Ted Lawson is truly a "slice of life" artist.
His pieces, on display now through July 14 inside at the , draw in art lovers with their vivid colors and buzz of the "big city."
Lawson's artwork is featured alongside pieces from Kimmy Henderson (who we featured Thursday ) in the Instant Reflections exhibit.
Take a look below and see what Lawson had to say about his journey to becoming an artist, how he hones his skills and why every single painting holds a meaning for him.
North Canton Patch: Tell me about the work you've got in the Little Art Gallery right now.
Lawson: The exhibit at the Little Art Gallery at the North Canton Public Library is a collection of artwork that is in my favorite genre, people, places and things. Nearly all of the pieces are slices of life; they are moments in time. The name of the show is Instant Reflections. In fact, the pieces are reflections of a moment where I was observing life as it unfolded.
My artwork is taken from life experiences. My media is watercolor. A casual observer may easily be able to discern my most favorite travel destination. Here’s a hint ... The Big Apple, The City, NYC, New York City. Of course there are other travel destinations but, my favorite is NYC because of the excitement that is found there.
North Canton Patch: Is being an artist your career? If not, what do you do as your career?
Lawson: This is an interesting question that I’m often asked. I worked in the energy industry for more than 30 years. I’m trained as a mechanical engineer but I have always been interested in art. I decided to learn to paint in watercolor while I was working in my first career. Nearly 20 years ago I found a teacher, a North Canton resident, Bette Elliott, and started on the path to where I am now.
My career in the energy industry concluded two years ago when I retired. I did not stop working though. I transitioned from my daily routine of going to the factory every day to going every day to my studio on the very same schedule. I had a plan to be a watercolor artist. I was implementing the plan while I was working and have now settled into my “dream job." Being an artist is my career, my second career.
A career in art is not all painting. Just like engineering, art and an art career require discipline. While painting is one outcome, selling artwork is one, too. I’m engaged in all aspects of those two end products. I collect my own resources, I design my own compositions. I mat and frame my own work. I advertise and market my paintings and portrait services on my personalized website (http://www.tedlawsonartist.com) and in my self-published magazine, Ted Lawson Artist. All of this requires focus and discipline just like engineering.
North Canton Patch: What kind of artwork did you make when you were a kid? Did you consider yourself an artist then?
Lawson: As a child like most others, I relied on Crayola crayons. I didn’t have the 64 color box like privileged kids but I made do with what I had. I didn’t draw or color or sketch anything in particular. I drew things that I saw. As I grew up I took art in high school and followed the boring curriculum offered by the nuns at my school. But as I became an adult, I found that I was pretty good with a pencil so I drew what I saw with graphite and charcoal.
I had pretty good hand-eye coordination for drawing but was never good enough to be accepted into an art school. I didn’t ever consider myself to be an “artist." I could draw. I have some drawings from early adulthood but did not consider them to be good enough to share with anyone else.
North Canton Patch: How do push yourself to improve as an artist?
Lawson: Even though I never considered myself to be an artist when I was young, now that I am an artist I strive to stretch myself to improve by trying new things, attending classes and workshops in art and photography, signing up for life drawing classes wherever they are available. I read about artists and art in books and magazines. I visit art museums and art galleries. I recently joined the Akron Society of Artists, where I can be surrounded by new influences, new artists in a new setting. I’m a member of a number of arts organizations. I’m a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, Associate member of the American Watercolor Society, Associate member of the Akron Society of Artists and member and President of the Canton Artists League.
North Canton Patch: What piece of artwork that you've created means the most to you?
Lawson: Life experiences mean a lot to me. Experiencing new things, seeking adventure and excitement are very meaningful. Since my paintings are from life experiences, moments in time, all of the paintings mean a lot to me. Each painting from a life experience is like reliving the moment that I’m reflecting upon.
I don’t have a favorite but some of my collectors do have favorites. One in particular is a portrait of Taggart’s Ice Cream Parlor in Canton. The painting is the cover-art for an anthology of Stark County Artists, Stark Anthology. A lady who owns a reproduction of the painting recently sought me out at Taggart’s to have her picture taken with me for a high school reunion tribute (Taggart’s was their high school hangout).
North Canton Patch: What artist or artists inspire you?
Lawson: I admire many of the Dutch Master. I consider Michelangelo to be genius. But Leonardo DaVinci is the one artist that inspires me the most. Leonardo is not only an artist, a painter, an architect and a sculptor. He is tagged with the development of engineering drafting and design as can be seen in his notebooks where he imagined and designed such things as a helicopter, a military tank, a double hull ship, and many more things in engineering and science. His enormous curiosity that resulted in so many wonders is an inspiration all its own.
Other contemporary artists that inspire me are Andrew Wyeth, John Salimnen and Gerald Brommer to name a few because of their realistic approach to their subject matter.
North Canton Patch: Would you like to see the North Canton community embrace the arts more? How do you think they could do that?
Lawson: Of course more is better. The North Canton Public Library and the Little Art Gallery are to be commended for their commitment to the arts not only in North Canton but throughout Northeast Ohio. I’m not sure what else the Little Art Gallery can do to embrace the arts any more than they already do.
The Little Art Gallery annual May show was one of the first venues that I was juried into. I didn’t know about other such venues in the early days of my preparation for an art career and felt so honored to be included with “real" artist. I still feel that The Little Art Gallery reaches out to the range of talent in the North Canton Community and those surrounding it.
There are so many art fairs in and around Stark County that adding any more will only take away from all of the others. So in this case, I don’t think more is better.