Stark County artist profile: Ted Lawson

Each week we will be featuring a different Stark County artist. Get to know the amazing talent in our community.

By Laurie Fife Harbert

It is well known that Canton and Stark County are blessed with an abundance of creative and skilled artists, both natives and transplants who have adopted this area as their own. Born in Indiana, watercolorist Ted Lawson falls into the latter category, but as a resident here for over 35 years, Canton is definitely home to him. Though a mechanical engineer by trade, Lawson kept art in his life since he first began honing his skills as a high school student in Arizona. While his medium is primarily watercolor, he also works in acrylics on occasion. Upon retiring from his day job in 2010, Ted has been able to devote himself fully to his artwork.

Though the stereotype of the unorganized, flighty, illogical, right-brained artist seems at odds with the rational, ordered, left-brained mind necessary to be an engineer, Ted is one of those rare individuals who makes both aspects work for him. When asked how the engineer became an artist, he insists that the question should be: How did the artist become an engineer? His approach to the compositional side of his paintings is decidedly engineer-like, while his eye for subject matter, color choices, and brush skills all encompass the soul of an artist. He works in a representational manner, with a painterly fluidness using highly saturated colors that has become his signature style. It is the shape and composition of both the overall painting and the focal points within it that follow the logical side, as they are based on the Fibonacci sequence/golden mean aspect ratio of width divided by height, or 1.618. For those not familiar with the golden mean, it is the application of a math concept to shapes consistently found in nature, and it is particularly pleasing to the human eye. The curve of ocean waves, the shape of a human ear, or the seed pattern in a sunflower are among many natural items adhering to this principal.

Travel is an important part of finding inspiration and subject matter for Lawson’s cityscapes. He has been to and painted scenes from numerous countries including Italy, France, Austria, Nepal, and Istanbul. New York City is also a popular choice for him, as his daughter lives there. When asked where he would still like to travel to find more fodder for his paintings, with a gleam in his eye he states, ‘Everywhere.’ While Ted takes many pictures for a possible painting while on site, he doesn’t compose with the camera. The layout for the resulting painting is done later on a computer, where he digitally combines several elements from numerous photos into the final composition, always utilizing the 1.618 ratio.

Long active in the local art community, Lawson has recently begun expanding his artistic reach geographically. His work is currently in the Cleveland area at Gallery + at the 78th Street Studios and was part of an invitational group exhibit at Pleaides Gallery in New York City in 2014. Locally, he has exhibited at the Canton Museum of Art, Second April Galerie, The Little Art Gallery of the North Canton Public Library, and earned the top award of best in show in the Massillon Museum’s 2015 ‘Stark County Artists Exhibition.’ Ted is a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society and a past president of the Canton Artists League. Enthusiastic about sharing his talent, knowledge and methods with others, he teaches watercolor classes at the Canton Museum of Art. To see more of Ted’s work and to contact him, visit his website at
Laurie Fife Harbert is a writer, a Canton native, an ailurophile, a visual artist, a bibliophile, a mother of two, and an oenophile—not necessarily in that order.