Each year during the holiday season, artists across the country hope to receive a very special commission: the official White House
holiday card. Once commissioned, the artist gains immediate notoriety since his or her work is mailed to more than one million people - including nearly all world leaders and dignitaries.
This year's lucky artist, T. Allen Lawson, 45, attended and honed his craft at Chicago's famed American Academy of Art
in the mid-1980s. The Academy is long considered to be one of the nation's best, small fine-art colleges with an emphasis on the classical tradition of painting, figurative drawing and illustration.
Lawson's painting, "View from the Truman Balcony," depicts a realistic view of a snow-blanketed National Mall at dusk - including the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial - from the White House's Truman Balcony. It marks the final holiday card of the current Administration and becomes part of the permanent White House collection overseen by the Smithsonian Institute.
Lawson was offered the commission by Laura Bush earlier this year. A Wyoming native, Lawson currently resides in Rockport, Maine.
"This is indeed a great honor and we're obviously thrilled for Mr. Lawson," said Richard Otto, the Academy's president.
Since its founding in 1923, the American Academy of Art has trained and educated some of the nation's most notable and prolific fine artists and illustrators, including Haddon Sundblom, illustrator of the original Coca-Cola Santa Claus; Gil Elvgren, famed for pin-up art during WWII; and most recently noted comic book and graphic novel artists Alex Ross, among dozens of other greats.