Born in Rockport, Massachusetts, impressionist painter William Lester Stevens lived and worked in the area for many years. He first studied art privately with painter Parker Perkins, and then attended the Boston Museum School as a student of Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson, Philip Hale and William Paxton. During his long career as an artist, Stevens taught at Princeton and Boston Universities, and by 1964 had won more awards than any other living artist.
Stevens, along with his friend Aldro Hibbard, was instrumental in organizing the Rockport Art Association in 1921, and later in his life also organized the Conway Festival of the Hills and the Berkshire Arts Festival. He was a National Academician and a member of the American Watercolor Society; a founding member of the Rockport Art Association; Springfield, MA Art League; Guild of Boston Artists; Gallery on Moors; New Haven Paint and Clay Club, CT; Gloucester Society of Art; North Shore Art Association; Boston Watercolor Club and the New York Watercolor Club.
Although he spent most of his time in Massachusetts, where he had a studio in Conway, Stevens did travel and paint along the coast of Maine, as well as on Grand Manan Island.