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From The Studio of BethAnn Lawson

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Meet our new artist BethAnn Lawson!  BethAnn is a modern-impressionist painter who lives and works in Seattle, Washington.  Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, she was taught by and is heavily influenced by her surrealist painter-father, who was a founding member of the San Francisco Street Artist Association.  After graduating from the Institute of Design in San Francisco, she moved to Seattle and spent nearly three decades as a textile designer, graphic designer and illustrator, but returned to her love of painting after the passing of her father in 2011.

Her current work blurs the edges of both figurative and abstract, creating tangible objects and memories from unconventional, yet familiar shapes and custom colors.

In her artist statement, BethAnn writes, “I can lose myself for hours as I take apart the images and carefully put them back together emphasizing colors, rhythms and patterns.  I hope to capture little glimpses of life containing whimsy, the secrets of strangers and the striking architecture of both nature and man.”

What do you first do when you get to the studio in the morning?

After deciding which of the handful of WIPs “matches the day”, I put fresh water in the rinse jar, find the right playlist for the mood, tear off yesterday’s dried up pallet and… simply get going.  I don’t have much of a ritual beyond that and coffee.  Time to paint.

Kings Landing

How many paintings do you work on at a time?

I am physically painting on only one canvas on any particular day.  There really isn’t room for more than one easel in my studio because I’m using distances to constantly check on composition.  Also, as I never use color straight from the tube, it’s economical to keep to just the one painting going for that day.  There may be 4 or 5 pieces that are half-finished at any one time though.

Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on?

Yes, it involves fibers.  I’d like to give myself enough time to truly build something with my hands, beyond a brush.  I’ve definitely experimented and journaled ideas, but I haven’t yet committed to it’s full potential.  It’s still very much percolating.

If you could paint with anyone, who would it be? 

Alone Downtown

I paint alone.  Always have.

What’s your favorite way of generating ideas and inspiration?

I walk daily and take photos of anything I find remotely interesting.  Whether it be in the noise and shadows of downtown or on the shores of the Puget Sound, I snap photos of unsuspecting people and places.  New unexplored places such as vacations are always rich material, but this year of Covid-19 has made that a bit tough.

How has your art evolved over time?

I used to be an illustrator, so my work was always very figurative.  Honestly, I didn’t often find much innovative joy in that, as it felt too restrictive, trying always to replicate something exactly as it appeared to the eye.  Several years ago, I wadded up a few of my reference photos in a fit of frustration.  Later when I uncrumpled them, I realized the wild creases I made in those photos distorted all the lines that nature was trying to show me.  I now try to capture tangible images using just color and abstract shapes.

What do you like most about your work?

I love color.  Besides ivory black and titanium white, none of my colors are straight from the tube.  It may be my favorite part; the mixing and creating.  Secondly, it’s the challenge of creating a known object using abstract shapes.  I use word “challenge” with… affection.

What is one word that best describes your style? 


I’m going to hyphenate so I can cheat and use two words: modern-impressionism.

Is there an idea you would like to explore?

I haven’t done many landscapes or forests, but I’m often asked about it.  The cities and the people hold some special kind of secrets I find too appealing.  Those seem to be the ones always asking to be painted.

Alternately, I go for walks through the quiet trees to think and be alone.  They never ask for anything.

Do you ever get “stuck” on a piece?  If so, what do you do?

Yes, I set it aside and work on something else.  Maybe it turns out to be a paperwork day.  If I’m stuck… that’s it.  It’s better to come back to it when it’s ready to be finished than to force it.  I’ll eventually dream about it and finish it a couple weeks or more down the road.  That usually involves correcting color.  I do really obsess about it.

What is next up on your easel?

 More beaches, water, using softer, more neutral colors, and honestly anything that might impersonate itself as a vacation.  It’s been a very dry, isolated year.  There are countless things I shall never take for granted ever again; the power of water sitting nearly first among them.

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