George Alfred Avison was born on May 6, 1885 in Norwalk, Connecticut. His father, Alfred Avison, was born 1859 in Connecticut of English ancestry. His mother, Ardella A. Daniels, was born 1861 in New York City. His parents married in 1883. There were two children in the family. His younger sister Leila was born in 1892. They lived at 158 Main Street in Norwalk, CT. His father was a businessman and local politician.
He attended school and developed a natural talent for drawing.
In June 1903 he graduated from Norwalk High School, and started to work as a staff artist at an engraving house in Boston.
In September 1903 he moved to New York City to study at the New York School of Art. His instructors included Robert Henri (1865-1929)and Edward Penfield (1866-1925).
By 1908 he began to work as a professional freelance artist. His illustrations appeared in St.Nicholas Magazine, Youth's Companion, Boy's Life, American Girl, The Century, and Scribner's Magazine.
In 1909 he married Edith Dalton and raised three children, George Marshall (b.1909), Mildred (b. 1911), and Alfred (b.1920), who grew up to become a renowned Golden Age comic book artist. The Avison family moved to an artist's colony founded by the sculptor Solon Borglum (1868-1922) in Silvermine, CT. This same group later evolved into the Silvermine College of Art.
By 1916 they lived at 43 Perry Avenue, Norwalk, CT.
He had a steady job as a staff artist at the Van Derveer Publishing Company, on the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway in New York City.
On September 12, 1918 he registered with the draft in the Great War, at which time he was recorded to be thirty-three, medium height, medium build, with brown eyes and brown hair. He did not serve in the military.
During the 1920s he painted covers and illustrated stories for pulp magazines, such as Short Stories, Blue Book, and West.
During the 1930s he worked as a muralist for the WPA Federal Art Project, an enlightened government program that provided relief income for artists during the Great Depression. Pulp artists Delos Palmer, Elton Fax, Lee Browne Coye, and Remington Schuyler also worked on mural projects for this same government program.
In 1939 he was commissioned by the Edison Electric Company to create a mural for their pavilion at the New York World's Fair.
He moved to 1069 Main Street in Stamford, CT, where he lived and worked.
During WWII he illustrated three books for MacMillan, Uncle Sam's Army, Uncle Sam's Navy, and Uncle Sam's Marines.
After the war he moved to New Canaan, CT, where he painted watercolor landscapes for fine art galleries.
George Avison died in Norwalk, CT, at the age of eighty-five on May 30, 1970.
© David Saunders 2011