Meet Scottish artist Ron Lawson

Ron Lawson’s distinct monochrome landscapes often featuring quaint highland cottages are popular with collectors around the world. We catch up with him to discuss the inspiration behind his highly individual style, how he stays focused, and his new collection of prints.

Q: Hi Ron, what initially inspired you to pick up a paintbrush and start producing remote landscapes?

A: I grew up on a farm in Midlothian, Scotland. I believe that start in life has been the source of my interest and love of remote locations. The farming life wasn’t for me though…I was given a pencil and paper on my birthday as a child, I think my destiny was sealed right there and then.

My first paintings of the Hebridean cottages and landscape date back to the mid 1980’s. These days I focus entirely on painting Scotland’s beautiful Western Isles. I spend quite a bit of time on the islands sourcing new inspiration and subjects to paint, and just enjoying the place!

Hebridean Cottages, Ron Lawson

Q: How did your time at renowned publishers DC Thomson influence your highly individual style?

A: I’ve worked as a professional artist since 1976 when at the age of 16 I landed a job in the art studio of Dundee based publisher DC Thomson. It was there that I was first introduced to watercolour paint. There can be little doubt watercolour is an incredibly difficult medium, one which I’ve concentrated my entire career on mastering.

I’ve never allowed myself to be influenced or tempted to copy in any way the work of other artists, to the point of simply never looking at anyone else’s work. I was very much intent on doing my thing only.

What I’m trying to achieve in my work is to give the viewer the sense and feeling of being there.

Q: Your distinct monochrome paintings, often featuring moody grey skies, have become your trademark – yet your landscapes still radiate positivity.  How do you achieve this?

A: I first painted what has now become my signature flat skies in the 80’s – the response right from the start for these paintings has been incredible and continues increasing every day.

My grey skies increase the drama of the landscape, you could say artistic interpretation, to a degree. The sun does actually shine on the islands but as any islander or visitor can testify, the grey skies are never too far away.

Uist Rocky Shore I, Ron Lawson

Q: Have you always used watercolour and gouache for your paintings? Or have you experimented with different mediums in the past?

A: I’ve used watercolour and gouache paint since 1976, I’ve never been tempted to deviate. What I have experimented endlessly with, however, is watercolour paper and boards. It’s important while developing as an artist to learn everything you can and the effort pays dividends in the long run.

Q: Your landscapes require a lot of skill and little room for error. How do you stay focused?

A: The only way to achieve a high level of success is a disciplined approach. I start every day at 9.30am and work until any particular piece is completed. I don’t allow distractions and so maintaining a high level of exactness in an unforgiving medium like watercolour is a little bit more manageable.

Uist Beachcombers, Ron Lawson

Q: What urged you to leave your full-time job to focus exclusively on painting?

A: I stayed with DCT’s for 34 years. In 2010 the opportunity came for me to leave the security of a full-time job and focus entirely on my own ambitions. It was an easy decision. Since the early 1980’s I’d been achieving a steadily growing interest in my work. I was pretty confident I could make a success with my own painting projects.

Q: Your paintings have proved popular with collectors around the world. Why do you think people from different continents relate to the Scottish landscape?

A: My work has become incredibly popular in the UK and overseas. People connect with the paintings, instantly for some people. Could it be for reassurance to some of a place of shelter and safety in one of the little cottages as a thunderous downpour is threatening? I’m not sure but something similar has been said on plenty of occasions.

People I’ve spoken to who are fans of my work, those who have travelled to the islands or live there, are taken by the sense of peacefulness and feeling in my work. It's a reminder of being there. That’s the best compliment I could hope for.

Others who have yet to experience the Hebrides for themselves are captured by the striking image I’ve created in my paintings. Perhaps it will encourage them to visit some of the locations I paint.

Blue Island, Ron Lawson

Q: You have released a series of new prints with King & McGaw. Can you tell us a bit more about these artworks?

A: It’s been a pleasure to release prints of my work with K&M. The latest releases are taken from recent sell-out solo exhibitions and are excellent examples of how my work has developed. My prints from K&M’s first series focussed on the remote cottages as the centrepiece. With my new work I’m showing more of the rugged locations. I’m hoping to give the viewer a greater sense of the stunning beauty of the Outer Hebrides in my own unique way.

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