of Design. Shortly there after he purchased a summer home on Vinalhaven, Maine , where he spent many summers. He taught his students "Don't paint to sell. Paint because you can't help it."
Though the Depression years were difficult for both the artist and his family, the 1930s did bring Stevens some measure of commercial and personal success. He did a number of covers for "The American Legion Magazine" and won prizes in New Haven, Springfield and Rockport. In 1934, he abandoned Rockport to the growing tourist population and moved to Springfield, and then to Conway, Massachusetts, where he remodeled an old farmhouse and constructed a studio which looked north towards Mount Monadnock. Except for summer trips made in the 1960s to Lubec, Maine, Campobello Island and Grand Manan Island, Stevens lived and painted in Conway for the rest of his life.
Primarily an oil painter, Stevens also used watercolor and
acrylics. Although he was proficient in all three, oils allowed
him greater versatility; more significantly, Stevens simply liked
oils better. A superb craftsman, Stevens painted rapidly and
withassurance, but always took time to find the best vantage
point. He understood the importance of placing himself where
he could create the best composition and "took the liberty
of moving objects so that the composition would meet his desires."
This is perhaps why Stevens would later conclude that "fine
pictures are the resufine minds (Greenfield, p. 13).
Stevens was a member of the Boston School, traditionalists and impressionists, opposed to abstraction in art. The subject matter was usually landscape, views of everyday life, and portraits. Stevens continued to create views of New England until almost the final day of his life, June 10, 1969.