George Wellington Waters was born on March 31, 1832 in the small upstate community of Coventry in Chenango County, NY. He began his artistic career early and in 1850, at the age of eighteen, Waters had his first exhibit when one of his paintings was on view at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Though he maintained a studio in New York City for many years, George and his wife, Sarah, moved upstate in 1861 to the small city of Elmira where they settled and raised a family. In 1869, George was chosen to be the first director of the art department of Elmira College.
Although Waters traveled to Europe both in 1880 and 1886, the travels with the most profound impact on his artwork were in and around the courtrysides and wilderness areas of the northeast. The artist made frequent trips to the White Mountains, the Adirondacks, and to the lakes and woods of northern New York State. From pencil sketches made during his travels, Waters would translate these to landscape paintings upon returning to his studio.
In 1903, at the age of 71, Waters retired from his position at Elmira College. He continued to paint until his death on July 23, 1912.