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Larry Seymour Paints Animals with Personalities

Larry Seymour’s mom used art to keep him quiet in church. “She wrote a number on paper, and I had to make a face out of that number,” he said. “It kept me from talking.”

Another early art memory is winning first place at the county fair for a drawing of a chipmunk from the cartoon Chip ‘n’ Dale.

Despite his talent, Seymour’s parents discouraged an art career, and he completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at The Citadel in Charleston. He spent 33 years teaching high school biology, genetics, zoology, and anatomy, as well as coaching football, baseball, basketball, golf, and track. “I liked the interaction with the kids,” he said.

Seymour has always painted, though, focusing on portraits of people in high school and college. But he soon narrowed his focus to animals. “When I do a portrait, I need to paint the personality, and that’s hard to do with people,” he said. “With animals, I do the personality I want to.”

He paints from photos taken by himself or by friends. A key turning point was two trips to Kenya. “It’s a whole different world over there,” he said. “You see the animals up close and personal. Seeing 40-50 giraffes—that blows your mind.”

His style is realistic. “I want a person to see the animals and the texture of their fur and their muscle structure,” he said. “Their personality comes across in their eyes, the way they stand, their posture. People say the eyes are the best part of my paintings.”

He draws a rough sketch in graphite pencil, then goes back in with gouache, which he prefers to acrylic. “With gouache, I can work it like I do acrylic, but when it dries, it’s not plastic. I can put water on it and move it back around.” He uses illustration board rather than canvas because he prefers a smooth surface.

Seymour works in a studio in downtown Greenville, where he feels the hand of God. “I’m just a vessel,” he said. “The good Lord goes through me to do a painting so people can see what He’s created.”

For more information about Seymour, visit

Larry Seymour will discuss his artistic process at the next meeting of the Anderson Artists Guild on Monday, October 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the upstairs gallery at the Anderson Arts Center. Masks are required.


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