Born in Orwell Ohio on July 19, 1899, Elwin Martin Stults, Jr. grew up in the rural Midwest. He graduated from Washington High School in Massillon Ohio in 1918 and from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh in 1922 with a B.A. in Fine Arts. During his college years, he adopted the nickname “Larry,” a name he used personally and professionally for the rest of his life.
Following graduation, he continued his education in fine art at Provincetown in Massachusetts, studying there under Charles Webster Hawthorne, a prominent artist credited with creating the “Cape Cod School of Art”. Hawthorne’s landscapes and water scenes were well known in American art circles, and they influenced Stults’ choice of subject matter and painting techniques. Several of his paintings from that period still exist.
He moved to Chicago in 1923 to enter a career in advertising art where he joined the Stevens and Sundblom Company. His commercial advertisements appeared in many newspapers and major publications. One of his most significant achievements was a commission in 1926 to do the layout and illustrations for a series of luxury automobile advertisements for the Hupmobile Automobile Company. Thirteen full color ads, many with his signature, appeared in such leading national magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, House and Garden, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar.
He studied in Chicago with Francis Chapin and Edmund Geisbert at the Art Institute of Chicago and with Gyorgy Kepes at the Institute of Design. He attended summer programs in Saugatuck Michigan to further refine his skills and also taught at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1926 he became a full partner in the reorganized firm of Stevens, Sundblom, and Stults. In the mid-1930s, he and a colleague established the Evans and Stults Advertising Agency with offices in Chicago and New York. In the later 1930s he formed his own firm, Larry Stults and Associates.
His interest in fine art continued throughout those decades and after moving to Florida with his family in 1943. In 1944, he and his wife, Jan, purchased a small island and opened the Inn and Studio on Cabbage Key. There he gave lessons to guests and focused on his career in fine art. In 1969, the island was sold, and they moved to Sarasota where he continued to be involved in the world of art.
His extensive art work was primarily in oils, although watercolors, pen and ink, acrylics, and monoprints were also a part of his artistic success. Favorite topics included water and boat scenes, as well as the human form (notably family settings and female nudes). The title of one show, Beaches, Boats, and Bodies, well describes his major interests.
Stults was a member of several art associations, and exhibited his work widely in his later years. His paintings can be found in private collections, and he had many one-man shows including exhibits in Ohio, Maryland, and Florida. He continued painting well into his mid-90s before his death on February 6, 1996 at the age of ninety-six.